A lyric video has one purpose: to display a song’s lyrics. But recently, lyric videos have been going beyond their job description. It seems like when an artist is ready to release a new single, they shoot two music videos and just slap words over one of them.
Here are 9 lyric videos that are so much more than moving sentences (expect a lot of Katy Perry):
1. “Payphone” – Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa
Want to see Adam Levine as a cartoon? Look no further. A sketched-out Levine shows the singer’s six-pack through his shirt and even gives him giant biceps and deltoids. But the comic-book video doesn’t give him a girlfriend. The lyrics play out in speech bubbles, but the rest of the video plays out a full story worthy of official-music-video status.
2. “Suit & Tie” – Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z
JT kicked off the beginning of 2013 with a completely snazzy, black-and-white treatment for his music comeback, the first single off The 20/20 Experience. Yeah, there were lyrics on the screen, but we also saw Justin getting his Barney Stinson on and doing dapper things, like shaving in a barber shop, snapping his fingers in a Tom Ford suit vest, playing poker and sippin’ on cigar smoke.
3. “Slow Down” – Selena Gomez
Although Selena isn’t the main subject in this lyric video, we follow around another brunette, who goes out to party in an old Cadillac. Hands are thrown in the air, hair becomes windblown and dancers grind in heels. After watching some break-dancing, the girl pins her crush to the wall. They kiss.
4. “Roar” – Katy Perry
Katy P took us through a day in the life of a typical KatyCat, waking up and immediately grabbing her iPhone, where the lyrics to “Roar” were displayed with emojis in a group text. We follow the KatyCat while she’s on the toilet (TMI), at the breakfast table and on the treadmill — all from her POV. We see her in the studio and in the bath (blowing bubbles, of course). At the end, which is the cutest part, she lifts a fluffy Maine Coon cat above our head to give it some kisses.
5. “Unconditionally” – Katy Perry
Katy Perry was on a roll when it came to Prism lyric videos. After “Roar,” KP introduced us to her more emotional single. The lyric video featured two naked actors in black-and-white, lip-synching the words as they spilled out like wisps of smoke. The raw feeling and simplicity of it would’ve been great for a music video.
6. “Birthday” – Katy Perry
More recently, she came out with a more festive lyric video for “Birthday,” which included cake, confetti and candles. And we got to see Katy at the end, shrugging innocently at all the work she had put into planning a b-day bash.
7. “MMM Yeah” – Austin Mahone featuring Pitbull
Mahone put on his best blonde afro wig for the “MMM Yeah” lyric video and invited all his friends (including Midnight Red) to get on the dancefloor and boogie the night away. Although Pitbull wasn’t there to do his parts, Austin filled in, hamming it up for the camera. Lyric video? Mmm yeah, it’s hard to believe that’s all it is.
8. “Problem” – Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea
The lyric vid for “Problem” threw some serious shade on the two ladies. In a kaleidoscope of light, Ariana and Azalea performed the song for us and even ad-libbed with a few winks and hair twirls. Hey, they may look innocent, but if you follow along with the lyrics, you’ll see that’s not the case.
9. “Don’t Stop” – 5 Seconds Of Summer
Luke, Michael, Calum and Ashton turn into superheroes Mike-Ro-Wave, Dr. Fluke, CalPal and SmAsh in this comic-themed video. Watch them fight crime… oh yeah, and the lyrics are there too, if you care.