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“Bad Blood,” Taylor Swift
There’s star-studded, and then there’s this. Taylor Swift’s savvy remix flipped a song best known for the feud that supposedly inspired it into a flashy, superhero-like celebration of female friendship. And while Adele may have topped her 24-hour Vevo record a few months later, the video’s prolonged rollout and primetime premiere made it a true, shared music event. (Plus: this video’s VMA nomination laid the groundwork for this this standout pop-culture moment of 2015.) Directed by Joseph Kahn.
“Bitch Better Have My Money,” Rihanna
The singer sparked a lot of feminist outrage and, later, outrage about feminist outrage with a revenge fantasy as violent and nudity-filled as a Game of Thrones episode. As you watch her take down a crooked accountant (played by Mads Mikkelsen, but reportedly inspired by a real one who did her wrong), you’ll almost forget about the wait for Anti. Directed by Rihanna and Megaforce.
“Hotline Bling,” Drake
“WTF (Where They From),” Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell Williams
Her few and far between solo releases aren’t the only reason to miss the rapper—her music videos have always been supa dupa fly, too. With marionettes, hoverboards and an outfit that turns Elliott into a human disco-ball, the latest addition to her distinguished videography is no exception. Directed by Dave Meyers and Missy Elliott.
“Famous,” Charli XCX
“Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream,” Grimes
This double video from Grimes’ long-awaited Art Angels arrived just a few days before Halloween. But had her fans been given a little more warning, you would’ve seen a lot more replicas of Grimes’ bloody cross between Marie Antoinette and Effie from The Hunger Games. (Hey, there’s always next year.) Directed by Grimes.
M.I.A. making art inspired by the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis has done what M.I.A. releases typically do: polarize. Yet as the song’s “What’s up with that?” refrain suggests, the former refugee herself is happy just to provoke questions, even if she’s sometimes the target of them. Directed by M.I.A.
“Bitch I’m Madonna,” Madonna
“All Hands on Deck,” Tinashe
Nothing is certain but death, taxes and Tinashe videos. One of the most prolific pop stars in the game took her career to literal new heights—and lived out the fantasy of every kid who grew up near a shipping yard—with this Kanye West-approved video. Directed by Ben Mor.