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.

15. Explosions in the Sky – “Postcard from 1952”
Director: Peter Simonite & Annie Gunn
Explosions in the Sky has never needed words to tell a story, so it makes sense that the series of images in “Postcard from 1952” communicate the nostalgia of simpler times without getting caught up in a specific plot. With so many flashes of joy—a child running alongside a picket fence, blowing out birthday candles—this video takes the moments that make up our most treasured snapshots and captures them with beautiful cinematography.—Dacey Orr

14. Odd Future – “Oldie”
Director: Lance Bangs
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All has always been controversial; that was more or less the point. But at heart, this is just a group of kids having fun, both for fans and for themselves, which “Oldie” showcases brilliantly as an offhand, spur-of-the-moment, rap-off during a promotional photo shoot. Although lightning rod Tyler The Creator, coolly detached Frank Ocean and precociously talented Earl Sweatshirt in his long-awaited return steal the spotlight, Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, and even Jasper Dolphin all get their turn. In perhaps the best display of Odd Future as an actual collective, “Oldie” captures the youthful excitement that continues to surround them. As Tyler finishes his last verse with “not only are we talented, we’re rad as fuck,” followed by his OF members’ outburst of excitement, one can’t help but simply enjoy these guys as the group of friends that they are.—Zachary Philyaw

13. The Shins – “Simple Song”
Director: DANIELS
This clip features James Mercer as a hilariously frustrating and eccentric father, creating several droll situations between his adult children as they ransack their childhood home for the deed he’s allegedly hidden. As the video flashes back to home videos of Mercer’s character systematically ruining the simple joys of childhood for his kids, the quest for the deed to the home results in the discovery that this, too, is another of Mercer’s characters pointless tricks. “Simple Song” is simply entertaining.—Dacey Orr

12. Drake – “HYFR”
Director: Director X
Answering the question, ‘What would a rap video bar mitzvah look like?’ Drake re-enacts his own for this clip directed by video veteran, Director X, complete with mega-famous rap friends, slow-mo partying, and plenty of line-reciting mugging. Among the glossy rap tropes though, Drake fully embraces his duel Jewish/African-American heritage to create an absurdly fun (and funny) visual as religion and rap meet for what looks like a hell of a good time. As a rapper, Drake is both so appealing and so polarizing because of his often extremely personal subject matter, and here he fully reaps the benefits of this approach with a clip that is simple in concept, yet still entirely his own.—Zachary Philyaw

11. Aimee Mann – “Labrador”
Director: Tom Scharpling
For a song that features such a depressing, hopeless plight, Aimee Mann has successfully spun the video for “Labrador” into something lighthearted which still communicates the redundancy of hopeless loyalty in a negative relationship. In the opening scene, John Hamm hilariously plays the overbearing director with a vision for a video that re-enacts the clip from Mann’s old ‘80s jam with Til Tuesday, “Voices Carry.” The slovenly boyfriend is the man to whom Mann’s character is devoted, and although she sings of a heartbreakingly one-sided relationship, the video takes the situation and makes it seem absurd and unlikely.—Dacey Orr

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