The 25 Best Music Videos of 2012

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In this age of Internet searches and YouTube playlists, a great video can pluck a song from obscurity and make it a worldwide sensation. Music videos can also be political statements, emotional confessions, or even just lighthearted fare for established fans of the music. Here are the 25 music videos that brought humor, insight, opinions, and often just plain fun into the world of music this year.

25. YN Rich Kids – “Hot Cheetos & Takis”
Director: 13TwentyThree Photography
A bunch of kids rapping about their favorite gas station snacks? Sounds cute, but more than likely forgettable. The video for “Hot Cheetos & Takis,” which was released this August, is anything but forgettable. The kids spitting out verses appear to be genuinely talented, the rhymes are legitimately clever, their flows are seamless and their confidence and charisma are off the charts. If you listen to it a few times in a row, you’ll more than likely be singing about having “fingers stained red” in your head for the rest of the day. All this being said, I still have no idea what Takis are.—Ryan Bort

24. Killer Mike – “Reagan”
Directors: Daniel Garcia and Harry Teitelman
Comprised of stunning red, white, blue and black animation, Killer Mike’s video for “Reagan” is about as political as popular music gets. In between occasional cutaways to an evil, puppet-style depiction of Ronald Reagan reciting sound clips of the late ex-president himself, Killer Mike raps explicitly about the damaging effects of politics and the corruption that runs rampant in presidential administrations from Reagan to Obama. The animation tells the story along with Killer Mike, graphically depicting everything from “them bricks [coming] on military planes” to how the cops “would beat us up if we had diamonds on our watches.”—Ryan Bort

23. Cloud Nothings – “No Future / No Past”
Director: John Ryan Manning
It’s hard not to be drawn in by the visual of this white-haired man, who seems to be generally well-kept, being dragged through roughage, clenching his fists and grasping for a hold on the ground beneath him. His hopeless and scared facial expressions are made more compelling by putting the viewer into the man’s position with shots of sky and treetops. His ultimate rise through the trees into the air feels symbolic, but it’s the little details like his penny loafers and the hopscotch drawing he glides over that make his character feel real.—Dacey Orr

22. Purity Ring – “Lofticries”
Director: AG Rojas
The grungy beginning to this ethereal track from Purity Ring draws you in, but there’s no consistent main character in the collection of portraits that make up this video for “Lofticries.” All of the characters seem somewhat lonely, and particularly captivating is the stark scene with an old shirtless man drinking milk. The scenes are depressingly commonplace, but ultimately, that makes them fascinating.—Dacey Orr

21. Grizzly Bear – “Yet Again”
Director: Emily Kai Bock
Following the strange post-practice plight of an ice skater, this video is remarkable for its portrayal of a beautiful and graceful routine followed immediately by a painfully awkward plod in ice skates on unfrozen ground. The young woman’s screams of madness at the close of the video are chilling to view after the length of her strange trip home, but they remain visually stunning. Director Emily Kai Bock clearly knows how to capture human emotion in a way that’s unexpected yet strangely familiar.—Dacey Orr

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