Best Music Videos of 2021 Part 5
We are finally here with the crème de la crème. Here are the 20 best music videos from underground, indie and lesser-known artists of 2021. All in all, it’s been a fantastic year for videos despite the lingering pandemic, and some artists have created visuals of epic proportions. Thank you for spending the week with us.
If you want to enjoy the countdown as a playlist, click on this link.
20. th1rt3en, “Cult 45”
It will take years of songs to whitewash the corruption and madness of the Trump years. Thanks Rassilon groups like th1rt3en are here. The video is simple, but the imagery of demons being cast out with sage and TVs reduced to static electricity is extremely heartwarming.
19. Dorian Electra, “My Program”
It’s times like these that you can really feel where Lady Gaga made her mark on the music video medium. Dorian Electra pull off a “Bad Romance” with a slight kawai feel to “My Agenda”, completely dominating the screen with their electric presence.
18. Mark of Sacrifice, “Altered Eyes”
One of 2021’s most ambitious offerings was the CGI epic ‘Altered Eyes’. Hosted by Tony Simone, it appears to be the story of a divine figure who is being built as a mass force to stop him. The execution is glorious and dynamic and a feast for the senses.
17. Evan Stanley feat. Bryan Cranston, “Memoirs”
One of the more random music videos of the year involves Paul Stanley’s (of Kiss) son covering Maroon 5 and hanging out with Bryan Cranston (breaking Bad). Inspired by long drives through the desert on tour and worried about dwindling gas gauges, Evan Stanley and Cranston have put together a delicious and slightly absurd music video that gets weirder and more adorable as they go. as you go. May all your breakdowns be so delicious.
16. Red Fang, “Arrows”
No band has ever come this close to creating a live action version of Aqua Teen Hunger Forcee as Red Fang in “Arrows”. After blowing his entire music video budget on a katana, the band proceeds to act like creepy doodles with him in a hilarious parade of nonstop slashes. If you like seeing things cut in slow motion, this is a double treat.
15. Slow Motion, “When the Lights Come On”
Idle videos always feel like you’re in the middle of a meme about a terrifying urban legend on the internet. They don’t make 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 monster bike.
14. Places, “Rite of Passage”
You’re going to want to eat nothing for this one… Places got a major shake-up in 2018 when singer Nyves abruptly left, but rallied well by replacing her perfectly fitting Lela. The video for “Rite of Passage” is real grindhouse, with lead singer Robin Baumann spending most of his time singing the lyrics lying in a pool of his own insides. Meanwhile, the rest of the band acts out the murder investigation. It’s Clue, but metal.
13. Jason Collett, “The Crab Comes Home in the Rain”
As animation in music videos becomes more and more accessible to independent artists, making a mark on myself often hinges on capturing a unique style. Director Ryan D Anderson’s newsprint presentation, combined with classic rock posters, makes for one of the best swings ever to liven up a song.
12. sym will do, “11/8”
The pandemic has brought a lot of people to life on social media, which is probably healthy. Sym faire wanted to capture the paranoia that comes from social media saturation. “11/8” is almost anti-tech, trading in phones for the feeling of being watched in the woods. However, he still has the same macabre obsession with eyes on you.
11. Postal Mail, “Valentine”
There’s just something about murder at a wedding. Singer Lindsey Jordan plays “The Designer,” a woman in love with a bride who slaps the craziest at a reception. Jordan’s lopsided yet touching performance is a one-woman roller coaster that manages to balance gore and affection. Plus, few people can act so 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 from The Cell, but even more gay and with an art style inspired by Frank Frazetta. In other words, it’s amazing even when it leaves you completely bewildered and unsettled. Frankly, now that we have Arca and videos like this, I see no reason to mention Marilyn Manson again.
9. Ya Tseen, “Reducing the distance”
You need to be patient with “Close distance”. Director Stephan Gray takes his time showing audiences plenty of stop motion footage of flowers and plants before moving into a weird non-organic erotica that explodes the scene like a climax. It’s a dance of unusual touches and strange, almost alien types of love, and it’s definitely worth the wait to get in on the action.
8. Hildegard von Blingn’ & Whitney Avalon, “Holding Out for a Hero”
Bardcore is making a big comeback lately, and as far as great covers go, they don’t do better than “Holding Out for a Hero”. Hildegard von Blingin’ and Whitney Avalon don’t just kill on the track, but the well-done medieval tapestry music video is also doubly enchanting. Every damn thing about it is magical.
7. Logan Lynn, “Here’s to Us”
What “Here’s to Us” lacks in complexity, it more than makes up for in sincerity. The animation is simple, almost childish, but the feeling hits like a cannonball. No other artist has managed to capture the sense of survival that these long years have put into humanity. It’s always sad, but congratulating. Here’s to us, indeed.
6. Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle, “Anhedonia”
There is a butterfly that lives on the tears of sleeping birds. This fact was first on Chelsea Wolfe and producer Cressa Beer’s mind when they put together the utterly captivating stop-motion video for “Anhedonia.” It’s a nightmarish journey through grief and darkness that still manages a lot of beauty. Like so many videos of the year, it’s about how we deal with trauma. And it’s nice to have such a wide menu of ways to do it.
5. Des Rocks, “Imaginary Friends”
We’ve all wanted to escape a bad situation, but no one has portrayed it in such wonderful style as Des Rocks 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 terrific band, but their directing eye is as sharp as their mind. “Savage Good Boy” shows her trapped in a controlling relationship with Michael Imperioli (Lucifer) until she does the only sensible thing and eats it. Extra live goes to Hannah Arnold for the excellent costumes, including a stupendous rendition 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, but nothing even comes close to “Better” perfection. 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 makes the video feel trapped in the past.
2. Ladyhawke + BROODS, “Guilty Love”
Director Lula Cucchiara delivers a brilliant take on forbidden love under religious condemnation. Phoenix Kahlo Connolly and Ana Kelliher play younger versions of the artists who pursue a relationship under the furious gaze of the administrators of their Catholic school. It’s exhilarating and presented with a deft eye for drama that sends the story off the ground as if pulled from a trebuchet.
1. Soen, “Deceiver”
Producer Daniele Zed Berretta has finally completed the epic trilogy of videos started with “Monarch” and “Illusion.” Combined, they weave an intricate story of magic and broken time that stands as one of the greatest heavy metal stories ever to hit YouTube. Truly, the whole work is a massive achievement for the art form, and that’s why it’s the best underground video of the year.