The 10 Most-Watched Music Videos of 2014
YouTube has released its year-end summary of the biggest videos from 2014, from the dog-dressed-as-a-spider prank to a video of the bending iPhone 6 to the clip of strangers sharing a first kiss to a supercut of what it’s like to be a woman walking alone in New York City. In addition to all those clips that got us talking, the site also released the top music videos that we watched the most this year. Whether it was because they were controversial, catchy, or sexy, these 10 music videos were the ones people just couldn’t stop watching, talking about, and sharing during 2014.
10. “Anaconda,” Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj’s first single from her new record, The Pinkprint, heavily samples Sir Mix-a-Lot’s ’90s hip-hop classic “Baby Got Back” and features some ridiculous imagery regarding her ample behind. The extremely sexy video was racy enough to be pretty controversial, and any video that gets people in a tizzy is guaranteed to get lots of hits. Some argued that her animalistic representation of black sexuality was demeaning while others said it was showcasing a powerfully sexual woman. Everyone wanted to watch her over-the-top video, which is essentially four-plus minutes of twerking on crack.
9. “All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor
Unknown pop singer Meghan Trainor had a surprise hit with her body-positivity song “All About That Bass,” which tells listeners to embrace their bodies how they are and to disregard the media’s obsession with thinness. The video and song’s message actually has a lot in common with Minaj’s “Anaconda,” just in a more family-friendly sort of way. The clip shows Trainor, who definitely isn’t fat but doesn’t have the typical pop-star body nor Minaj’s cartoonish proportions, rolling her eyes at Barbie dolls while dancing alongside dancers of various body types in a pastel-colored accepting wonderland.
8. “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has had the top-selling album of the year with her first straightforward pop record, 1989, and the first single, “Shake It Off,” produced one of the most-watched videos of 2014, as well. In the song Swift addresses some of the most common criticisms the celebrity-obsessed tabloid media have made about her, and the video sees her lightheartedly imitating a variety of dance styles, from ballet to modern to hip-hop. Swift’s fans cannot get enough of the singer. They’ve proven they love her enough to actually buy a record, an increasingly rare feat these days, and had 1989 come out earlier in the year, this video and the one for her next single, “Blank Space,” would probably both rank higher on this list. No matter; they’ll still rack up millions of views.
7. “Chandelier,” Sia
Reclusive pop songwriter Sia stepped into the limelight in her own right this summer after spending her career writing massive hits for stars like Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and Rihanna — kind of. Using a wig of her blonde bob as a sort of mask, Sia never showed her face and performed in various guises with her back to the audience. The wig functions as a stand-in for the singer and she puts it on others, including the young dancer Maddie Ziegler, who stars in the music video for “Chandelier,” to make them a replacement for herself. “Chandelier” is about Sia’s struggles with substance abuse, and the choreography in the video captures the frightening chaos and loss of control that come with addiction.
6. “Fancy,” Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
“Fancy” was the single that introduced the world to one of the most controversial figures in pop music in recent years. The song reigned at the top of the Billboard charts for most of the summer and was named the song of the summer by the publication, and the Australian female rapper has been inescapable ever since. The song’s video is a mini remake of the ’90s classic film Clueless, and Azalea has said she’s particularly inspired by that era. The retro video gets the ’90s outfits and high school setting spot on. A great first video was not enough to save Azalea from some very vocal critics, though, who say she’s mindlessly stealing from black culture and highly inauthentic.
5. “Wiggle,” Jason Derulo ft. Snoop Dogg
“Wiggle” was not R&B singer Jason Derulo’s top single of 2014 — “Talk Dirty” featuring 2 Chainz was — but it did provide one of the most-watched music videos of the year. The clip is pretty standard music video fare, with party scenes at a tropically located mansion and a pool and girls with large backsides twerking. Still, the video managed to get more than 400 million views, proving that tried-and-true music video material can still lead to success.
4. “La La La,” Shakira ft. Carlinhos Brown
“La La La” was Shakira’s song written for the World Cup festivities over the summer. Shakira is Colombian, not from Brazil, where the World Cup was held, but she is probably the best-known singer from South America in the world, and so she was a natural choice to represent the tournament. The video features people from various nationalities around the world dancing along with Shakira to the song, which conveniently features a language-less chorus. The video also benefited the charity World Food Programme and its School Meals initiative, which Shakira partnered with Activia to raise money for during the World Cup.
3. “I Can’t Remember to Forget You,” Shakira ft. Rihanna
It’s fairly obvious upon watching this video why it’s gotten more than 450 million views so far despite the fact that the song has gotten mixed reviews and is really jumping on the reggae-pop bandwagon along with titles like Bruno Mars’ Police-influenced “Locked Out of Heaven.” While the lyrics refer to a dangerous male lover who Shakira should really remember to leave alone, the video paints the romance as being between Shakira and guest vocalist Rihanna. Watching two of the most beautiful pop singers in the world embrace and writhe around a lavish Los Angeles mansion is pretty strong temptation for clicking on a YouTube video. Overall, the single provided a hit for the Colombian singer’s self-titled 10th studio album, her fourth in English, and made for a big year for Shakira.
2. “Bailando,” Enrique Iglesias ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente de Zona
Enrique Iglesias made a big comeback this year with his album Sex and Love, and this song featuring the Cuban artists Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona. Iglesias released Spanglish and Portuguese versions of “Bailando,” as well, but the Spanish-language version is the one that produced the second most-watched music video of the year, with over 600 million views. The song hit No. 1 on the iTunes charts in 50 different countries. The video was shot in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, features Dominican and Cuban dancers, and was praised for its choreography. “Bailando” is the Spanish word for “dancing.”
1. “Dark Horse,” Katy Perry ft. Juicy J
Katy Perry’s video for her huge hit single “Dark Horse” was the most-watched music video of 2014, with over 740 million views. The over-the-top clip is inspired by ancient Egypt and sees Perry playing the part of a Cleopatra-influenced character, if the ruler had favored a neon color palette and hip-hop aesthetics. Perry wanted the setting to reflect both ancient Egypt and Southern rap, giving a nod to Juicy J’s hometown of Memphis. The video looks like it cost about as much to make as a Hollywood blockbuster, but the amount of attention it’s gotten has warranted the time and expense that went into it. The success of “Dark Horse” is certainly one factor that played in to Perry landing the coveted gig of Super Bowl halftime performer in 2015.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS