October 2, 2023

Top Country MV

Music videos for your life.

The 6 Best Music Videos of May 2021

Each month, we run down the most memorable clips and celebrate artists who are breaking ground with their visuals.

6. Rostam: “From the Back of a Cab”

Directors: Jason Lester and Rostam

In the simple and affecting video for Rostam’s latest indie-pop track, the camera is trained on the comfy backseat of a taxi as it sails through sunny Los Angeles. Everyone from the Haim sisters to Charli XCX hop in, but the clip isn’t about the star cameos as much as it’s about capturing stolen moments: a melancholy man cradling an empty fish tank, a meet-cute over a bag of groceries, a newly married couple popping a bottle of champagne out of the open window. It’s a sweet exhale of a video, like taking a tipsy ride home after a day out with friends.

5. L’Rain: “Blame Me”

Director: Andy Swartz

Brooklyn experimentalist L’Rain and director Andy Swartz take cues from the theatrical, black-and-white drama of art-house icon Ingmar Bergman in this haunting clip. It showcases the circus performer Tinkcolorful as she slowly plasters on white face paint, tacks on fake eyelashes, and straps on a clown nose, with the camera’s gaze as her mirror. The process feels ritualistic and intimate, especially as the view slowly and disorientingly pans upside down halfway through. Alongside L’Rain’s lyrics of guilt and loss, the stark imagery makes this straightforward clip feel epic.

4. Tirzah: “Sink In”

Director: Leah Walker

There’s an unsettling ambience to Tirzah’s video for her disjointed ballad “Sink In.” With little more than a spotlight as a guide, director Leah Walker captures two people ballroom dancing in ankle-deep water through a shrouded space. The two gyrate closely in a push-and-pull that matches the song’s tilted instrumentation, eventually collapsing onto each other in a feverish kiss. They quickly draw back again, building tension in a disquieting display of intimacy.

3. Olivia Rodrigo: “good 4 u”

Director: Petra Collins

Petra Collins’ hazy, pastel direction is a perfect fit for teen phenom Olivia Rodrigo, who offers a pointed twist on music video iconography with the video for her pop-punk single “good 4 u.” From its surreal opening shot of Rodrigo beset by voyeuristic, filming smartphones, the video captures the ascendant star refitting classic imagery with her own smirking personality: She drops into a “… Baby One More Time”-style gym with reverent cheerleader choreography, then slips on leather gloves to cruise through a hardware store for gasoline to set flame to her childhood bedroom—as well as established teen-pop-star tropes.

2. Little Simz: “Woman” [ft. Cleo Sol]

Director: Little Simz

It’s hard to top the grand opulence on display in Little Simz’s video for “Woman.” With a fleet of models and dancers at her disposal, the UK rapper crafts a vision of femininity that spans every category: supermodel Jourdan Dunn serves a platter of lobster one minute, while Simz serves up cocktails to a crew of women in a speakeasy the next. Flaunting tasseled garments and chandeliered ballrooms, the video is a cheesecake delight that highlights Simz’s praise to women everywhere.

1. Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen: “Like I Used To”

Director: Kimberly Stuckwisch

A collaboration between indie rock stalwarts Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen is enough of a dream on paper. Throw in a video with eerie doubles and a truly exceptional ’70s wardrobe, and it’s stylish perfection. Van Etten and Olsen wear bell bottoms and platform boots in a wood-paneled trailer, lounging around and singing along wearily in split-screen. (The best moment belongs to Van Etten, draped in a multicolored muumuu and smoking a cigarette.) They eventually begin to see each other’s faces in mirrors, their images merging into one as seamlessly as their harmonies.