Best Music Videos of 2018: Ariana Grande, Beyonce and More!
By Desiree Murphy
Courtesy of YouTube / VEVO
Reflecting on this year in music, artists across all genres arguably released some of the most memorable music videos we've seen in quite some time.
Inspired by everything from TV shows, to movies, to art, technology and politics, the visuals that accompanied the year's most popular lyrics were equally as strong and definitely didn't go unnoticed. Now, ET takes a look back at some of the best music videos we were gifted with in 2018, ahead of an all-new year of music to come!
"APES**T" -- The Carters
Release Date: June 16 Directed By: Ricky Saiz Why We Love It: Only Beyoncé and JAY-Z could get away with taking over The Louvre in Paris, France, to shoot a music video! The art-loving power couple plays into the wealth, status and royalty of the Renaissance era in the six-minute video, recontextualizing classical art with stunning visual narratives and innovative choreography by JaQuel Knight and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. "I think it was important to my mother to surround us with positive, powerful, strong images of African and African-American art so that we could see ourselves in them," Beyoncé told The New York Times in 2017. "My mother has always been invested in making women feel beautiful ... her art collection always told the stories of women wanting to do the same."
"Baby" -- Bishop Briggs
Release Date: Sept. 6 Directed By: Malia James Why We Love It: Speaking of strong visuals, one video that may have gone under your radar this year is this trippy masterpiece, compliments of SEED Animation and illustrator Anja Slibar. The animated video tells the tale of a girl and her "f**kin' crazy" boyfriend that seems to transform, at parts, into something like the amphibian creature from The Shape of Water. "This was the first time I’ve ever done an animated video and I couldn't have asked for a better team to do it with. This song is all about being free to be yourself, so having the ability to use animation to help depict the crazy things going on in my mind is the ultimate dream," Bishop explained at the time of its release. "I hope you enjoy the magical places this video goes and let your mind run wild."
"This Is America" -- Childish Gambino
Release Date: May 5 Directed By: Hiro Murai Why We Love It: The rapper -- also known as Atlanta producer and star Donald Glover -- released what Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine called "one of the most impactful, thought-provoking and intelligent videos ever made." Featuring choreography by Sherrie Silver, Childish Gambino takes viewers on a journey where all people want to do is sing and dance despite the fact that chaos is erupting in the background, with people rioting and dying. It's a brilliant, yet disturbing illustration of America's normalization of violence and injustice. "To speak of [gun violence] and then have the racial undertones, and people running after him at the end, like a slave running off of a plantation, the visuals of it are brilliant," Dear White People star Antoinette Robertson raved to ET. "He's a genius. Period, point black."
"Thank U, Next" -- Ariana Grande
Release Date: Nov. 30 Directed By: Hannah Lux Davis Why We Love It: The official music video for Grande's post-breakup anthem had us feeling all sorts of nostalgia thanks to the singer paying homage to her favorite girl-power movies, Legally Blonde, Bring It On, Mean Girls and 13 Going on 30. Not to mention, the Boca Raton, Florida, native even dropped some secret messages to her exes throughout the video, and packed it with guest cameos from stars like Jonathan Bennett, Jennifer Coolidge, Troye Sivan and Kris Jenner. "When you're Ariana Grande, you can get just about anybody to open that DM or somebody to answer that call," Davis told ET. "It was all very fast."
"Finesse (Remix)" -- Bruno Mars feat. Cardi B
Release Date: Jan. 4 Directed By: Bruno Mars, Florent Dechard Why We Love It: This duo also took us back in time, drippin' in finesse with vivid outfits, cool choreography and retro lighting all inspired by In Living Color. Former Fly Girl Jennifer Lopez seemingly approved of it at the time, using the hashtag #finesse when she posted a throwback video of herself on the set of the iconic '90s sketch show. "This video is dedicated to one of my favorite TV shows of all time," Mars tweeted. "Shout out to the people over at Fox Studios and a very special thank you to [series creator] @keeneniwayans."
"IDOL" -- BTS feat. Nicki Minaj
Release Date: Aug. 24 Directed By: YongSeok Choi Why We Love It: It would be a crime not to includethe K-pop group on our list, but we have to admit, narrowing it down to just one selection was challenging. After plenty of discussions, it was clear this colorful, dance-heavy video was a favorite amongst our entire staff. Plus, Nicki Minaj makes an appearance, adding even more reason to play it on repeat. "We thought the song would come alive with Nicki Minaj's rapping, so we sent a request," RM explained during a press conference. "Nicki Minaj's side accepted, so it came to be."
