We are finally here with the cream of the crop. Here are the top 20 music videos by underground, indie, and lesser-known artists of 2021. Overall, it’s been a fantastic year for videos despite the lingering pandemic, and some artists have created visuals of epic proportions. Thanks for spending the week with us.
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20. th1rt3en, “Worship 45”
It will take years of songwriting to erase the corruption and madness of the Trump years. Thank Rassilon groups like th1rt3en are here. The video is straightforward, but the imagery of devils cast out with sage and statically-reduced televisions is extremely heartwarming.
19. Dorian Electra, “My agenda”
It’s moments like these that you can really feel where Lady Gaga made her mark on the medium of the clip. Dorian Electra pulls a “Bad Romance” with a slight kawai feel in “My Agenda”, totally dominating the screen with their electric presence.
18. Mark of sacrifice, “modified eyes”
One of the most ambitious offerings of 2021 was the CGI epic “Altered Eyes”. Hosted by Tony Simone, it appears to be the story of a divine figure who is being constructed to force the masses to stop him. The execution is glorious and dynamic and a true feast for the senses.
17. Evan Stanley’s achievement. Bryan Cranston, “Memories”
One of the more random clips of the year involves Paul Stanley (from Kiss) covering Maroon 5 and hanging out with Bryan Cranston (breaking Bad). Inspired by long drives in the desert on tour and worrying about the gas gauge dropping, Evan Stanley and Cranston put together a delightful and slightly absurd music video that gets more and more weird and adorable as it goes. let him advance. May all your breakdowns be so delicious.
16. Red fang, “Arrows”
No band has ever been closer to creating a live action version of Aqua Teen Hunger ForceWhat Red Fang does in “Arrows”. After spending their entire music video budget on a katana, the band behave like doodles competing with them in a hilarious parade of non-stop slashes. If you like to see things cut in slow motion, this is a double treat.
15. Idles, “When the Lights Come On”
Inactive videos always feel like you’re in the middle of a meme about a terrifying internet-based urban legend. They don’t make any sense, but damn if they’re not weird. Of the many videos the group has released this year, the latest is by far the best, with its artistic horror aesthetic and incomprehensible cycling monster.
14. Places, “Rite of passage”
You’re going to want nothing to eat for this one… The venue underwent a major overhaul in 2018 when singer Nyves left abruptly, but rallied well by replacing his Lela, which fits in perfectly. The video for “Rite of Passage” is a total grindhouse, with lead singer Robin Baumann spending most of his time singing the lyrics lying in a pool of his own bowels. Meanwhile, the rest of the group play the murder investigation. It’s Clue, but in metal.
13. Jason Collett, “Crab going home in the rain”
As animation in music videos becomes more accessible to independent artists, how I made a mark often depends on capturing a unique style. Director Ryan D Anderson’s newsprint presentation combined with classic rock poster tropes make this one of the best swings to liven up a song ever.
12. sym will do, “11/8”
The pandemic has put a lot of people on social media, which is probably healthy. Sym will wanted to capture the paranoia that comes from the saturation of social networks. “11/8” is almost anti-technological, trading phones for the feeling of being watched in the woods. However, he still has the same gruesome obsession with his eyes on you.
11. Snail mail, “Valentine”
There is just something about murder at a wedding. Singer Lindsey Jordan plays “The Designer,” a woman in love with a bride who takes photos in the craziest way at a reception. Jordan’s lopsided yet touching performance is a roller coaster of a woman who manages to balance gore and affection. Moreover, few people can act as well through a face of cake and blood.
10. Arca, “Prada / Rakata”
Frederik Heyman and Arca have teamed up to create something akin to the serial killer spirit scenes of The Cell, but even more cheerful and with an art style inspired by Frank Frazetta, in other words, it’s amazing. even when it leaves you completely bewildered and confused. Frankly, now that we have Arca and videos like this, I see no reason to mention Marilyn Manson again.
9. Ya Tseen, “Close the Distance”
You have to be patient with “Close the distance”. Director Stephan Gray takes his time showing audiences plenty of stop-motion videos of flowers and plants before moving on to a weird inorganic eroticism that explodes the scene like a climax. It’s a dance of unusual touches and weird, almost alien types of love, and it’s definitely worth the wait for it to spring into action.
8. Hildegard von Blingn ‘& Whitney Avalon, “Holding Out for a Hero”
Bardcore has been making a big comeback lately, and when it comes to good covers, they’re no better than “Holding Out for a Hero”. Hildegard von Blingin ‘and Whitney Avalon not only kill on the runway, but the well-done medieval tapestry clip is doubly enchanting as well. Every fucking thing about it is magic.
7. Logan Lynn, “Here’s to us”
What “Here’s to Us” lacks in complexity, it more than makes up for by its sincerity. The animation is simple, almost childish, but the feeling hits like a cannonball. No other artist has succeeded in capturing the sense of survival that these long years have given to humanity. It’s still sad, but congratulations. So much for us, indeed.
6. Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle, “Anhédonie”
There is a butterfly that saw the tears of sleeping birds. This fact was first on the minds of Chelsea Wolfe and producer Cressa Beer when they edited the absolutely captivating stop-motion video for “Anhedonia”. It’s a nightmarish journey through sorrow and darkness that still handles a lot of beauty. Like so many videos of the year, it’s about how we deal with trauma. And it’s good to have such a wide menu of ways to do it.
5. Rocks, “Imaginary Friends”
We all wanted to escape a bad situation, but no one has portrayed it in such a wonderful style as Des Rocks does in “Imaginary Friends.” The video follows a teenager cornered by bullies and beaten. During the attack, he leaves his mind for a world of lost boys where the group has an endless party. It’s a bit sad, but still magical.
4. Japanese breakfast, “Savage Good Boy”
Michelle Zauner is one of the great music writers working today. Not only are Japanese Breakfast a great band, but her eye as a director is as sharp as her mind. “Savage Good Boy” shows her trapped in a controlling relationship with Michael Imperioli (Lucifer) until she does the one sane thing and eats it. Extra live goes to Hannah Arnold for the excellent costumes, including a stupendous interpretation of Lucy Westenra’s dress from Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
3. Alt-J, “Better”
I’ve seen a few bands use retro 16-bit game art styles in music videos before, but nothing even came close to the perfection of “Better.” Directed by Stefanie Grunwald and based on a concept by singer Joe Newman, the video is an emotionally devastating journey through the end of a loved one’s life told in narrative video game form. The retro graphic style adds to the sense of displacement in Newman’s lyrics and gives the video a sense of being trapped in the past.
2. Ladyhawke + BROODS, “Guilty love”
Director Lula Cucchiara makes a brilliant interpretation of forbidden love as she is condemned by religion. Phoenix Kahlo Connolly and Ana Kelliher play younger versions of the artists who pursue a relationship under the glare of their Catholic school administrators. It’s exhilarating and presented with a strong sense of drama that makes the story take off as if it had been pulled from a trebuchet.
1. Soen, “deceiver”
Producer Daniele Zed Berretta has finally wrapped up the epic trilogy of videos that began with “Monarch” and “Illusion”. Combined, they weave a complex tale of magic and shattered time that makes up one of the greatest heavy metal stories to ever air on YouTube. Really, the whole work is a huge accomplishment for the art form, and that’s why it’s the best underground video of the year.