With so much media out there, coming at us from every angle, the once-dominant music video can sometimes get lost in the onslaught. That would be a shame, as developments in technology, and the ever-weirder brains of musicians and filmmakers, mean the form is going as strong as ever. Here are our picks of the most delightful, peculiar and joyous clips of 2018, from high-production-value 'short films' to charmingly home-made animations...
Kali Uchis - After the Storm ft Tyler, the Creator and Bootsy Collins
Kali Uchis's album, Isolation, was packed with smooth retro-soul grooves with a modern twist, and Nadia Lee Cohen's pastel-toned, sweetly strange video for After the Storm fits the vibe perfectly. Featuring guest spots by Bootsy Collins as a talk-singing food label and Tyler, The Creator as a botanical boyfriend that Kali grows in her garden, it's got a delightful Sesame Street-gone-wrong feel.
Charli XCX and Troye Sivan - 1999
Though Charli XCX was only seven in the year already paid musical tribute to by Prince, and Aussie pop darling Troye Sivan was only - sob - FOUR, they were clearly precocious children. This fun, sweetly nostalgic video - directed by Charli and Ryan Staake - sees them playing dress-up for some iconic 90s moments, from Titanic to the Backstreet Boys to Charli as Steve Jobs.
Khruangbin - Evan Finds the Third Room
Mime can be divisive, but the sheer joy of this Khruangbin video should inspire even those terrified or irritated by invisible boxes. In it, a chipper lady in a green top, while putting her rubbish outside, spots something on the floor. Wait… is that… an invisible hula hoop? It is, and she immediately begins to shimmy, making her way through the park, the supermarket and the revolving door without missing a beat. "We found the happiest lady in China. We told her that you don't need a real hula hoop to have fun. She agreed," said Josh King, who co-directed the video with Felix Heyes.
Róisín Murphy - Jacuzzi Rollercoaster
Psychedelic videos can go one of two ways: fun or downright terrifying. Róisín Murphy's self-directed clip for the bubbly, funky and aptly titled Jacuzzi Rollercoaster dances on the edge between the two with its kaleidoscopes of dancing bodies and regressing, repeating collages of faces ("We slip and slide / To excite the mind" intones guest vocalist Ali Love). Ultimately, though, it ends on the side of happy trippy: "I only wanna play," Murphy reassures us.
Aphex Twin - T69 Collapse
[Warning: contains flashing images]
The master of the weird video returned with the Collapse EP in September, heralded by this collaboration with visual artist Weirdcore. It starts with rapidly scrolling excerpts of emails between the two about the video brief, and how it's inspired by the way an artificial intelligence might see the world on psychedelic drugs. That gives way to images of Cornish landscape and towns filtered and reflected, arranging into patterns and then closing in on themselves, Inception-style. And of course, there's the typically Aphex motif of a hellish vortex made of his own face. The pair were also inspired by simulation theory, the idea that we are all living in a computer simulation. Dazed did a good job of breaking it all down [warning: contains adult language]. That's fine by us, long as we're not living in this particular simulation - seems a bit hectic.
LCD Soundsystem - Oh Baby
When you're modern disco supremo James Murphy, you can call on the real big hitters to direct your videos. This beautifully shot six-minute short film was created by Star Wars director Rian Johnson. It also stars actors David Strathairn and Sissy Spacek - Sissy Spacek! - as two scientists furiously working on a tricky formula. Eventually, they solve it, and build what appears to be a teleportation machine, in scenes reminiscent of gritty 2004 time-travel film Primer. We won't spoil it, but things get deadly and drastic and beautiful towards the end.
Mitski - Nobody
Christopher Good places Mitski in a surreal dream that makes playful reference to Björk's bizarre early videos with Michel Gondry. The film plays on the lyrics' wry anxiety, with disembodied limbs, faceless portraits, giant mise-en-abyme diaries and some good old-fashioned hairbrush singing. Mitski plays it perfectly puzzled and deadpan throughout.
LUMP - Curse of the Contemporary
The eponymous debut from LUMP, the side project of Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay from Tunng, took a hairy yeti as its emblem. And the tall furry one also took on the task of representing the songs through the medium of modern dance in their videos. "The yeti became a suitable analogy for the animal unconscious, the randomness," Marling told NME. "And the weird dancing, like you’ve never learned how to dance." This one, by animator Esteban Diacono and producer Abigail Kurejwowski, is particularly hypnotic and strangely liberating to watch, as the pink and yellow fur flies. Dance like nobody's watching, they say, and if you're a yeti, well, probably no one is.
Neko Case - The Last Lion of Albion
We love a well-crafted video, and the beautiful, intricate puppetry by Laura Planker in this late cut from Case's excellent album Hell-On is enchanting. It’s got everything: space, waterfalls and big cats. The song was inspired by the three lions of the English coat of arms. "There's a lot of lions associated with England," Case told Spin, "and yet lions are completely extinct in England. It makes you feel sad inside, and then you realize how every culture everywhere has that, and I was just kind of meditating on that thought."