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Top 10 Most Visually Poetic Music Videos

VO: JP
Script written by Owen Maxwell These are the most visually poetic music videos! For this list we're looking at music videos that gave their sights that extra sense of magic to match their songs. We're basing our picks on a mix of emotional impact, artistic vision and how creatively each video tells a story. We’ve included White Winter Hymnal by the Fleet Foxes, Praying by Kesha, Formation by Beyonce, Elastic Heart by Sia, ELEMENT by Kendrick Lamar, Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey, Runaway from Kanya feat. Pusha T, and Lazarus by David Bowie.
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Top 10 Most Visually Poetic Music Videos

Visuals always speak louder than words. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Visually Poetic Music Videos.
For this list we're looking at music videos that gave their sights that extra sense of magic to match their songs. We're basing our picks on a mix of emotional impact, artistic vision and how creatively each video tells a story.

#10: "White Winter Hymnal" (2008)
Fleet Foxes

Watching time flow backwards, Fleet Foxes made “White Winter Hymnal” into something even more beautiful. Through detailed claymation, the video shows the band members as old men surrounded by a desolate forest. As the song picks up however, they reverse time by turning a gear and slowly grow younger. Thanks to elaborate animation of the blooming nature, there's a serene beauty to watching the seasons change through the video. The little clay men even play along to the song, as little woodland creatures move around them. Watching it all roll forwards again, the unique perspective shows how we all slow down with age.

#9: "Praying" (2017)
Kesha

Raising from the dead, Kesha sums up her career with visual gravitas. As she navigates a desolate wasteland, she passes the remnants of her old life. Showcasing her story through more metaphorical imagery, the video gives her return an inspiring touch. Kesha elevates her own revival through religious symbols, even walking on water as the video ends. Along with the lyrical themes about healing, Kesha even admitted the music video was a source of therapy in itself. Thanks to the clever direction of Jonas Akerlund, the themes flowed as beautifully as his work with Madonna and Lady Gaga.

#8: "Formation" (2016)
Beyoncé


Given the visual insanity of 'Lemonade,' bringing in a mastermind like Melina Matsouka was only going to up the ante. Mirroring Beyoncé's lyrical depiction of the black experience, the video contrasts prosperity with extreme poverty. Highlighting the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Beyoncé sits on top of a submerged police car, slowly drowning. Crafted to empower women and the black community, the video's abstract depictions of strength are instantly memorable. Despite the suffering, the spirit to fight remains strong, and is demonstrated through intense dancing. The video's ending is just as haunting, as a boy dances in front of a row of surrendering policemen.

#7: "We Found Love" (2011)
Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris


Another Melina Matsouka masterpiece, this video subtly slides from beautiful to ugly. As we're slowly pulled into the story of a turbulent romance, Rihanna's love song starts on a montage of highlights and low points. Pills start to fly in the chorus however, as the visuals take a demented twist. Symbolizing the couple's drug use through clouds and shots of eyes, their relationship is revealed to be a dangerous one. After fire and crumbling buildings cascade behind Rihanna, we even see the abusive side to their relationship. Subtly deconstructing dangerous love through different versions of memories, the video is appropriately sobering.

#6: "Elastic Heart" (2015)
Sia

Illustrating Sia's inner turmoil as an artist isn't something that can be done easily. Shia LaBeouf and Sia's dance mascot Maddie Ziegler delicately play out different sides of Sia's personality. Fighting, working together and acting out, it's easy to see their similarities and differences. Delivered powerfully by the two performers, the video is an emotionally devastating look into Sia's psyche. The video initially received criticism for its inherent resemblances to pedophilia, especially given the skin-toned suits of the dancers. The strong reactions and artistic vision, however, have helped the video climb to over 800 million views.

#6: "Hurt" (2002)
Johnny Cash

When Johnny Cash planned to cover an old Nine Inch Nails single, even Trent Reznor was skeptical. Enlisting Nine Inch Nails collaborator Mark Romanek to direct the video, the juxtaposition of the ragged Cash and old footage brought even Reznor to tears. Filming around Cash's home of 30 years, the video serves as a tearful look back on the life of a legend. Romanek even used shots of the rundown House of Cash as an allusion to The Man In Black's fading health. As Cash pours out wine, the shots of Jesus getting nails in his hands also ties in Cash's Christian faith.

#4: "Summertime Sadness" (2012)
Lana Del Rey


After a relationship comes to a bitter end, two former lovers realize they're helpless to go on living alone. Chronicling the lovers' suicides, the video follows their final moments as they reflect on what they've lost. Standing on ledges, both women see their happiest memories slip away. Alluding to their drifting apart through the hazy editing, the video slowly shows how broken they've become. Clinging to religion to rejoin her lover, Lana Del Rey even mimics a statue of Christ as she jumps to her death. Her other half is portrayed powerfully by Jaime King, whose husband Kyle Newman directed the video.

#3: "ELEMENT." (2017)
Kendrick Lamar

Exploring violence in his life and community, Kendrick Lamar connects snapshots to tell a darker story. Rotating through various bloody scenes, the video also shows how people are driven towards fighting. As the episodes play in disorientating order, Lamar reveals the cycle of violence he's watched and been a part of in his life. Director Jonas Lindstroem references many scenes from his own film 'Truth Or Dare' to fit Kendrick's narrative. Using deeply intimate shots seemingly filmed by bystanders, the video sheds an unbiased eye on our own brutality. Lamar's homage to photographer Gordon Parks also shows us a world we might ignore otherwise.

#2: "Lazarus" (2015)
David Bowie


Even as he was slowly dying, David Bowie made a final send-off. Despite keeping his ailment a secret to the end, he visualizes his cancer menacingly under his bed. While the video shows his deteriorating health, it also reveals his resilience to stay creative in the face of death. Although the video was conceived to reference the biblical Lazarus, it's meaning after Bowie's death is too hard to ignore. He even wears his striped outfit from 'Station to Station', hinting at his spiritual ties to Kabbalah. Bowie learned his illness was terminal while filming the video, eerily releasing it mere days before he passed.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions:

"Somebody That I Used To Know" (2011)
Gotye feat. Kimbra

"Hello" (2015)
Adele

"The Suburbs" (2010)
Arcade Fire

#1: "Runaway" (2010)
Kanye West feat. Pusha T

Kanye West's music is intricate art, and his 30 minute epic summary of 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' certainly warrants interpretation. Inspired by films like 'Purple Rain' and 'The Wall,' Kanye directs and stars in an abstract autobiography. Kanye desperately tries to help a phoenix woman adjust to life on earth, while his posh friends insult her. The video celebrates the beauty of simple art, while one quiet minute trivializes the complexity of the high-class. West culminates his critique in a sublime dance scene, showing all the dirt hidden under superficial elegance. Epic in length, the video enhances the music and Kanye's story without being obvious.
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