January 03, 2014 10:00am PT by Philiana Ng
Best of 2013: 10 Top Music Videos of the Year
The standard for music videos was upped in 2013.
From Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" and Beyonce's surprise "visual album" release to Pharrell Williams' innovative 24-hour music video, touted as the first of its kind, and Arcade Fire's live The Hollywood Reporter runs down 10 of the top music videos of 2013.
Arcade Fire, "Afterlife (Live)"
Arcade Fire's music video for the Reflektor track was directed live by Her helmer Spike Jonze during the frenetic YouTube Music Awards in November. Featuring a dancing Greta Gerwig with frontman Win Butler singing in the background, the idea was to create new content -- with the help of auteurs and artists -- in the duration of a telecast. Though the awards show itself was often chaotic (there were no scripts), one of the better live music videos was a five-minute template of how music videos could be produced in the future.
Just when we were about to say goodbye to 2013, Beyonce surprised the world by dropping a "visual album" in the middle of the night on Dec. 13 featuring 14 tracks and 17 music videos. (Yes, 17.) Whether it was "Blue," which features Beyonce's daughter Blue Ivy, or the Destiny's Child reunion in "Superpower" or the spicy, beachside duet with husband Jay Z in "Drunk in Love," Beyonce stole the show with just days to spare in 2013.
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
2013 was a big year for Justin Timberlake: two No. 1 albums, a summer co-headliner with Jay Z, two memorable Saturday Night Live appearances, "Timberweek" on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, an 'NSync reunion and a solo world tour. One of his most memorable music videos from the year is the eight-minute epic for "Mirrors," directed by Floria Sigismondi that follows a couple over several decades. (It's also dedicated to his grandparents.) The music video, which showcased Timberlake's slick dance moves and the standout Christian Louboutin Gareth zip men's flats, won him MTV's top prize at the Video Music Awards -- though the 32-year-old singer doesn't appear until nearly six minutes in.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Can't Hold Us"
Filming for the music video took nearly three weeks and brought Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to various locales, including the University of Southern California, the Space Needle in Seattle and on a pirate ship in the middle of the sea. The duo's ambitious, over-the-top globe-trot -- which could be viewed as their intentions of world domination -- showed in the April debut of the "Thrift Shop" followup.
Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"
The former Disney Channel star's risque "Wrecking Ball" may have gotten all the attention, but it was the music video for her pop anthem "We Can't Stop" -- with 326 million views and counting -- that broke through in 2013. In the span of three and a half minutes, Miley Cyrus did away with any semblance of her former image, fully embracing her new coming-of-age look and attitude. Plus, she "brought back" twerking.
Pharrell Williams, "Happy"
Producer/singer Pharrell Williams took it up another notch when he made the world's first (ambitious) 24-hour music video for "Happy," an original four-minute song written for Despicable Me 2. Williams kicked it off at midnight appearing at the top of every hour, and during the 24-hour time span, the music video featured cameos by Jamie Foxx, Jimmy Kimmel, Steve Martin, Steve Carell, Tyler the Creator, Kelly Osbourne and Magic Johnson, among others. In one highlight moment, Williams is seen dancing with a group of life-size minions at a Los Angeles movie theater.
Phoenix, "Trying to Be Cool"
French indie outfit Phoenix opted for something different in its video for "Trying to Be Cool." Produced with The Creators Project and directed by the collective CANADA, the music video was filmed live during the duration of the song with two camera crews switching off as time dwindled every 20 seconds or so. If one of the crews missed their mark when the countdown hit zero, the video would go to black. You'd also catch glimpses of what was to come as crewmembers quickly worked behind the scenes to set up the next shots, culminating in a choreographed dance with Phoenix right at center of the action.
Simple music videos often get overlooked and there's something cathartic about Rihanna's for her emotional ballad, "Stay," featuring Mikky Ekko. The makeup-free singer spends the entire video in a bathtub as she is seen in her most vulnerable state, wondering exactly what went wrong.
Robin Thicke, "Blurred Lines"
With help from T.I. and Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke took over summer radio with "Blurred Lines." The singer even released two music videos, catering to different audiences: a NSFW version with clothing optional and a more PG-friendly version. The video itself is pretty simple, with numerous women walking past Thicke, T.I. and Williams during the course of the song.
Ylvis, "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)"
Was Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis' "The Fox" this year's "Gangnam Style"? Perhaps. With ridiculous lyrics like "Dog goes woof / Cat goes meow / Bird goes tweet / And mouse goes squeak / Cow goes moo / Frog goes croak / And the elephant goes toot," you're bound to hit the viral jackpot. Since hitting YouTube in early September, the music video has garnered more than 317 million views and catapulted Ylvis to international acclaim (and a No. 1 bestselling children's book).
What were your favorite music videos from 2013?