Visions of sugar plums? Nah — how about feasting your eyes on visions of Beyonce and Jay Z going apes---, or the ladies of Little Mix going straight-up gangsta in the back of a police van?

While it’s tempting to spend the next few weeks playing Love, Actually on loop or tagging along with Charlie Brown to the forest of aluminum Christmas trees, we’d be remiss to forget that the pop world has been offering visuals that make It’s a Wonderful Life seem like a monotone snooze. With music videos like the trippy “Till It’s Over” by Anderson .Paak and “What Is Love?” by Twice, some of your favorite recording artists have put forth footage in 2018 with which even The Santa Clause can’t compete.

So no, don’t deny yourself tape of a crackling fire or Elf running wild in New York City, but remember that there’s plenty more to check out. Take a look at PopCrush’s favorite music videos of 2018 below, and tell us what you couldn’t stop watching this year.

  • 1

    "Loyal to Me," Nina Nesbitt

    Perhaps no music video this year better captures the duality of a woman’s resilience than Nina Nesbitt’s “Loyal to Me,” the Scottish musician’s tinkling ‘90s R&B-inspired kiss-off to cheatin’, lyin’, schemin’ boys everywhere. Inspired by ballet and awash in faded, muted pinks, nude tones and pastels, the Debbie Scanlan-directed visual proves the power of femininity, as well as the delicate dichotomy between vulnerability and toughness. As Nesbitt fiercely stomps around in dainty pointe shoes with her girlfriends, brushing away her heartache in the process, she makes a strong case for sisterhood and solidarity. “If he never calls when he says he will / If he always tells you to keep it chill / If you see him out with another girl / Baby, then you know he was never real,” she lists off her own set of rules. Chicks before… well, you know. (Erica Russell)

  • 2

    "thank u, next," Ariana Grande

    Arguably one of most anticipated and massive music video releases of the year (millions of record-breaking Vevo views don't lie), Ariana Grande bounced back from her shocking (was it though?) called-off engagement from Pete Davidson with the breakup anthem to end all breakup anthems... and an epic music video to match. Featuring star-studded cameos from everyone from Kris Jenner (in the role she was BORN to play) to Troye Sivan, the colorful clipped tapped into our collective nostalgia for our fave early 2000s rom-coms: Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, 13 Going on 30 and Bring It On. Like the beloved films it references, "thank u, next" will undoubtedly sit as one of pop's most memorable and ambitious visuals in years to come. (Erica Russell)

  • 3

    "APES---," The Carters

    Beyoncé and Jay-Z shooting the lead video off their surprise joint album Everything Is Love at the Louvre wasn’t just a flex. Jay and Bey (and a cast of dancers and extras) standing, performing and dancing among some of the world’s priceless, most famous works of art was an intentional alignment: Black modern artists (who are arguably two of the biggest names in the world), who make Black art, posed in front of classic European art like “The Mona Lisa” and “The Coronation of Napoleon”? The dichotomy is clear. Today, Black artists are the ones shifting culture and making art that defines it. “APES--T” represents that. (Mark Sundstrom)

  • 4

    "Whack World," Tierra Whack

    There’s not much conventional about breakout rapper-singer Tierra Whack or her Whack World album, a 2018 standout. Each of the 15 songs on the project are exactly one minute long, allowing listeners to fall into a vibe just long enough before it switches up, leaving us wanting more. Instead of picking one track for a music video, Tierra teamed up with directors Thibaut Duverneix and Mathieu Léger to craft a cohesive short film containing all 15 tracks, each with their own scene. The “Whack World” scenes couldn’t be more different in content, but visually, it’s a cohesive, cinematic work that’s hard to take your eyes off. (Mark Sundstrom)

  • 5

    "Woman Like Me," Little Mix

    It’s funny — the only criticism Little Mix seemed to encounter before winning the 2011 season of X Factor was that they may have been too sweet to hack it along music’s cutthroat frontlines. But, seven years and five albums later, they’ve mastered the role of fearless warriors, and not just because they’re dressed like them. “Woman Like Me,” the lead off of LM5, is defiant, resolute and figured out — and the visuals follow suit. Between scenes that find the ladies in the back of a police van, exacting choreography while balancing books on their heads and ruining a dignified tea party, Perrie, Jesy, Leigh Anne and Jade take tropes of era-spanning women in entertainment and turn them on their heads, challenging without concern: “Can you handle a woman like me?” These days, it’s unlikely. (Matt Donnelly)

