What’s the Best Music Video of the Year? 5 Critics Pick Their Favorite
LOS ANGELES — The MTV VMAs Video of the Year crown has been placed on some stellar heads over the past three decades. Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” TLC’s “Waterfall,” Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love” are among the category’s royalty.
This year’s Video of the Year nominees, vying to become the next king or queen of the video kingdom, are Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, Sia and Iggy Azalea.
Here five music critics tell Mashable why each video was nominated, which one should win and which videos were snubbed from the Video of the Year category.
Miley Cyrus, ‘Wrecking Ball’
William Gruger, Billboard, chart manager and music tech journalist: It “was nominated not just because it’s Miley Cyrus’ first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, but because its official music video sparked an entire viral video movement. ‘Wrecking Ball’ was so popular because of thousands of fans uploading their own versions of them swinging on the now iconic wrecking ball on YouTube. These videos were so numerous in fact, that ‘Wrecking Ball’ returned to the No. 1 position after a 9-week hiatus, an unprecedented feat in Billboard chart history. It’s a song and a movement that truly connected with fans”.
Bradley Stern, Idolator and MuuMuse, editor: “The key to the success of ‘Chandelier’ lies in its simplicity: Without blowing the budget on set designs, clothing (or any moving parts at all, really) for what could have been a more blunt treatment, the video instead settles squarely on an interpretive dance by a blonde-bobbed 11-year-old Maddie Ziegler (of Dance Moms fame) in a vacant house. In one take, the tiny diva twirls, grins and dances out her inner demons through rooms. The choreography is strange — even a bit creepy at times. It’s as gorgeous as it is unsettling; an unusual quality that kept us watching until the last frame. Plus, the dance itself has gone on to become one of the more iconic (and lampooned!) video moments of the year. Have you seen Jimmy Kimmel’s attempt?”
Pharrell Williams, ‘Happy’
Maria Sherman, Fuse TV, writer: “It has been the year of Pharrell, hasn’t it? Hit after hit, single after single, the man can really do no wrong. ‘Happy’ is Pharrell at his sweetest, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, happiness is the truth. The video shows people from all walks of life really basking in the glory of the mundane. Every day is a blessing, might as well dance. That’s a powerful thing.
Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, ‘Drunk In Love’
Terron Moore, Esquire, contributing writer: “Beyonce as a glitzy spectacle feels so commonplace that a no-frills visual like ‘Drunk in Love’ catches you off-guard — like the rest of her surprise visual album. But Bey is often at her best when she goes simple (think ‘Single Ladies’) and only she could turn a quiet late night beach stroll into a sexy, seductive and dangerous affair with every shameless camera stare-down. Oh, and I guess Jay Z was involved? Yeah, Jay Z is there, too.”
Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX, ‘Fancy’
Hugh McIntyre, Forbes, contributing writer: “The video for ‘Fancy’ is one we’ll remember for years to come. It’s the rare kind of video that got so much buzz online it furthered the song’s momentum, helping it become the massive No. 1 it was. Iggy was on the edge of becoming a household name, and this video gave her that push. Everybody loved it, and it’s undeniably fun. Iggy hit the nail on the head, as Clueless holds a nostalgic place in her target audience’s heart, and no one could truly say they disliked it.”
Which video should win?
Stern: “It’s a tough race, and most of these nominees would make sense if named the winner. Iggy and Charli XCX’s ‘Fancy’ was a spot-on frame-by-frame reenactment that brought a lot of joy and nostalgia to the pop scene, and Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ is a stunning work of art. But, ultimately, Miley’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ was perhaps the most iconic visual of last year: The sledgehammer-licking, the nude wrecking ball ride — it was offensive, outrageous and all-too-obvious all at once. For pushing the world’s buttons the most, Miley deserves the award.”
Moore: “I’m shocked to say that of the five contenders, Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ feels like the immediate standout. Terry Richardson directs an envelope-pushing video that’s all parts bizarre, provocative and emotional. The VMAs rarely get Video of the Year right (‘Blurred Lines’ was robbed last year), but heading into Sunday, this is Miley’s Moonman to lose.”
McIntyre: “Honestly, I say ‘Fancy.’ Again, it was probably the most talked about clip this year, and I think it’s in the lead compared to the others.”
Sherman: “Of the videos nominated, I’m all for ‘Happy.’ Pharrell knows how to bring joy to people and that’s illustrated beautifully in the video. It’s a real tearjerker, in the best way possible, and if it’s something for kids and moms alike, I say Pharrell’s doing the lord’s work … or something.”
Gruger: “It’s going to come down to ‘Wrecking Ball’ or ‘Happy.’ Similar in the way Miley created a movement where fans participated by uploading their own versions of the video, Pharrell accomplished this on a global level. People from all across the planet created their own country-specific versions of the video, propelling ‘Happy’ to the No. 1 position for 10 weeks. It was so powerful that Pharrell even had an emotional breakdown on Oprah. The video’s debut was epic as well, and the 24-hour music video concept was both novel and unprecedented.”
Which video was snubbed for Video of the Year?
Stern: “Oh, that’s an easy one: It’s Britney, b*tch! ‘Work Bitch’ was objectively one of Britney’s best videos in years — the desert dancing, the orgy scenes outside Planet Hollywood, whips, exploding mannequins — I mean, hello, she’s got CGI sharks swimming at her side. And it was everywhere, too. Even South Park delivered a parody of the video. How was this overlooked? Then again, she’s been snubbed for years by MTV, but this is certainly their most outrageous omission yet.”
Moore: “It’s a crime that DJ Snake and Lil’ Jon’s ‘Turn Down for What’ clip isn’t in the conversation for Video of the Year, easily the most eye-popping, gasp-inducing, must-share-everywhere video of 2014 (if you’re not counting 17 Beyonce vids, of course). Its nods in the technical categories (Best Direction, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects) just aren’t enough.”
Gruger:“‘Dark Horse’ by Katy Perry. It’s the most-watched music video on YouTube that was released in 2014.”
McIntyre: “I would have given a nod to Katy Perry’s ‘Roar,’ if just because it’s so adorable. I also would have given Kiesza’s ‘Hideaway’ more attention than just Best Choreography. Lastly, I do think Beyonce deserves some love here, but not for ‘Drunk In Love.’ I probably would have gone with ‘Partition’ instead.”
Sherman: “5 Seconds of Summer’s ‘She Looks So Perfect.’ Australia’s One Direction (OK, they’re more Green Day than Backstreet Boys) remind teen girls everywhere that it’s cool to swoon over cute dudes that play guitar. The video highlights their power pop punk prowess and there’s partial nudity a la Blink-182’s ‘What’s My Age Again?’ Who doesn’t like dancing in their skivvies?”