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10 Best Music Videos of 2014

From Taylor Swift’s luxurious mansion freakout to OG Maco’s low-budget hotel turn-up, the best clips of the year

St. Vincent, OG Maco, Beyoncé and a still from Disclosure's "Grab Her"

In 2014, music videos became increasingly prominent, not just on YouTube (where the most popular entry on our list has nearly 400 million views) and television (where a handful of networks keep them in rotation) but in the world at large, integrated into advertisements, social media and live events. Artists like Taylor Swift and Will.i.am pushed the boundaries of the form, creating apps where viewers could inhabit or interact with their work, and Beyoncé set the tone for the year by surprise releasing 17 clips at once in December of 2013. Looking back, here are our picks for the 10 best of the year.

Hyuna, "Red"
5

Hyuna, “Red”

Hyuna's K-pop hit is a schizophrenic mess, switching from trap and hip-hop to bubbly pop and slinky Middle Eastern electro. The video does its best to keep up: While rapid scene shifts follow the song's structure, wild images bring its lyrics to life. "A monkey's butt is red," goes the chorus, and on screen, a monkey with a bright red butt appears. "My lipstick is red…" and just like that, Hyuna's wiggling on a pair of giant lips. The part where Hyuna's about to cry? That's when she's singing about being lonely. Some major Korean broadcasters thought the original video was too hot for TV, which means it might just right for an American crossover.

Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"
4

Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”

Directed by Joseph Kahn
Taylor Swift casts herself as the "Blank Space" villain and revels in every gossip mag rumor about her — the claims that she's a maneater, a perpetually insecure and jealous girlfriend, and a general handful. Swift's great trick is turning bad behavior into a virtue, and here her crazy-girl windshield-smashing and unapologetic love for old-money luxury somehow makes the villainy attractive.

Beyoncé, "Pretty Hurts"
3

Beyoncé, “Pretty Hurts”

Directed by Melina Matsoukas
Both Rihanna and Katy Perry turned down "Pretty Hurts" before Beyoncé snatched the song, using it to view her beauty pageant past through feminist eyes. The seven-minute video, shot in a Brooklyn high school, is totally straight-forward, a near-documentary in a video album of fantasy, and this feel is reinforced by the closing footage of the young singer competing at an event in Houston. The song and the video both display one of Beyoncé's many gifts: her ability to mine the deeply personal for mass appeal.

DJ Snake & Lil Jon, "Turn Down for What"
2

DJ Snake feat. Lil Jon, “Turn Down for What”

Directed by Daniels
The directing duo Daniels (one member drops through the ceiling), said they just wanted to make something as wonderfully dumb as the song — and this wonderfully bonkers clip achieves that goal via twerking, daggering and a Brazilian dance called "surra de bunda." Translation: punishment by ass.

Sia, "Chandelier"
1

Sia, “Chandelier”

Directed by Sia and Daniel Askill
It's easy to see why the notoriously stage-shy Sia was a fan of 11-year-old reality star Maddie Ziegler. Here, the Dance Moms alum's crisp moves and theatrical mugging were a great fit for Ryan Heffington's imaginative choreography. But it's not only Ziegler's charisma that makes this video mesmerizing: Her dancing makes your memory tingle, with every gesture recalling ordinary activities that you can't exactly place. Each familiar movement is repeated until it becomes grotesque and threatening.

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