Animated music videos are popular again, here are the best we’ve seen recently.
Music videos have been changing the game in pop culture for decades. I mean, who hasn’t spent their time binging MVs of their favorite artist?
Not only is it another medium for singers to show off their creative vision, but it’s also a vehicle for other artists to add visual depth to the music. Whether it’s to add to their lore or to tell a completely different story altogether, there are endless possibilities for music video storylines.
The best animated music videos give you a more profound understanding of the artist and their concepts. That’s why until today, the unrestricted nature of MVs makes them a great source of creative inspiration.
A Brief History of Animated Music Videos
The animated music video boom took off in the last 3 years, but it’s been around for far longer. The earliest animated MV appeared in 1979 released by Elvis Costello & The Attractions called “Accidents Will Happen”.
In the early days of MV creations, animated elements were often mixed with live action. In A-ha’s “Take on Me” music video, a huge chunk of the video focuses on roughly drawn comic book art with fluid animations.
Today, animated music videos have become synonymous with pop culture. These MVs have hints of 90s anime, with a focus on intergalactic and cyber aesthetics. In fact, even big artists like Dua Lipa and Doja Cat have used this retro aesthetic to complement their music releases.
To be specific, animation allows for flexibility and a level of creativity that’s not always present in traditional camera work.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 animated music videos of 2022 and 2023.
1. Tek it – Cafuné
Cafune first released this song in 2021. But, with a little magic from Tiktok creators and a slowed-down version, it quickly rose to fame among young audiences. The soft rock melody is complemented by an indie-inspired music video.
The video is told through the eyes of a black magical cat and its owners–a pair of lovers. The 2D animation style features funky galactic elements and a romantic journey in the stars. Aside from a captivating storyline, it also features a sweet art pop color palette.
2. Let You Down – Dawid Podsiadło
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has been one of Netflix’s stunners in 2022. The story centers around a group of teens trying to survive a body modification-obsessed society. The series is action-packed and thrilling, but it’s not without its emotional moments.
Let You Down has a plot-focused music video and tells the story of Sacha Yakovleva’s mission to uncover her mother’s painful past. It’s rife with action sequences and heartfelt flashback scenes that fully flesh out the character, who did not appear in the series.
3. Light of Day – ODESZA
The premise of ODESZA’s Light of Day music video is simple. An old and ragged man emerges from a cave, desperately trying to reach a distant peak. His surroundings are frozen and dangerous, and the environment is clearly turbulent.
The video features 3D animation, but with heavy brush strokes for a more humanistic and paint-style feeling. This animation style combined with motion capture technique applied in the background for a more realistic terrain.
4. I Gotta Cry – Klaus Layer
In the mood for something that’s a bit trippy? I Gotta Cry takes you to places…weird ones. The music video recalls 30s to 40s animation sequences with psychedelic scenes. Grainy, hand-drawn, and somewhat grotesque figures will pervade your screens here.
The visuals are a somewhat odd accompaniment to the upbeat sound produced by Klaus Layer, but it works. Because the song has no lyrics, it’s pretty easy to follow the trippy storyline that takes place. Anthropomorphic strawberries and all.
5. Nxde – (G)I-DLE
(G)I-DLE’s Nxde is primarily a live-action video, but we think they deserve a shoutout for their seamless animated elements. The whole music video is an homage to 50s old Hollywood glamor, specifically Marilyn Monroe.
The 2D animation calls to mind visuals similar to Jessica Rabbit, bombshell women figures who are hounded by paparazzi and the media. The animated elements strengthen the song’s overall message–a powerful anthem about women standing up against the male gaze.
6. Your Horoscope For Today – “Weird Al” Yankovic
Weird Al is back on our radar again. This time, for releasing MVs for some of his more obscure songs in the 90s. Your Horoscope for today has 50s style animation with retro cartoon animations that remind you of shows like The Flintstones.
The music video has an engaging animation style, with color-rich and intriguing visuals that add to the thrill of the story. Overall, it’s a great introduction to the musical and visual aesthetics of the artist.
7. Womp Portal – Ganja White Night x Subtronica
Ganja White Night is an EDM animation specialist who frequently collaborates with electronic rave artists. His 2D animation style is fluid yet powerful, often pairing beat drops with repetitive visual cues. He favors bright and bold color combinations for the ultra-rave feel.
Womp Portal features Ganja’s signature martial arts moves with powerful execution that are emphasized by smoke, lightning, and a cinematic beat drop.
8. Cracker Island ft. Thundercat – Gorillaz
The original purveyors of animated music videos are back–and they’re still kicking. Cracker Island features 3D animated Gorillaz characters in live-action environments. It’s particularly special because of how expressive the characters are and how they managed t
Gorillaz’s sound has evolved, and that’s a good thing. Thundercat appears in the video sparingly, but bathed in a bold orange light, occasionally taking over other characters in the video.
9. Cash In Cash out – Pharrell Williams
Claymation is not the first choice most rappers would go for when going for a music video concept. But for Pharell Williams, this executive decision seriously paid off. The video features the rappers in clay form and a rotating centerpiece of other hand-made clay figures.
Though the execution is different, it contains classic rap motifs–money, women, and chains. With superb lighting and maximalist details, it’s a cut above other rap and hip-hop MVs.
10. All The Best – SIAMES
This new release from SIAMES goes from simple and sweet to psychedelic real fast. What starts out as an innocent music video slowly turns into a wavy frenzy where characters are literally melting off.
It’s proof that animated music videos don’t have to mix complex techniques to make things work. Sometimes, a simple and straightforward concept with flawless execution is all you really need.
[Bonus] Animation Music Visualizers That Seriously Impressed
Traumazine – Megan Thee Stallion
As a long-time lover of anime, it’s not a surprise to see Megan Thee Stallion incorporate animated graphics into her new song releases. The Traumazine visualizers are animations on a loop that features the female rapper’s anime persona in various situations.
Fire Again – Ashnikko
Video game music videos are always one of the most hyped visuals of the year. The Valorant Fire Again visuals include its audience base in the game’s lore beautifully. It depicts players crossing different landscapes while engaging in cinematic showdowns with other enemies.
the mockingbird and THE CROW – HARDY
It seems like claymation is coming back stronger this year. HARDY follows the footsteps of Pharell Williams and released a claymation MV that features a narrative story. As the song progresses, we’re taken in by visual landscapes, character developments, and a compelling storyline.
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