Updated: Nov 16, 2022
There’s no doubt that music, specifically our favorite songs, makes us feel a certain type of way. And to add to this feeling, music videos deliver that extra component. Music videos have been the visual accompaniment to reinforce an artist’s feelings, whether that’s through Lady Gaga’s theatrics or Bruno Mars’ dance moves, and everywhere in between. Take a walk down memory lane to reminisce on the most iconic music videos of the decade.
2010 - Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) by Shakira
Kicking off the list we have “Waka Waka”, featuring the band Freshlyground, dubbing it as the official song of the 2010 World Cup. However, this song did spark some controversy due to FIFA’s selection of Shakira rather than assigning a native artist to sing the song. But when focusing on the music video specifically, you can’t help but notice the impact and the passion put into it. This video screams serotonin with numerous dancers and children playing together, traveling the world, and ending in Africa.
Watch the Waka Waka official music video.
2011 - Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
This acoustic and laid back track is quintessential to Mars’ early sound in his debut album, Doo-Woops and Hooligans. Mars didn’t like the initial music video his label made, so they gave him a “couple thousand dollars” to make a new one that represented his vision better. The artist ended up buying monkey masks and shot the video with the Poreotics in two days. However, this ad hoc music video currently has over 2 billion views on YouTube. Are you one of those views?
Watch the Lazy Song official music video.
2012 - Gangnam Style by PSY
The pioneer for kpop’s viral popularity in music and dance, Gangam Style broke the 2012 Guinness World Record for most “liked” video on YouTube as well as the highest viewed video on YouTube at the time. This video even reached a billion views in its first year due to its viral dance moves and crazy location switches. It’s safe to say that “Gangnam Style” was the first majorly successful export of korean culture which paved the way for groups like BTS in the following years. Do we see Gangnam Style making a comeback via TikTok anytime soon?
Watch the Gangnam Style official music video.
2013 - Roar by Katy Perry
“Roar'' became Katy’s third RIAA Diamond Song Award by the end of 2013, the others being “Firework” and “Dark Horse”. Roar’s video is a visual representation of Perry ditching a toxic ex and thriving on her own in the unfamiliar environment of independence. This queen of the jungle, self empowerment music video took the world by storm and is the first female-centered video to reach 3 billion views.
Watch the Roar official music video.
2014 - Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
If there is an artist that we would have to double dip into, it would be Bruno Mars. “Uptown Funk” surpasses Mark Ronson’s other collaborations like Electricity ft. Dua Lipa and Valerie ft. Amy Winehouse with 4.2 billion views on YouTube. The song tapped into the musical hodgepodge of Minneappolis sound, a subdivision of funk that pulled inspiration from rock, new wave, and R&B. This also got Ronson and Mars in some lawsuits for allegedly “biting” the music of groups like Collage and The Gap Band. Stolen or not, “Uptown Funk” catchiness still makes it a timeless classic.
Watch the Uptown Funk official music video.
2015 - See You Again by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
“See You Again” was commissioned for the soundtrack of the 7th movie in the “Fast and Furious” saga to pay tribute to actor Paul Walker, who passed away in a car accident the year before. This track was also one of Charlie Puth’s first claims to fame as a singer and producer, and was later nominated for a 2015 Grammy for Song of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group performance, and Best Song Written for Visual Media.
Watch the See You Again official music video.
2016 - Baby Shark by Pinkfong
“Baby Shark” first originated as a children’s campfire song that was potentially created by camp counselors who were inspired by the movie, Jaws. It gained worldwide popularity after South Korean entertainment company, Pinkfong, released their own rendition on YouTube. The song sparked an online dance craze on TV, YouTube, and TikTok. Although mostly popular for young children, we can all respect the rapid growth and viral popularity of this simple kids song.
Watch the Baby Shark official music video.
2017 - Despacito by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee
This reggaeton, latin pop hit by Puerto Rican duo Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee helped popularize Latin pop in the mainstream music market again. “Despacito” was also the first Latin song to be honored with a RIAA Diamond Award and was the first music video to reach seven billion views. Shot in the La Perla neighborhood of Old San Juan, this music video highlights the main historical and cultural symbols of Puerto Rico.
Watch the Despacito official music video.
2018 - Te Bote (Remix) by Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, Ozuna
The music scene was still riding the Latin wave well into 2018 with a remixed version of “Te Boté”, originally created by Casper Magico, Nio Garcia, and Darell. The sensual reggaeton track also pulled inspiration from Jamaican Dancehall music. “Te Boté” was popular offline in the clubs as it was online, and its seven minute long music video has well over 2 billion views.
Watch the Te Bote official music video.
2019 - Con Altura by ROSALÍA, J Balvin ft. El Guincho
The latest in Latin musical sensations is Spain native, Rosalía in collaboration with J Balvin and El Guincho. The song is a tribute to the Spanish singer’s love for traditional reggaeton with additions of modern flamenco. The “Con Altura” music video gained 500 million views within a week and became the most-viewed music video by a female artist of 2019.
Watch the Con Altura official music video.
2020 - Life Is Good by Future ft. Drake
In January of 2020, Future dropped the third single of his album High Off Life, featuring Canadian rapper Drake. It debuted at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became the rapper’s highest-charting song. The music video depicts the two artists working various blue collar jobs, showing that despite their own success, money and fame don’t equal happiness.
Watch the Life Is Good official music video.
Within just the past decade we’ve been able to witness the evolution of music not only as an artistic phenomenon, but also a digital one. After “Gangnam Style” broke the billion view record, it became a benchmark for every music video that came after. The days of megastars are over, like the Beatles or Michael Jackson. We have entered into the age where “the best music video of all time” can vary from every fragmented music group. What’s your favorite music video of all time?