We watch lots of music videos each week. To end the year we’ve asked staffers to reveal their faves and explain why they made such a personal impact. Future cruising through burnt-out streets with Amber Rose by his side, JAY-Z milking historical cartoons to scrutinize stereotypes, Kesha crushing it by pouring her heart out and reminding us just how athletic her voice truly is – the list is both impressive and broad. Here are some of the most memorable vids of 2017.

Watch the Staff Pick videos in a Playlist

 

Boys – Charli XCX

Proof that you don’t need a big budget to make an impact, Charli delivered her finest effort with this self-directed promo that mines her personal Rolodex and sweet talks a bunch of music boys to get in the frame and writhe around like they’re the females in focus. Here she quashes clichés and hackneyed video tropes—and, as we’ve come to expect with the 25-year-old singer—she does so with a rebellious wink, set to a song punctuated by Nintendo bleeps. Which is pretty appropriate really, ‘cos the girl just leveled up. – Kim Taylor Bennett

HUMBLE. – Kendrick Lamar

Visually stunning and provocative, its release began the cycle for one of the year’s best albums. Each time you watch it, you notice an easter egg that you haven’t seen before. It’s 100 percent deserving of the ‘Video of the Year’ Grammy nom, and all the year-end accolades it has received! – Annie Shapiro

I really love what Kendrick and director Dave Meyers did creatively. The video has several storylines supporting the lyrics, filled with irony and the artists’ interpretations. From basic cinema to high-end special effects, each of them is built on beautiful imagery. – Sammy Choi

Wild Thoughts – DJ Khaled

Chosen because Rihanna isn’t wearing a bra in the video, and that boldness helped set the tone for the second half of a year where women stood up for their bodies in all kinds of ways. – Anupa Mistry

Praying – Kesha

Kesha takes you through her journey from hell, and it’s raw and unapologetic. The colors, the drama, the cinematography, the costumes, the makeup, and oh my god, the singing! That slow build from muted desperation to her triumphant (and insane!) note at the end…because YES, Kesha CAN sing.  You’re along for the ride and definitely affected…somehow even changed. As one usually is with the best music videos. – Parul Chokshi

Faking It – Calvin Harris

Great song from a great album. Also, Kehlani is killin’ it in this video! – Gabriella Prisciandaro

 

Mask Off – Future

Amidst anarchy, Amber Rose and a mirror-painted Bentley coupe (!), Future secures the bag and cements his status among hip-hop’s elite. In a year that saw the Atlanta rapper release two full-length albums, continue his onslaught of guest appearances and wreck shop onstage, it’s the 10-second scene, from 4:36 to 4:46, where director Colin Tilley captures the essence of Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn’s trap-to-star rise. Flanked by DJ Esco, Future nonchalantly removes his designer shades as the camera slowly does a 360 pan around the pair, sans flute and the full power of the “Prison Song” sample boomin’ through. Hagiography complete. – Jayson Rodriguez

 

High – Sir Sly

The visuals and choreography get increasingly eccentric as the video goes on, much like the trip the song is probably about. – Lindsay Sanchez

Buokyaku – Utada Hikaru ft. KOHH

During her six-year hiatus, Utada Hikaru went through so much—the tragic death of her mother, a (second) marriage, and the birth of her son.  This is the best track from her comeback album Fantôme and it features hip-hop artist KOHH (he’s on Frank Ocean’s extended cut of “Nikes”). Simple, beautiful, and personal. – Lika Kumoi

 

The Story of O.J. – JAY-Z

A modern-day take on “The Censored Eleven” – ancient Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies shorts banned due to black stereotyping – Jay-Z tackles racial, social, and economic issues, and delivers it in a palatable manner that resonates with fans both young and old. – Joe Dodd

Up All Night – Beck

2017 has been marked by a series of men falling flat on their faces, only to have women unite and stand tall. Wonder Woman led the charge at the start of the year, and the young heroine at the heart of “Up All Night” grabs her shield and quests through suburban hell (while literally shoving aside Snow White) to save her hapless beau. When you think things might look bleak and the future is hopeless, just remember: the kids are alright.  – James Mecker

Give It To Me – Miya Folick

Simple in concept but unbelievably captivating, the emotional and literal roller coaster of a music video for “Give It To Me” is thrilling in all the right ways. Director Eva Michon’s slo-mo cinematography, and healthy doses of hearty screams gave me goosebumps and left me wanting to take another ride immediately. – Colleen Corkery

Uh Huh – Something Else

If you ever wondered what a hoedown in 3017 on Mars might look like, here’s your answer.  Anton Tammi is certainly a director to watch in 2018.  – Hailey Rovner

Pork Soda – Glass Animals

Hypnotic track, a dancing dog, and one of the year’s most memorable lyrics: “pineapples are in my head; got nobody cause I’m braindead.” Both the song and video build their drama slowly and purposefully until reaching a literal breaking point where everything comes crashing down – a perfect pairing of music and visuals. – David McTiernan

Power – Rapsody

It should come as no surprise that “Power” tops my 2017 list. Her biggest video ever, from the Grammy-nominated Laila’s Wisdom, is so strong, it doesn’t even matter that K. Dot doesn’t appear in the video.  – Jordan Glickson

Como Antes – Yandel ft. Wisin

EVERYONE who loves reggaeton was waiting for this Wisin & Yandel reunion. Then, you throw the king of music video directors, Jessy Terrero, into the mix, and “Como Antes” becomes one of the best reggaeton videos of 2017. The song has that classic, old-school reggaeton sound that made me fall in love with the genre, and I love Wisin & Yandel really stayed true to their roots as a duo for this one. – Janely Fernadez

 

Devoted – Rituals Of Mine

Dark, simple, and extremely powerful, this video from the female electronic duo (formerly Sister Crayon) from Northern California will take your visual and sonic senses on a mighty roller coaster ride. Hang on tight! – Justin Prager

 

Build You Up – Kamaiyah

I’m from the Bay Area, so I love the references in the video. Kamaiyah’s great at repping her hometown. – Geoffrey Kim

Wyclef Jean – Young Thug

The hills are alive with the sound of…kiddie cars? Thugger was a no-show during the shoot for this ‘JEFFERY’ album track, so director Ryan Staake pressed on with a handful of sketches they’d discussed. Like 20 models rollin’ downhill in micro whips, tykes clobbering LAPD vehicles with baseball bats and an impromptu barbecue with at least one risqué kielbasa shot. And, importantly, a scrolling text explanation of the star’s perpetual MIA status. The “pick up the phone” MC never made it to the set, but he did donate a tad of footage. Outside the Lear, rhymin’ while boardin’, scarfin’ down Cheetos — Staake FTW.  – Jim Macnie

 

 

Mi Gente – J Balvin & Willy William ft. Beyonce

Definitely one my favorite records of 2017, and its music video is fun, vibrant, and infectious. I can relate to everyone in it because no matter where I am, once this song comes on, I’m dancing. – Rhudy Correa