spotlight: the top 10 dance-based music videos of 2013

top 10 collage22013 has been a different year for music, but the dependency on the music video has grown. Much like Beyoncé’s recent example of concurrently releasing music videos alongside her newest album tracks, the music video remains one of the few ways an artist can guarantee a response to the release of a single. Though not as prevalent as in recent years, dance is still the keystone of lots of pop music’s visual rep. Many of this year’s releases focused on introspection, leading to a lot of midtempos and sonic experimentation with artists like Lorde, Ed Sheeran, and Imagine Dragons leading the way. Uptempos from Robin Thicke, Daft Punk, and Britney Spears kept us all moving, but it took me a while to compile a list of 10 worthy videos to present. I don’t know what to expect as we head into 2014 as I’m still reeling from the surprise release of Beyoncé, but something tells me she’s started a trend we’ll see many other try to top. On to the countdown!

Similar to last year, I’ll only be highlighting some of the full videos here. Click the link to watch them in their entirety!

#10. Robin Thicke ft. 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar , “Give It 2 U” – Three things. 1) J-setting FOR THE WIN. Those Alabama Stingettes and Albany Passionettes and their virgin Remy 18″ hitch kickin’ and front rollin. 2) Luxury girls with their huge Texas-sized hair posing with sushi, caviar, & champagne. 3) the piece-de-resistance “ass float” complete with twerkers in shoulder pads. This video is pure camp! Just ratchetography and silliness, but that’s most of the reason I like it. J-sett and you’re making my top 10!

#9. Sharaya J, “Banji” (hit the pic for the vid!)
banji screen

New to the countdown this year is “Banji”, a banger by newcomer Sharaya J. A protege of Missy Elliott, this video hit YT and she blew UPPPPP!!! The song title is an acronym of her platform meaning Be Authentic Never Jeopardize Individuality, the blue-haired rapstress spits lines “I’m major, get into this/Look at my face it’s just ovah-ness/Up in the booth is where I sit/ tell at them haters pull up and sit.” On top of this hot fiyah, Sharaya’s a MEAN dancer. With choreography from the incomparable Tricia Miranda, she hits the choreo harder than the dancers sometimes, which is never a bad thing. I posted just a few weeks ago about a collaboration with her and Jonte’ Moaning for LA’s Carnival Choreographers Ball. It was like…everything. Pure everything. Do I need to say more?

#8. AFTERSCHOOL, “Heaven” – New to this year’s list is K-pop girl group AFTERSCHOOL. Disco influences were big this year in K-pop and this sonic slice is really fun. Featuring some waacking and an extra special intro with the girls pole dancing (!!!), this video was a shoo-in for inclusion. I’m always so impressed with the shapes and lines these girl groups pull; they must have some serious coaching to make all this look easy in heels, because I know it’s difficult. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!

#7. Perfume, “Sweet Refrain”

So, in what’s sure to be a controversial pick, my next choice is J-pop group Perfume’s “Sweet Refrain.” If you’re not familiar with them, Perfume is an electropop trio of women who have taken Japan (and most of the world) by storm with their innovative choreo and theatrical stage shows rife with cutting-edge technology. The’re my fave because the choreography is in constant canon. Constant. And we know that canon makes everything spectacular.

#6. Britney, “Work B*tch” – You already knew Brit Brit was ‘gon be on the list, don’t act like you didn’t. Read about it here: spotlight: britney’s “work b*tch”

#5. Sharaya J, “Smash Up The Place/Snatch Yo Wigs”

No, this is not a repeat. Sharaya J video #2. It’s just as good as “Banji” and has just as much dancing and it’s just as good! Look at that stairway combo – EVERYTHING! The real kicker in this is the snippet of “Snatch Yo Wigs” toward the end. That “Poison” sample is so major and the whisper flow on the track gives it that extra heat. Sharaya J is gonna be the one to watch in 2014…let the slayage begin!

#4. Girls’ Generation (SNSD), “I Got A Boy”

GG is new on the countdown this year, though I’ve been a big fan for  a while. I passed them over last year despite some really strong offerings from them, but this year I’m happy to add them to the list. One of the most popular girl groups in Korea, SNSD can cut a rug with the best of them. I particularly love “I Got A Boy” for its irregular song structure and genre-crossing appeal, but the real gem is the visual for the song. Featuring retro, hip hop, and trendy styling, along with choreography by dance heavyweights NAPPYTABS (Tabitha & Napoleon D’Umo), the girls sing about the different stages of relationships the way only girls can.

#3. Madonna, “Vogue” Though not a new release by any means (the original debuted in 1990), this classic was performed with new choreography from her Superbowl 2012 show  as well as some chic new movement material. Always fashion forward, Madonna laced her dancers in some avant-garde garments and reimagined her iconic Jean-Paul Gautier bodice from her Blonde Ambition days to make this video a memorable one.

#2. SHINee, “Everybody” (full video in title, dance version featured below)

I featured the awesome guys from K-pop group SHINee last year in a spotlight post as they blew me away with the dancing on their single “Sherlock” and this year they did it again! This time, it’s their toy soldier/military inspired EDM track “Everybody.” For the second time, I’m impressed with their movement from Tony Testa (who also lent movement for “Sherlock”) and their emphasis on group pictures that tell a story and come full circle by the end of the song. These guys work HARD on this choreo – it’s not easy by any means and they make the style look effortless. I know it’s the work of the pop “machine”, but my god it works and pull me in everytime! SHINee fighting! 

#1. TaeYang, “Ringa Linga” (hit the pic for the choreography video!)
ringa linga
Yes, it’s true. For the second time, a non-American artist tops the list. As a matter of fact, it’s my Korean husband TaeYang of the guy group Big Bang. Young-bae (his given name) returned this year with a solo release and its first single was “Ringa Linga”, a hip hop & EDM laced track written by his bandmate G-Dragon. The above clip is the dance performance version, click the title for the official video. The choreography, created by killer New Zealander Parris Goebel, and her swag always kills me with her aggressive choreo. TaeYang brought in a who’s who of American dancers to make appearances throughout this performance and it once again cements that many Asian artists are coming for their American counterparts with larger, more conceptual visuals while equalling (or even surpassing) their movement ability. Heed my words, if our postars don’t step their game up, artists like TaeYang, BoA, & Daichi Miura and groups like SHINee and Girls’ Generation will continue to gain larger followings outside of their home countries and possibly even eclipse their Western contemporaries. YB is pulling no punches with his choreo and dance performance and for that reason (as well as a few others 😉 ) “Ringa Linga” is the best dance-based music video of 2013!

For the first time, I have an Honorable Mention, two actually. These songs were close in the running, but didn’t make the countdown. Hit the title for the videos:

So whaddya think? Agree? Disagree? Post your opinions below? And don’t forget you can post links to anyone you think I missed…but you better give a good reason it should be there!

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