  • 6

    "Til It's Over," Anderson .Paak

    Take director Spike Jonze, throw FKA twigs into a technicolor funhouse and you’ve got the trippy-but-pleasing video for “Til It’s Over, .Paak’s first release since Yes Lawd! with Knxwledge in 2016. The clip, which first finds twigs resigned to the dullness of a commuter’s late-afternoon subway ride, becomes something else entirely when she finally arrives home, fixes herself a drink and suddenly enjoys the powers of telekinetic dance. Each move twigs makes defies the laws of space and time, and by manipulating images like her flat’s patterned chair and collection of Polaroid pictures, she paints a dreamscape that’d rival Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole. And hey, the song’s really good too! (Matt Donnelly)

  • 7

    "What Is Love?," TWICE

    TWICE hold the ultimate movie marathon in the music video for their peppy comeback track “What Is Love?,” which draws inspiration from multiple iconic films, with the members portraying different characters. Nayeon gets a royal makeover as Princess Mia of The Princess Diaries, Dahyun puts headphones on Mina in a nod to La Boum, and Tzuyu and Jeongyeon peer at each other through an aquarium straight out of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Intermixed between each film is the song’s saccharine choreography, which the members perform in both everyday wear and elegant gowns. With over 224 million views and counting, “What Is Love?” is an amazing homage to classic film and how we all learn about love through watching movies. (Emlyn Travis)

  • 8

    "Jealousy," Monsta X

    Sometimes the perfect music video is one that highlights a group’s killer choreography. Monsta X’s “Jealousy” primarily takes place in an abandoned warehouse as the members effortlessly dance in perfect synchronicity to the track’s R&B and future pop melody. The song’s meaning centers on the feelings of anger and jealousy that stem from when other people interact with your crush. Its corresponding choreography directly plays off that theme; in one scene, Wonho holds onto Shownu’s shoulder and leers into the camera as he possessively asks, “Why are you talking about Shownu again?” Moments later, he and Hyungwon glare at each other before breaking into the chorus’ explosive choreography. “Jealousy” is a knockout music video that proves Monsta X is a group that cannot be overlooked. (Emlyn Travis)

  • 9

    "What I Need," Hayley Kiyoko feat. Kehlani

    #20GayTeen was a major movement in 2018, and it was all thanks to Hayley Kiyoko, who coined the term at the top of the year. That said, her collab with Kehlani, “What I Need," puts the spotlight on a story that many don’t get to tell. In the video, Kehlani plays a girl whose family doesn’t accept her sexuality, so she and Hayley run away in the hopes to make a better life together. While the storyline might feel familiar, hardly do we get the chance to see two young women in love play out on the screen, so Hayley’s video, which she directed, is powerful for those images alone. (Emily Tan)

  • 10

    "Youth," Shawn Mendes feat. Khalid

    With the release of his third album and his numerous sold-out shows, Shawn Mendes has had a great 2018. With that success, he wanted to use his platform to empower young people around the world, resulting in his team-up with Khalid, “Youth" — a sweeping pop track poised to inspire young people and encourage them to never stop moving forward and making a difference. The song’s video reinforces that message by showcasing some of today’s young artists, activists and trailblazers. The near-eight-minute video proves that the future can look brighter thanks to the next generation. (Emily Tan)

  • 11

    "Heart to Break," Kim Petras

    Kim Petras is a literal pop princess in her adorable video for "Heart to Break," a contagious, upbeat electro-pop bop. In the color-drenched clip, Kim plays a Disney-esque social media maiden trapped up high in a crystal tower, a prisoner of her own fragile heart. (Seriously, she's even bubble wrapped the entire palace.) Alongside her loyal animal (erm, insect) companion, the German bubblegum pop star dances the heartache away and finds her Prince Charming in the very end. (Erica Russell)

  • 12

    "Sanctify," Years & Years

    Take the fantasy of Star Wars, cross it with the sinister slickness of Kill Bill and add a dash of end-of-the-world wariness and you’ve got the the synthpop trio’s oddest and most arresting video to date. The first single off forthcoming album Palo Alto, “Sanctify”-the-video is as deliciously sinister as its audio inspiration, and finds frontman Olly Alexander — shackled by a 14-carat dog collar — dancing to spare his life. The HD futurescape spills over with the trappings of luxury and the starkness of scarcity alike, while Alexander moves with a striking animal instinct you haven’t seen since Beyonce’s “Déjà Vu.” (Matt Donnelly)

