There was a lot of great music in 2017, but also, so pretty cool music videos that caught my attention. It can be difficult to capture visually what a song is trying to say, especially when that meaning becomes subjective when it’s cycled through the life experiences of a listener. Here are a few videos that I enjoyed and felt inspired by this year.
Rainbow City – Cloud Control
Cloud Control returned strong this year with Zone, their first album since 2013’s Dream Cave. They premiered their video for the first single “Rainbow City” in May and it’s a visual masterpiece. Directed by Imogen Grist, I love this video’s use of color and movement. Plus the vocal faceoff of the Lenffer siblings is a bonus. One of my favorite things about Cloud Control is how they layer so many vocal lines simultaneously, becoming their own choir. This video captures that visually in a striking way.
Meadow – Jessica Lea Mayfield
As mentioned in my Top Albums post, Jessica Lea Mayfield‘s Sorry Is Gone was a strong album with very specific and important message. Moving on from domestic abuse, divorce, and the end of any relationship is difficult. Natalie Neal directed this video which is full of colorful, visual, and graphic artistic storytelling. Among the many scenes are Mayfield portrayed as a marionette as well as an unapologetic fire starter.
Goose Snow Cone – Aimee Mann
You can always count on Aimee Mann to break your heart, maybe even your spirit, with the most beautiful song in the most melancholy charm. “Goose Snow Cone”, the first single from her 2017 release Mental Illness, is no exception. I have to admit I shed a few tears while watching this one for the first time. Anyone who has ever had to take their pet to the vet, and especially have it kept overnight knows that sinking feeling of helplessness and loneliness that follows. I don’t want to give too much away, but you should definitely watch the video in its entirety.
The video was directed by Rob Hatch-Miller & Puloma Basu who are also the owners of Goose the cat; Puloma starred in the video as herself and the vet was portrayed by Aimee’s actual vet.
Bonus: The Making of Mental Illness
The Embers – Vagabon
Watching Vagabon‘s Laetitia Tamko dance with herself in a room full a fish aquariums while declaring “Run and tell everybody Laetitia is… a small fish” is empowering on so many levels. Vagabon’s Infinite Worlds seemed to catch the media by storm this year, mainly because people were excited to see a young black woman in indie rock. I’m here to let you know we’ve been knocking on the door for a long time, but I’m glad that this amazing album opened eyes and ears and received the attention it deserves. Tamko wrote and co-produced the debut album which was released on Father/Daughter Records in February. The video was directed by Zadie.
The Weekend – SZA
Taking a nod from where the cliffhanging dance scenes in Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” video left off, SZA‘s “The Weekend” (directed by Solange) is a powerful visual companion to the audio track. In the song, the lyrics detail the emotions, thoughts, and expectations as the other woman, whom her man sees on the weekend. Dancing solo in empty spaces and wide-frame shots is the perfect way to visually portray this story of being alone while at the same time being with someone; being content, while also wishing for more. SZA’s debut album CTRL was released in June of 2017.
BONUS: To Heck With Ole Santa Claus – Jessica Lea Mayfield (Loretta Lynn Cover)
I love Christmas, but this spin on a Loretta Lynn tune is not only gorgeously reimagined, the video drives the lush, slow-country, cover home. Jessica Lea Mayfield covered this track for Amazon Music’s Indie for the Holiday playlist and seemed to take real pleasure in this Christmas downer. The video, directed by Christopher Good, is like A Christmas Story meets The Virgin Suicides; even Christmas enthusiasts like myself can admit that Santa had it coming. That glare at 1:03 says it all.
BONUS: Thundercat on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts
One of my favorite Tiny Desk Concert performances of this year. Amazing musicianship and you can’t miss that outfit. Read more about this set here.