Best Music Videos of 2012 - Rolling Stone
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Best Music Videos of 2012

Kanye, Psy, Pussy Riot and more

psy; gangnam style


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Hey, sexy lady! We'll give you one guess which video tops our list of the best of 2012. It's been viewed nearly a billion times on YouTube; surely you're one (or 100) of those clicks. There were other great videos released this year too, we swear.

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Psy, “Gangnam Style”

How did people waste time at work before "Gangnam Style"? At first, it seemed like just another viral novelty video, except it got weirder the more you watched it. The Korean auteur conquered the world with his "dress classy, dance cheesy" aesthetic, blurring the line between parody and celebration. Your average American viewer probably couldn't tell what the hell was going on, yet the pop spritz of the thing was irresistible.

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Nicki Minaj and Cassie, ‘The Boys’

The Nicki fix of the year – at least until we actually get to peep that alleged American Idol footage where she goes gangsta on Mariah Carey. Her R&B sidekick Cassie rocks a New Wave haircut straight out of a Bow Wow Wow video, decked out in candy colors. Minaj dances through her personal pastel Sesame Street fantasy, does her glitch-blink sex-robot routine and shows off her collection of expensive wigs.

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Kanye West, ‘Mercy’

Sample user comments on YouTube: "This is possibly the worst music video I've ever seen"; "They look like a gay Al Qaeda or something"; "Satanist trash." High praise, but this clip lives up to it. Kanye brings that big-budget conceptual flair, even though it's basically a Stanley Kubrick remake of Michael Jackson's "Bad" video, set in an extremely sexy parking garage. Who would attempt such a thing? Nobody but Kanye.

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Tanlines, ‘All of Me’

It's like a musical answer to The Walking Dead, set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic bunker full of the dorkiest senior citizens you ever did see. The old-timers watch this indie synth-pop duo on an old-school black-and-white TV-set, until they're inspired to get up and do their hilariously inept zombie dances. Funny stuff – but when the balding guy takes his solo freestyle flight during the breakdown, it's also bizarrely moving.

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Pussy Riot, ‘Punk Prayer’

A musical happening in a most unusual place: Moscow punk riot grrrls bum-rush the altar at Christ the Savior Cathedral, performing this song to protest the Russian church's collusion with Putin. They get shipped off to prison camps, but this shaky real-time video footage circulates around the world and becomes an international scandal. It's shocking and truly scary to watch. It's also exactly what punk rock was invented for.

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