  • 13

    "Make Me Feel," Janelle Monae

    The ‘80s-centric, Prince-channelling visuals for one of Janelle’s best Dirty Computer offerings, "Make Me Feel" is a joyful embrace of bisexuality from an artist who has long struggled to claim her queerness in public — and one that makes for an unabashedly fun, color-saturated watch. (Also: Bisexual lighting galore!) (Dana Getz)

  • 14

    "God's Plan," Drake

    The budget for Drake’s “God’s Plan” music video was nearly $1 million. He chose to give it all away in a series of surprise donations around Miami, including paying for college scholarships and donating to women’s shelters and firehouses... And that’s pretty much the whole video directed by Karena Evans: Drake giving away cash and occasionally partying with students at the University of Miami. Sometimes an artist’s video makes a statement, sometimes it just does a whole lot of good. This one’s the latter, and it’s refreshing to see. (Bobby Olivier)

  • 15

    "Fake Love," BTS

    It’s safe to say BTS is the biggest music group in the world right now. When the superstar South Korean septet released the visuals for “Fake Love” in May, it helped solidify that notion. The emotionally charged, artful, metaphorical video amassed millions and millions of views in its first 24 hours, making it the biggest YouTube debut of 2018 and third biggest debut of all time. (Katrina Nattress)

  • 16

    "This Is America," Childish Gambino

    Since making the world fall in love with him on Community, Donald Glover has proven he’s so much more than a quirky nerd by evolving into one of the most heralded artists of recent years. From spearheading his own television show, Atlanta, to successfully crafting one of the best albums of 2016, Awaken, My Love, under his music moniker Childish Gambino, Glover has some big shoes to fill: his own. In May, the actor/writer/musician made his hosting debut on Saturday Night Live, where he performed as the musical guest. While the show aired, he uploaded a video for a new song, “This Is America,” that racked up millions of views within a matter of hours. The video, which juxtaposes the extreme racism and gun violence that plagues this country with the distractions fed to the general population on a daily basis, set the web ablaze. (Katrina Nattress)

  • 17

    "PYNK," Janelle Monae

    Janelle Monae delivers one of the most potent feminist messages of 2018 with her luscious video for "Pynk," a joyful celebration of black women in particular, femme-identifying people in general, and safe spaces for women everywhere. The empowering clip—which is bathed in all manner of pink hues and feminist manifestos, including a neon sign that reads "P---y Power"—finds the singer and her Dirty Computer-era muse and ally, Tessa Thompson, finding nirvana in a literal desert oasis. At the Pynk Rest-Inn, Janelle and her girl gang are able to express their femininity, their sexuality and their innate power freely and lovingly, while intoxicating visuals (including a now-famous pair of frilly couture "vagina pants") serve as an unforgettable ode to girlhood. (Erica Russell)

  • 18

    "Nice for What," Drake

    Olivia Wilde, Rashida Jones, Tracee Ellis-Ross, Tiffany Haddish and Letitia Wright all appear in Drake’s cameo-laden “Nice For What” video. Directed by Karena Evans, the visual would be a relatively standard and moody hip-hop spot, but by the end of the song you’re barely even looking for Drake as you wonder which random actress or otherwise non-musician is about to fill the screen. Someday this will be a killer trivia question: name all fifteen famous ladies who appear in “Nice For What.” (Bobby Olivier)

  • 19

    "My! My! My!," Troye Sivan

    Funnily enough, Sivan’s first black-and-white video is his most rainbow-painted proclamation of queerdom yet. The first project from forthcoming sophomore album Bloom, “My My My!" finds the Aussie act letting go of misgivings, doing away with apprehensions and rejecting shirts that button up all the way as he marches along power lines and inside empty warehouses with the conviction of an unlikely America’s Next Top Model finalist. Not since Britney’s “I’m a Slave 4 U” has a hybrid dancefloor/bathhouse yielded something quite so sexy — finally, Sivan has learned to let loose, and not a moment too soon. (Matt Donnelly)

  • 20

    "No Tears Left to Cry," Ariana Grande

    After a terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester, England claimed the lives of 22 fans and left hundreds more injured a year ago, the pop star took some much needed time off to reflect and regroup. Her first single after the gruesome incident was the introspective “No Tears Left to Cry,” accompanied by a beautiful, symbolic music video featuring impossible stairways, infinite landscapes and ethereal archways inspired by the artwork of M.C. Escher. Though the harrowing event will always be a part of the singer's narrative, these stunning visuals are only the first step in the healing process. (Katrina Nattress)

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