"Rich" -- Maren Morris
Release Date: April 9 Directed By: TK McKamy Why We Love It: For all the country music lovers out there, this video -- in which Morris channels her inner bada** bounty hunter, complete with cigarettes, alcohol, dynamite and lavish accessories-- is a must see. Fun fact: It also features her real-life husband, Ryan Hurd.
"Delicate" -- Taylor Swift
Release Date: March 11 Directed By: Joseph Kahn Why We Love It: The singer has never been afraid to poke a little fun at herself (remember "Shake It Off"?), and in this music video, Swift's erratic dance moves and relatable expressions are front and center once again. The video was filmed over two nights in downtown Los Angeles and features the pop star dancing around historic landmarks like the Los Angeles Theatre and Biltmore Hotel like nobody's watching. Despite some fans accusing Swift of copying the work of artists like Spike Jonze, Maddie Ziegler and Britney Spears, it's still one of her stronger videos of 2018.
"I'm Upset" -- Drake
Release Date: June 13 Directed By: Karena Evans Why We Love It: We think it's safe to say no one was "upset" with this music video, which was basically just one legendary Degrassi: The Next Generation reunion! The rapper went back to his fictional community school from the Canadian teen drama and enlisted his former co-stars to party with him, including Nina Dobrev, Jake Epstein, Shane Kippel, Stacey Farber and A.J. Saudin. "There was no acting going on in that video... it was truly a reunion of great friends who hadn't seen each other in years," Epstein told Variety. "Drake’s team and Karena did a fantastic job of orchestrating the whole thing."
"SOS" -- Cher
Release Date: Sept .18 Directed By: Jake Wilson Why We Love It: Come for the catchy cover of the 1975 ABBA hit, stay for the epic cameos! Cher pulled out all the stops for "SOS," calling on her fierce and fabulous female friends -- like Rumer Willis, Betty Who, Trace Lysette, Vella Lovell and Sabrina Jalees -- to star and lip-sync in the empowering video, which pays homage to the original. "This came out of nowhere, this came out of Mamma Mia 2," Cher told ET in September, about why she wanted to do a full ABBA cover album. "I did the movie and I really liked it, and afterward ... I thought it might be fun."
"Taki Taki" -- DJ Snake feat. Selena Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B
Release Date: Oct. 9 Directed By: Colin Tilley Why We Love It: After the infectious track debuted at No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs Billboard chart, this talented team took things to the next level with a steamy music video that we still haven't been able to stop thinking about since its release. Cardi and Selena, both rocking sexy red ensembles, are the dynamic female duo we never knew we needed, and with Ozuna and DJ Snake, they are simply unstoppable. "When I met her, she was such a sweet, adorable person," Cardi said of working with Gomez, in an interview with E! News. "She's really what you see. She's really a sweetheart."
"Filthy" -- Justin Timberlake
Release Date: Jan. 5 Directed By: Mark Romanek Why We Love It: Just a few weeks before his Super Bowl LII Halftime Show performance, the singer surprised fans with the release of this futuristic video, in which Timberlake portrays a modern inventor presenting his latest creation (a humanoid robot) at a tech conference. The dancing robot's flirtatious moves were actually created by an entire team of choreographers hired by J.T. -- Marty Kudelka, AJ Harpold, Tracey Phillips and Ivan Koumaev. Timberlake later revealed via Instagram that he did all the dancing, wearing a head-to-toe motion-capture suit to bring the choreography to life on a computer screen. Impressive, to say the least!
"Big God" -- Florence + The Machine
Release Date: June 20 Directed By: Autumn De Wilde Why We Love It: As many fans stated on Twitter at the time, "Big God," a song about the act of ghosting someone, is "a big mood." Choreographed by Akram Khan and Florence Welch herself, the singer and her girl gang splash around in rainbow-colored fabrics, like something straight from the female troupe on Dancing With the Stars. "She’s electric," De Wilde said of Welch in an interview with i-D, adding that the video was also meant to play on the imagery of witchcraft. "She enters a creative space with you and you start to believe fireworks were inspired by her."
