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.

20. Danny Brown – “Grown Up”
Director: Greg Brunkalla
We never thought we’d put Detroit rapper Danny Brown and “cute” in the same sentence, but that’s the immediate thought that comes to mind in his video for “Grown Up.” It’s sort of an origins tale, with a small Brown riding a bike with training wheels, trashing a classroom, and explaining how he got that signature chipped tooth. Director Greg Brunkalla brings the young streets of Detroit to life in the tale, ultimately seeing the young Brown turn into one of the most promising emerging hip-hop artists we’ve seen in a while.—Tyler Kane

19. Dirty Projectors – “About To Die”
Director: David Longstreth
Several different scenes in this video are made all the more powerful with David Longstreth’s delivery of the main lyric, “I’m about to die.” Whether it’s in bed on a rooftop, enclosed in the back of a truck, or shut up in an archaic bedroom with the pope, if he is in fact on the verge of death, no one seems to be very concerned about it. Each scene is as bizarrely constructed as we’ve come to expect from Dirty Projectors. Longstreth’s creative control over the band’s videos is admirable, and the way he’s reconstructed footage from “Hi Custodian” is impressively appropriate to the song it represents.—Dacey Orr

18. Benjamin Gibbard – “Teardrop Windows”
Director: Tom Scharpling
Benjamin Gibbard: Bad boy. Yeah, we’re still thinking on that one, too. Director Tom Scharpling has had a great run of music videos this year, notably with Aimee Mann’s “Labrador” clip and now with Gibbard’s hilarious mini-story in “Teardrop Windows” from the solo album, Former Lives. It follows the promotion of his solo album, which has a PR rep for Gibbard begrudgingly breaking into warehouses, faking drinking binges and starring in his own reality show, Gibbard House.—Tyler Kane

17. Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”
Director: Derek E. Miller, Gregory Kohn
For their sophomore album, Reign of Terror, noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells evolved to include more melodic arrangements for lead singer Alexis Krauss and slightly peppier synth fills from Derek Miller. This departure was no more apparent than on the headline single, “Comeback Kid,” and the video for this track serves as a testament for the duo’s ability to maintain their edge while opening up to musical territories they had yet to explore. Immediately noticeable are the vibrant colors that fill the video and match the composition’s clean production. Amidst various shots of Krauss dancing and the two interacting with one another, the duo also manages to take the coolest shopping trip in the history of convenience stores.—Brian Tremml

16. Of Monsters & Men – “Little Talks”
Director: WeWereMonkeys
Of Monsters and Men’s video for “Little Talks” looks like it was filmed inside the brain of Terry Gilliam. A steampunk flying ship, a giant singing crow, a monster buffalo, a many-tentacled sea serpant and a Björk-like pixie angel who shoots bombs from her mouth are just the lead up to the five-eyed, four-horned mystical creature with flaming rainbow bat-wings at the end. Iceland is such a wonderfully weird place.—Josh Jackson

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