Here is my definitive list of the best music videos from 2014.
“Shut Up and Dance,” Walk the Moon
Walk the Moon embodies almost every hipster stereotype, right down to the 80’s styling and personas. Except, their songs are too common and easily likable for any true hipster to enjoy. Pitchfork ignores them, which should be a badge of honor. Their 2012 RCA debut album is one irresistible treat after another. The lead single, “Anna Sun,” is a great introduction to the band and to their joie de vivre. Their second RCA album was just released. It does not match-up to the debut album, but the lead single, “Shut Up and Dance,” captures everything I love about the band. If this song and video does not make you smile, then you are possibly beyond redemption.
“Dirt,” Florida Georgia Line
I love to hate FGL. With few exceptions, they are terrible. They are among the worst of the bro-country offenders. But when “Dirt” was released, everyone had to admit that it was a rather good song, no matter how painful it was to admit. Even the proprietor of SavingCountryMusic.com gave the song a “two guns up” review, and that is saying something. How can you not love a song about dirt? It reached #1 on both the Hot Country and Country Airplay charts, and for months I could scarcely get in my car without hearing it on one of our stations in Charlotte. Nigel Dick did a great job with the video.
Bleachers debuted this year with Strange Desire. My comments for Walk the Moon can equally apply to Bleachers. I am happy to say that they received the disapproval of webzine, Consequence of Sound: “all ‘80s schmaltz and all catharsis.” Oh, geeze, catharsis. How awful! As if hipsters could not be more insufferable, they use words like “catharsis” like it’s a bad thing. Please, my friends, enjoy the enjoyment of joy. This is a very fine song and a very fun video.
“If You Ask Me To,” MacKenzie Porter
If we must have pop-country, then MacKenzie Porter is what we need. She is from Canada, but I wish she were from Dixie — for the simple reason that she would get more exposure, which she wholly deserves. Come down South, MacKenzie! Her debut album was released this year, but her first single, “I Wish I’d Known,” was released two years ago. It is included in the album, along with “If You Ask Me To.” This is a simple, delightful song. It doesn’t hurt that she’s gorgeous.
“Try Harder Than That,” Meghan Linsey
Also charming and beautiful, Meghan Linsey has co-written a fun diatribe against the bro-country movement, and the video is equally fun. But unlike Maddie & Tae’s huge hit, “Girl in a Country Song,” Meghan has not been able to capitalize as successfully on the bro-country backlash. That’s unfortunate. She is trying to break into the Nashville scene, which is nearly impossible nowadays for a female artist. She included the hick-hop rapper, Bubba Sparxxx, in this song. I normally despise hick-hop, but it works fairly well here.
“Texas,” Tami Neilson
Do we have enough songs about Texas? No. Silly question. Tami Neilson is another songstress who resides in the wrong country. She is from Middle Earth…more commonly known as New Zealand. This is a tragedy. She is better than 98% of Nashville, and her album, Dynamite!, is nearly impossible to find over here. Thankfully, you can stream it on Spotify. In addition to writing fabulous songs, she also has some great videos on YouTube. They are well worth your time. Her video for “Texas” is my favorite, and it includes a bonus performance of “Cry Over You.” She captures everything that is special about 1950’s country music.
“Drunk on a Plane,” Dierks Bentley
Dierks is one of the best mainstream country artists to emerge in the last decade. He has proven his chops over and over. His seventh album, Riser, is his best. It produced two #1 songs for Country Airplay: this song and “I Hold On.” While “Drunk on a Plane” is certainly a fun and not-to-be-taken-too-seriously song, it is also a legitimately clever song. It includes an actual narrative and humor. Rolling Stone rightly included it among their “10 Signs” that bro-country is declining. The video itself was honored with a prestigious CMA award for best music video.
So, there are seven videos above: five country and two alt-rock-pop. Not diverse enough?
In my defense, I also listen to Bach and Telemann.