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Opinion and Insight

Best Of 2016's Music Videos: Part 2

Leland Music narrows down 2016’s vast promo output

Best Of 2016's Music Videos: Part 2

Instead of being ruthlessly cut-throat with our selections of Best Music Videos of 2016, our solution is to look instead at some key themes and trends featured in the promos of 2016, and list out some faves from each. You can view part one of our series here.

Two more themes that cropped up again and again throughout the year were films that looked at society’s issues, and the resurgence of nostalgic aesthetics through out-dated formats and effects. 


A$AP Rocky feat. A$AP Nast, Skepta, Yung Lord – Money Man

Label: RCA 
Director: Dexter Navy

“Money Man” is another addition to the epic long-form music videos of 2016. Influenced by the French cult classic, La Haine (1995), as well as David O. Russell’s Three Kings (1999), A$AP Rocky’s 12 minute film talks of a new drug epidemic in a modern-day London, examining love, violence, family and escapism. It even features Said Taghmaoui, the screenwriter and actor who starred in La Haine, as the formidable Money Man.

Massive Attack – Come Near Me feat. Ghostpoet

Label: Virgin 
Director: Ed Morris

This film is chilling from the outset. Although we don’t witness overt violence, the slow, backward pace and wary expression on the face of the protagonist as she’s pursued by her male stalker accompanies the lyrics “we’ve been here before” / “don’t fear me” / “don’t stand by the door” / “come near me”. It’s a relentless path of increasing unease, made all the worse when the hope offered by friends who reach out is dashed as the woman retreats, isolated and at the mercy of her abuser.

Bonobo – Kerala

Label: Ninja Tune
Director: BISON

I love the subtlety of the supernatural moments in this film and the everyday locations: is the world being invaded? Or is it all just in her head? Our protagonist seems to be the only one witnessing the bizarre things occurring around her, and the repeating edits beautifully expose the unfolding story, allowing the viewer to fully digest the feeling of mania she’s experiencing.

Sampha – Blood On Me

Label: Young Turks
Director: Alex Lill

Another pursuit: this time our hero is fleeing something that’s chasing him at speed. He falls, and all signs are ominous (“sky is blood red” / “how did they find me, find me” / “I’m so alone now, swerving out of control now”). Sampha’s vocal delivery makes me anxious, even sat at my desk in the middle of the day.

Club cheval – Young Rich and Radical

Label: Parlophone
Director: Laura Weaver

In a kind of 1984-meets-Urban Outfitters setting, this film for the French production group’s “Young Rich and Radical” preaches a life of abstinence, control and discipline. Who needs alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to have a good time? You too can be an eerie soulless clone.


Frank Ocean - Nikes

Label: Boys Don't Cry
Director: Tyrone Leboh

A big NSFW warning on this one. Frank Ocean’s return to the scene in 2016 was long-awaited and his entrance, with the video album Endless, certainly caused a stir. It was quickly followed by the album Blonde, with “Nikes” being the first single from the release. The supporting music video is dense and dreamy, with contrasting scenes shot in warm, grainy film and sharp, high-def clarity. Ocean continues to challenge perceptions of masculinity and gender norms, particularly in the world of hip-hop, with this film.

Mura Masa – What If I Go?

Label: Anchor Point 
Director: Yoni Lappin

I just love everything about this film. It’s a simple story of young love, highlighting the small, beautiful moments that happen between people in the humblest of places every day. I particularly enjoy the short snippets of stop-motion.

CREWSHADE - Show You How To Bop

Label: Innit Recordings 
Director: Jimmy Giannopoulos & Eric Feigenbaum 

CREWSHADE, the side project of Warpaint's Jenny Lee Lindberg and Lolawolf's Jimmy Giannopoulos, have a trashy, distorted sound, so what better way to represent this visually then through the faulty, artefact-prone style of '90s home videos, VHS and broadcasting?

Skepta – Man

Label: Boy Better Know 
Director: Skepta

Skepta owned 2016, picking up the Mercury Prize for his album Konnichiwa, snagging the one and only Drake (who signed to his Boy Better Know label/crew early in 2016), and announcing Greatness Only, a documentary produced by Apple Music and Beats 1 about his decade-long rise to fame. His self-directed promo for “Man” shows he hasn’t forgotten his roots: the film is an exercise in DIY featuring footage from hectic underground shows, run-ins with police and backstage shenanigans.

There's one more edition of our Best Of 2016 Music Videos to go. To keep an eye out for it, be sure to follow us on twitter.

Codie Childs is Senior Music Researcher at Leland Music. Find out more about their work at

Category: Music video , Short films

Genre: Music & Sound Design