There was a time — like two years ago — when an artist could simply shoot a music video for his or her new single, maybe premiere it somewhere nice, then move on with things. Of course, as we all know by now, thanks to the proliferation of, well, pretty much everything, that strategy will no longer suffice, which is how we’ve ended up living in the era of the “lyric video.”
Of course, these things are nothing new — one could argue that, whether he intended to or not, Bob Dylan invented the “lyric video” in 1967, with the release of his “Subterranean Homesick Blues” clip, and, since then, we’ve gotten videos like George Michael’s “Praying For Time” and Van Halen’s “Right Now” (which isn’t a traditional lyric vid, but is awesome nonetheless) — but in recent years, artists big and small have latched onto the trend, to the point where we’ve come to expect lyric videos for just about everything.
The most recent example is Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” lyric vid, which premiered on MTV Thursday morning (January 24) and is quite possible the lyric video to end all lyric videos: shot in classy black and white, featuring Timberlake getting his Sinatra on, it not only matches the song’s sharp, sartorial sonics, but has us waiting with baited breath for the actual video … which, really, is what any great lyric clip should do (though, to be honest, this one is so good that perhaps we don’t need another video).
So, in celebration of JT’s return to the video world — text-based or otherwise — we’ve compiled a list of of our other favorite lyric videos from recent years. All are official, of course, because if you’re going to memorize a song’s lyrics, you might as well go straight to the source. Watch (and read) along with us, and welcome to the future.
My Chemical Romance, “Na Na Na”: Candy-colored and chaotic like the song itself, MCR’s lyric clip for the first single off their Danger Days album pulls no punches, throttling along at a breakneck pace, assaulting our senses with shots of laser guns, neon hearts and one climactic explosion. Somehow, they even managed to match frontman Gerard Way’s machinegun delivery and the song’s cascading guitar solos too. Good thing we took our seizure medication beforehand.
Katy Perry, “Wide Awake”: Katy’s made no shortage of great lyric vids over the years (“Part of Me,” in particular), but here, she teams with Facebook, using their timeline feature to recount her triumphant Teenage Dream ride. The end result is both visually arresting and genuinely touching too … we’re not gonna lie, we got a little misty-eyed looking back on Katy’s climb.
David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj, “Turn Me On”: Taking its cues from Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E” video, it super-charges Minaj’s lyrics and matches the balls-to-the-wall whomp of Guetta’s track. It’s a dizzying ride, one powered by bright colors and text that practically dances off the turntable. If there was one lyric video that the cast of the “Jersey Shore” definitely watched before hitting the clubs, this was probably it.
Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”: With its hand-made lettering, cutesy font manipulation and reams of pages torn straight from your dream journal, it’s basically Etsy brought to life (all that’s missing is a bird sewn onto something), which is to say it’s perfect for both Taylor and the song’s sentiments. Shoot, it’s entirely possible Swift made this one herself … she seems like the scrap-booking type.
Ke$ha, “C’Mon”: It features kittens, bunny rabbits, puppies, baby penguins and flying unicorns. What else do you need to know?
What’s your favorite lyric video? Let us know in the comments below!