Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Blackpink, Tierra Whack: Best Music Videos of 2018 - Rolling Stone
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10 Best Music Videos of 2018

Tierra Whack’s art-rap funhouse, Blackpink’s K-pop maximalism, Beyoncé and Jay-Z taking over the Louvre and more

best music videos 2018, childish gambino, beyonce, jay-z

Our picks for best music video of 2018 include a 15-minute art-rap funhouse, some K-pop maximalism and two of the world’s biggest music stars taking over the Louvre.

Hurray for the Riff Raff Pa'lante

Hurray for the Riff Raff, “Pa’lante”

Director: Kristian Mercado Figueroa
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September of 2017, there was destruction and an ensuing humanitarian crisis, claiming the lives of an estimated 2,975 people (a Harvard study put the figure closer to 5,000). Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra and director Kristian Mercado Figueroa were both looking for a way to express their emotions about it. The two were put in touch with each other and they came up with the concept for “Pa’Lante.” The video follows an estranged couple played by Mela Murder and Kareem Savinon, separated by over 1,600 miles and suffering a wound that remains unhealed, even once that distance is closed. Figueroa was raised in Puerto Rico off and on for 10 years and when he returned to the island to shoot the video, it was the first time he’d been back since Maria. What he saw and created amidst it can be emotionally overwhelming, far more affecting than a litany of statistics. “Pa’Lante” emerges as an beautiful piece about neglect, resilience and the heartbreak we should all be carrying with us about what happened and is still happening. E.D.

Anderson Paak Til It's Over

Anderson .Paak, “Til It’s Over” (a.k.a. ‘Welcome Home’)

Director: Spike Jonze
Sure, “Welcome Home” is technically a four-minute ad for Apple’s HomePod but who do think funded the video for “Hotline Bling?” Directed by music video veteran Spike Jonze and featuring an Anderson. Paak song in its entirety, “Welcome Home” is a throwback to the Nineties era of big concepts and practical effects. FKA Twigs stretches her apartment into gorgeous lines of color recalling the geometric wonderlands of Michel Gondry or the room choreography of Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity.” C.W.

Childish Gambino This Is America

Childish Gambino, “This Is America”

Director: Hiro Murai
Rapper/actor/auteur/firebrand Donald Glover and Atlanta director Hiro Murai used their formidable skills to concoct a bloody protest piece that captivated the world. “America” visualized the America that Grandmaster Melle Mel, Ice Cube, Chuck D and Kendrick Lamar rapped about, using imagery the way rappers use wordplay — as one example, note someone riding a pale horse in the background, possibly a reference to the Milton William Cooper book embraced in rap circles. People have interpreted Glover’s dancing among the chaos as a statement on everything from gun violence to police brutality to capitalism’s relationship with Black America. “Yeah, that video is a really crazy confluence of tone changes – that’s the premise of the whole video and the song, in a way,” Murai told The New York Times. “Even the violence, though it’s harrowing, there’s a part of it that also feels cartoony. There’s ‘Looney Tunes’ logic in there somewhere. Obviously we’re dealing with very provocative images, so it’s a total tightrope walk.” C.W.

The Carters Apeshit

The Carters, “Apeshit”

Director: Ricky Saiz
In 2016, Beyoncé released an entire visual album for Lemonade. In 2017, Jay-Z put out a video for nearly every song from 4:44. For the couple’s collaborative album, Everything is Love, they only released a single video, but “Apeshit” on its own is packed with enough meaning for an entire art history dissertation about representation. In fact, in the days after its release, multiple art historians tried to unpack the significance behind the specific pieces that were highlighted in the video in which the pair take over the Louvre and fill the monument to white European art with black music, black movement and black voices. There are levels upon levels to Beyoncé doing the Migos flow about financial equity in front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace sculpture while wearing Stephane Rolland and Alexis Mabille coutre. But while the deep dives and brief GIFs may leave you with a Mona Lisa smile, there’s something to be said for just letting the totality of “Apeshit” overtake you like you’re standing at the entrance of the Galerie d’Apollon. The video’s concept was one of the biggest flexes of the year — but it was one of its most impressive artistic statements, too. E.D.

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