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The Best Music Videos of 2017

Every year there are music videos from a wide range of genres that impress us, challenge us, or even make us laugh. With that in mind, here are the best music videos of 2017.

When contemplating the best music videos of 2017, there are a lot of factors to consider: Genre, message, visual content, etc. Instead of narrowing the choices down to one particular theme or genre, this list dips into multiple. From hip hop to metal videos, what follows is a sampling of some of the best music videos across the board.  

"HUMBLE." by Kendrick Lamar

This list isn't ranked in any particular way, but it's safe to say that for many music fans, Kendrick Lamar took the cake this year when it came to music videos. One of the best elements of "HUMBLE." is its unpredictability. As a first-time viewer, you don't know where the next frame is going to take you. One second the rapper appears as a religious official of the highest order, the next his and his crew's heads are all on fire. 

What makes this approach so intriguing is that it gives the viewer a sense that the artist can do or be anything he wants; he's a shapeshifter. As seen in his take on The Last Supper, Lamar and his posse can help themselves to life's luxuries. You might have to be humble, but it's clear he does not.   

"Forever" by Code Orange

The 2018 Grammys nominees list has been released, and it contains a few surprises. One of if not the biggest surprise is that Code Orange, a contemporary hardcore beatdown band, is nominated for the Best Metal Performance category. Specifically, they were nominated for the song this music video promotes, "Forever." Basically, we're not the only ones who think this qualifies as one of the best music videos of 2017. 

The word "brutal" doesn't do this band justice. As the music video illustrates, Code Orange are not afraid of pushing boundaries; far from it, as the main plot line of the video is the bassist dragging a dead body around. Dark rituals and a black, white, and red color palette contribute to this video's deep impact.   

"Hell Below" by Phinehas

Phinehas is another band that has made one of the best metal videos of the year. Their music video for "Hell Below," a single off of their recently released record Dark Flag, is part one of a story about North Korean political prisoners. 

North Korea has been in the news for a large part of 2017 due to the intensifying conflict between their country and the United States concerning nuclear weapons. However, while the politics dominate the headlines, the suffering of the North Korean people is overshadowed. This video describes the violations of human rights that occur on a daily basis while the majority of the world turns a blind eye. The song's message is powerful enough on its own, but the music video makes its point absolutely heart-wrenching. 

"The Story of O.J." by Jay-Z

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Jay-Z talked quite a bit about racism and what it means to be black today. "The Story of O.J.," a song off of the rapper's new record, 4:44, samples actual audio clips of the superstar athlete turned murder suspect's opinions on blackness. "I'm not black, I'm O.J." is a quote the world will never forget, and neither did Jay-Z. 

This music video is one of the best music videos of 2017 because it shows us a very real piece of our nation's past that most people either don't know about or refuse to acknowledge. As early as the 1930s, racist cartoons like this one portrayed black people as buffoonish, animalistic characters. Jay-Z uses this piece of history to highlight United States's modern racial problems and to create an honest dialogue. 

"Necessary Evil" by Motionless In White feat. Jonathan Davis

Motionless In White is a modern metal powerhouse. They are never shy to say exactly what's on their mind, especially if it's controversial (which it pretty much always is). This song involves everything from industrial to hardcore, and even constructs its chorus around Leslie Gore's 1963 hit, "It's My Party." But even if we make the song itself a footnote, the music video still holds up as one of the most exciting, sexy, and challenging of the year. 

This gothic rave is dripping with explicit sexual content that is meant to make the viewer uncomfortable. MIW always like to point out the hypocrisy of mainstream music culture and the figure of the stereotypical pop star. In this case, the band challenge the average person's idea of sin by creating what is basically an orgy, as if to say, "Sex is all over American culture and you're fine with that, but this makes you cringe?" 

"Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran

Arguably the most successful male pop star today, Ed Sheeran still manages to create sincere and down-to-earth material. The top-charting, record-breaking single, "Shape of You," was not only playing constantly on nearly every radio channel for weeks, but also prompted an endearing music video. 

At it's core, the idea for the video is simple: Explore the creation and destruction of a romantic relationship. As the story plays out, we see little sweet nothings whispered, a heart broken, and Sheeran's determination to fight his way back to the top. And don't forget the most important part — sumo wrestling. 

While this might all seem commonplace, it's actually very abnormal for the music industry. In this video, we see scenes taken out of what appears to be a normal life, while other music videos up for "the best music videos of 2017" are totally outrageous and larger-than-life. With this video, Ed Sheeran accomplishes what he is so naturally adept at: exploring the basic human experience. 

"DNA." by Kendrick Lamar

Surprise, surprise! There's another Kendrick Lamar music video on this list. This time, what makes Lamar's video worthy of praise is its narrative. The acting is superb, both on the part of Lamar himself and guest star Don Cheadle. 

Like Jay-Z's music video mentioned earlier, "DNA." is also racial commentary. But what makes this video so engaging is not the use of cartoons, but the heated back and forth between Lamar and Cheadle's characters as they turn the lyrics of the rap into a debate. Watching this video is truly a thought-provoking experience. 

"1-800-273-8255" by Logic feat. Alessia Cara, Khalid

This song's title is the number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, so you can guess what it's about. But it's not just the topic that makes "1-800-273-8255" notable. The hip hop song and music video confront this major issue with impressive storytelling and care, sending a message of hope and understanding to any viewers or listeners that find themselves battling severe depression. 

The seven minute video can easily be categorized as a short film, as it has a clear storyline, character development, and a powerful conclusion. The mark of a great video is the emotion it stirs within the viewer, and if this music video doesn't move you, you clearly weren't watching.  

"Stick to Your Guns" by Watsky feat. Julia Nunes

While the best music videos of 2017 tend to be named such for their artistry and their message, it's important to remember the value of humor and fun. Watsky has always been a rather idiosyncratic rapper, introducing a presence and a style that is not common in that genre. His music video for the song "Stick to Your Guns" can show you why that is. 

Sheep! Weird, eyes-bulging, human-like sheep! It's the dream world of Watsky, and it's as strange as you'd suppose it to be. The song itself actually has pretty heavy lyrical content, but Watsky gives it an upbeat, happy sound and that dynamic is mimicked in the music video. 

At first, the sheep are calm and friendly, but then one of them turns evil and starts killing off the other sheep, resulting in zombies. No, choosing this music video as one of the best of the year isn't a joke. The reason this music video rises above others is that it emphasizes the value of imagination. We can honestly say, this video is unlike any other we've seen this year. 

"Too Far Gone" by Cane Hill

You might not be aware of this, but there is a nü metal revival going on. One of the bands quickly rising to the top in this genre is Cane Hill. Their upcoming record, Too Far Gone, took more time to make than fans expected. The reason being? LSD. When they first released details about new material, Cane Hill were open about the fact that they had spiraled a little too far while experimenting with drugs. 

Fortunately for fans, that experience resulted in a freaky but enjoyable music video for the record's title track . The black and white video is far more than your average performance video. Featuring crazed movements and expressions by the members, and neon goop pouring out of every orifice, it shows exactly how off the wall this band is.