While it’s nice to see artists playing some of your favorite songs, sometimes it gets boring to watch a standard performance video. You know the ones: a band performing on stage or in an empty garage, or artists lip-synching dramatically to one of their songs. Deviating from the norm, some dare to re-imagine their songs through dance.
From Janelle Monáe’s fancy footwork to Thom Yorke’s craziest interpretive contortions, we’ve compiled a list of 20 of the best videos that capture modern dance moves.
20. Arcade Fire – “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
This exuberant pop gem is very well-suited to wild dancing, and the video sees people flailing, head banging and busting loose in a trippy dance sequence on a football field conducted by Régine Chassagne, who’s dressed like a sparkly pom-pom herself.
19. Oh Land – “White Nights”
Oh Land’s Nanna Øland Fabricius was a ballet dancer before turning to music, and her technical chops show here in a dream land where everyone’s on their feet.
18. Radiohead – “Lotus Flower”
No one questioned it when Radiohead opted for a full-on dance extravangaza from frontman Thom Yorke instead one of their usual cinematic videos, and you can see why. The man’s got moves.
17. Yelle – “À cause des garçons (Tepr Remix)”
In the remix video for Yelle’s “À cause des garçons” Tecktonik dancers fluidly perform this popular European electro-dance style.
16. Sigur Rós – “Valtari”
Part of a large video compilation, this NSFW contemporary dance video for “Valtari,” where a male and female dancer contort their bodies in unison, vividly evokes the raw emotion of the track.
15. Feist – “1 2 3 4”
Feist’s dance sequence may be even more charming than the song itself. The video sees the singer twirling in a crowd of brightly dressed dancers who sway into a circle! A spiral! A wave!
14. Kanye West – “Runaway”
The perfect mix of class and crass, Kanye West has ballerinas pulling dramatic dance moves while everyone’s toasting to the douchebags. Raise ‘em high, folks.
13. Hot Chip – “Night and Day”
transport us to space in the video for “Night and Day,” where the group boogies in out-of-this-world getups and sith-type robes.
12. Bat for Lashes – “All Your Gold”
Channeling Kate Bush’s interpretive dance glory, Bat for Lashes’ “All Your Gold” has got plenty of beach writhing, hair tossing and expressive hand gestures: all performed in black-and-white ensembles.
11. tUnE-yArDs – “Bizness”
tUnE-yArDs’ creative video for “Bizness” looks like the craftiest art and dance project we’ve never been a part of. Dressed in colorful outfits, the choreography here is all about group coordination, and from a bird’s eye view, you can see her dancers create different formations with their bodies.
10. Beyoncé – “Run the World (Girls)”
Although Beyonce ignited a dance craze with “Single Ladies,” her video for “Run the World (Girls)” is one where she’s pulling out all the stops, and this time, we’re not even trying to imitate. She’s unleashing full-on gender warfare through dance, and guess which side is winning? A small hint—GIRLS. With plenty of attitude and energy, she rocks some moves that could land us in a hospital.
9. Poliça – “Wandering Star”
Poliça’s high-art video for “Wandering Star” tells a story entirely through choreography, as a paint-splattered old woman sees herself surrounded by ethereal, whirling dancers.
8. Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend”
Robyn has crafted a slew of highly creative and original dance moves, and this video is purely her cranking them out. Admittedly, we’re still working on the backwards-roll-into-a-semi-pushup move, but at least we’ve got the arm rolls down by now.
7. The Knife – “A Tooth for an Eye”
The Knife’s “A Tooth for an Eye” imagines the most bizarre gym class ever, with a girl in referee garb conducting a troupe of grown men in a routine that includes high-kicking and swirling arm movements with sparklers in hand. You know that one, right?
6. Here We Go Magic – “How Do I Know”
In Here We Go Magic’s “How Do I Know,” a man has trouble getting rid of his robot. And who could blame him? One of the cutest robots we’ve ever beheld, she kicks up a dance-fueled storm in the desert.
5. Atoms for Peace – “Ingenue”
Here, Thom Yorke retuns to the wild twisting and turning he started on “Lotus Flower,” but this time he’s got a dance partner, and he’s throwing in more finger wiggles and karate chops for good measure.
4. Beirut – “Elephant Gun”
Beirut’s Balkans-style music has everyone whipped up into a frenzy that’s only fueled by brass and oompah percussion. Play on, play on.
3. The xx – “Islands”
The xx’s “Islands” has people dancing in a coordinated mirror effect that’s both artful and mesmerizing.
2. Chairlift – “Amanaemonesia”
Set to an ‘80s-themed karaoke video, Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek dons a body suit to perform movements that seem part yoga, part interpretive dance. Polachek choreographed the video herself with help from noted choreographer Juri Onuku, reportedly taking two months to practice in studios and dance classes. Our favorite move? The nonchalant cigarette flip followed by the bottom wiggle.
1. Janelle Monáe (feat. Big Boi) – “Tightrope”
Janelle Monáe seems to have the swiftest dancing feet on the planet and here she’s using them to release asylum inmates with her sliding, gliding tap shoes.