"PYNK" -- Janelle Monae
Release Date: April 10 Directed By: Emma Westenberg Why We Love It: The singer teamed up with Grimes and Tessa Thompson for this sex-positive video, which celebrates femininity, power and self-love. "PYNK is a brash celebration of creation. Self-love. Sexuality. And p***y power!" Monae said of the video, which now boasts over 11 million views on YouTube. "PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nooks and crannies of humans everywhere... PYNK is where the future is born...."
"Nice for What" -- Drake
Release Date: April 6 Directed By: Karena Evans Why We Love It: The rapper showed off some of his favorite ladies in the official music video for "Nice for What," and if we're counting, 16 of them to be exact. Bonus points if you watched the video and could name all the cameos without a Google search. "It was really a collaborative process," black-ish star Yara Shahidi explained to ET. "The director, Karena Evans, is incredible. So young and so talented."
(SPOILER in order of appearance: Olivia Wilde, Misty Copeland, Issa Rae, Rashida Jones, Jourdan Dunn, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tiffany Haddish, Yara Shahidi, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth and Victoria Lejonhjärta, Letitia Wright, Bria Vinaite, Emma Roberts, Syd and Michelle Rodriguez)
"All the Stars" -- Kendrick Lamar feat. SZA
Release Date: Feb. 6 Directed By: Dave Meyers, The Little Homies Why We Love It: The two journey through Africa, transcending time and space, in the beautiful music video for "All the Stars," the first single off Black Panther: The Album. Featuring gorgeous visual effects and plenty of imagery, it's a video that you simply can't ignore. "I think from the jump [the music video aspect has] always been crucial to me," Lamar told Billboard. "Just being a kid watching BET, I'd be on the phone with Dave [Meyers] ... and we'd be watching Missy Elliott videos back in high school, and Busta Rhymes videos. They were always big inspirations. So by the time we got to the point where we can mass produce visuals on that level, we said to each other, 'We all in,' and that we've been waiting for this moment."
"Loyal to Me" -- Nina Nesbitt
Release Date: Aug. 21 Directed By: Debbie Scanlan Why We Love It: The Scottish singer's fusion of ballet and hip-hop moves are literally on point in this aesthetically-pleasing music video, as she and her background dancers prance around a rosy room in pointe shoes and various shades of beige and pink to choreography by Liv Lockwood. "Apart from a few ballet exercises when I was a gymnast, dance is something I've never done, probably for a good reason, but something I've always admired in pop divas growing up," Nesbitt explained. "I thought this was the perfect moment to try it."
"MALAMENTE (Cap.1: Augurio)" -- ROSALÍA
Release Date: May 29 Directed By: Canada Why We Love It: From a bullfight with motorcycles to dancing in the back of a moving semitrailer in Badalona, the Spanish singer really does it all in this clever, entertaining from beginning to end music video. With over 44 million views on YouTube, many media outlets have compared it to the success of Los Del Rio's '90s dance hit craze, "Macarena."
"High Hopes" -- Panic! at the Disco
Release Date: Aug. 27 Directed By: Brendan Walter, Mel Soria Why We Love It: Frontman Brendon Urie defies gravity in this inspirational music video, walking up the side of a skyscraper in Los Angeles. This is the perfect video to watch when you're in need of an extra boost of motivation to get you through a long day, or one step closer to reaching your wildest goals. "No matter how hard your dreams seem, keep going," the band told Rolling Stone. "You might even have to climb up the side of a building in downtown LA, but it'll all be worth it at the top. Stay up on that rise."
"I Love It" -- Kanye West and Lil Pump feat. Adele Givens
Release Date: Sept. 7 Directed By: Kanye West, Amanda Adelson Why We Love It: Last but not least, who could forget this video, one of the most bizarre, but memorable ones we've seen this year? We had to include this one just for the costumes alone, which were recreated when the rappers performed it on Saturday Night Live in September. Even West's family were big fans -- his kids, North and Saint, and nieces and nephews, Reign and Penelope Disick, dressed up as Ye & Lil Pump for Halloween.
What was YOUR favorite music video of 2018? Which bands/artists do you hope to see on next year's list? Let me know on Twitter @desireemurphy!