Best Music Videos of 2021

Story posted September 13, 2021 in

2021 has brought a flurry of fantastic music. However, in terms of videos, only a few can reign supreme. In this listicle, the Arts and Entertainment Department dive into some of the best music videos released in 2021 so far.

"MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" - Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X has been the ruler of social media this year. From being homeless just two years ago to now having a platform with millions of streamers and followers, he has become an international star.

He managed to break the internet in March with his music video, “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” which has now accumulated over 340+ million views. The single for his upcoming debut album features a surreal video that alludes to biblical and historical references that only Nas could direct himself.

He plays every character himself, which is hilarious. He is Lil Nas X, a snake, various gods and goddesses, and even Satan. When Nas descends from the heavens practically naked on a stripper pole, it broke the internet for weeks generating countless memes. Between the pole, and him giving Satan a lap dance, it is hard to say what is more jaw-dropping.

In the last clip, Nas kills Satan and takes his horns. Nas took the themes of his video to the real world. When he sold his controversial “Satan Shoes” with human blood in them, he made his fantasy a reality.

The entire experience is mesmerizing with incredible special effects, makeup, and visuals that will have fans watching on repeat. MONTERO is one of the best songs of the year, and it is arguably the best music video of the year as well. - Caelan Chevrier

“Kiss Me More” - Doja Cat ft. SZA

Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” music video is undoubtedly one of the most colorful and sensual music videos of 2021.

Doja takes viewers to a planet called "Her" where Doja and SZA act as pleasure-seeking aliens capturing off-course travelers in a video game.

Alex Landi, the Asian male love interest, stars as a stranded astronaut who takes a boat and sails through the planet. After reaching the end of his journey, he bites into a hallucinogenic fruit and wakes up in a capsule, and Doja and SZA continue luring other men to their pile of winnings.

The media typically ignores the desirability of Asian men and the soft, feminine nature of black women however Doja highlights these aspects throughout the video. She uses vibrant pink and purple colors as well as chiffon and silk fabrics to create alluring scenes.

The focus on Landi as an attractive character is developed through the lyrics and the goals that the women have of captivating him. The video is visually, metaphorically, and artistically appealing. It is a must-watch for those who appreciate forward-thinking pieces. – Erell Williams 

“Rumors” - Lizzo (Featuring Cardi B)

After three years of not releasing music, it is no surprise pop sensation Lizzo would come back with a bang. Not only is “Rumors” a fun record but is a later addition to being one of the best music videos of the year.

Lizzos’ video is heavily influenced by Greek mythology with Lizzo, background dancers and a pregnant Cardi B dressed as Greek goddesses. There are Greek vases that animate many of the lyrics the pop star sings along with other ancient Greek references throughout the video.

Many shots of the music video are seemingly a direct homage to Disney’s “Hercules”, portraying Lizzo and her dancers as the muses. With talks of an upcoming live-action remake of the animated film, this performance feels like an unofficial audition for the pop star.

This video is extremely empowering and despite the fatphobic criticism this artist continues to get it is evident that Lizzo will continue to prevail with poise and style. - Sophia D’Ovidio

“Good 4 u” - Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo has had a breakout year. Her first album “Sour” was a smash hit and her third single, “Good 4 u” was incredibly well-received. The song is inspired by the pop-punk songs of the 2000s and had a spectacular video that perfectly fits that 2000s vibe.

The set and costume design for this video is spectacular. Rodrigo’s cheerleading outfit and awesome latex gloves fit the 2000s era and the video also references a ton of classic high school films. The teen angst is present throughout the video and it is done humorously and effectively.

The video is shot beautifully. From the first shot of Rodrigo’s eye to the final shot of her going into the water. The visuals are crisp and very cinematic. The scene with her in the burning room is exquisite, especially since it's contrasted to her in the water.

The video perfectly embodies the teen angst presented in the song. You can tell Rodrigo is having a blast throughout with all of her exaggerated mannerisms and kooky dance moves. This video is timeless and truly exemplifies Rodrigo’s star power. – Jack Freiser

Caelan Chevrier is a second-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email cjc6789@psu.edu.

Erell Williams is a first-year majoring in broadcasting journalism. To contact her email exw5303@psu.edu

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu

Jack Freiser is a second-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jef5614@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

Caelan Chevrier's photo

Caelan Chevrier

Second Year / Journalism

Caelan Chevrier is a second-year student in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University studying broadcast journalism and marketing with the goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in four years. His plan is to get involved in numerous media-related clubs during his stay. His career goal is to spread informative, meaningful and entertaining content across various platforms and to be a positive impact on the community. He has also spent time working at The Westport Local Press in his hometown of Westport, CT. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Jack Freiser's photo

Jack Freiser

Freshman / Telecommunications

Jack Freiser is a caring and creative people-person who loves music and film. He aspires to impact the music business as a successful A+R by signing artists who will be culturally relevant and will leave an impact on the world, and through keeping a strong relationship with the artist and their team. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).