The 25 greatest animated music videos

Animation in music videos has exploded in the last few years. Here's a selection of 25 of the best animated videos - plus a few that didn't quite make the cut!

The idea of a music video is to gain extra promotion; give it extra air time to a chosen demographic to increase the sales and generally increase awareness of an artist.

Throughout the 'MTV Generation', there were numerous animated videos being created but as technology became more accessible and the platform for showing media stretched from across numerous TV channels dedicated to music, then to internet, there has been an increased number of animated videos being created.

The list below has been compiled to show a broad range of animated videos to accompany music. Not all of them are strictly 'animation' (in the cartoon sense); some are motion graphics, 3D, lo-fi, hand-drawn... And they are in no particular order!

Words: Paul Cooper

01. The Killers - Miss Atomic Bomb

Director Warren Fu had previously worked with the band on their video for single 'Runaways,' and returned to take charge of this, their second single. Effortlessly fusing the two mediums of animation and stunning live action shots, this animated music video brings a heartbreaking love story to life.

Josh Goldstein worked as the producer, with Jeff Pantaleo as executive producer and Shawn Kim as director of photography. Titmouse Studio was responsible for the exceptional animation.

02. Tame Impala - Feels Like We Only Go Backwards

You could say that the inspiration for this animated music video lies somewhere inbetween Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer' and The White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army', and the amount of work that has clearly gone into this makes it a true work of art.

Directors Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling have a creative chemistry that always produces the best results, whether it's applied to set design, window displays, Christmas cards or TV idents. 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards' is an absolute delight.

03. Home and Dry - Ghosts Are Dancing

  • Released: 2012
  • Directed by: Maxime Causeret and Gilles Deschaud

This video for Parisian art-rock band Home and Dry is a personal project made mostly using Houdini. The dramatic effect was created by filming a motion capture of the band's lead singer Laure Laffererie's face with two cameras. The effect was then created in 2D using motion vector and 3D lighting.

04. Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing

  • Released: 2013
  • Directed by: Jessica Cope and Simon Cartright

Clearly inspired by the work of Russian animator Yuriy Norshteyn (best known for the incredible Tale of Tales) the intense atmosphere of this imaginative and thought provoking short brings the haunting story of the song to evocative life. The stark and simplistic animation style - based largely on the gentle movements of hand-cut paper models - fits the mood perfectly.

05. The Kleenrz - Sandman

Combining children's television-style cartoon characters with live action, this music video follows the Sandman working with his two helper Umbrella Girls and reveals what goes on inside the big bag he carries. The action cleverly synchronizes with lyrics by The Kleenrz, a collaboration by LA rappers Self Jupiter and Kenny.

The beauty of this approach is that it gets you to listen carefully to the lyrics. This is something which can be difficult to achieve with music videos as often the action distracts from the song itself.

06. Smashing Pumpkins - 'Tonight, Tonight'

This U.S. husband and wife duo have directed music videos for the likes of R.E.M. and Paula Abdul, and also went on to direct Little Miss Sunshine. They paid homage to silent film director Georges Méliès' 'A Trip to the Moon' for this animated video. To me, this is possibly one of the greatest music videos ever made.

07. Daft Punk - 'One More Time'

The 2003 anime film 'Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem', also directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi, would be a continuation of the stories told in Daft Punk videos 'One More Time', 'Aerodynamic', 'Digital Love', and 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger'.

08. Queens of the Stone Age - 'Go With The Flow'

Shynola are a four-piece collective who have worked with the likes of Beck, Radiohead, and Blur, along with producing animation sequences for The IT Crowd and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World.

09. The Cribs - 'Mirror Kissers'

UK music video directors Diamond Dogs have directed for the likes of The Hoosiers, Jack Peñate, and Maximo Park and have a very distinct style. The video for Mirror Kissers was shot on a plain white background, then around 2740 frames were printed, photocopied, and manipulated before being edited back together to produce this fascinating video.

This video works very well - it is stylistically spot on. It's not your typical music video as it's laced with blemishes and is rather ugly - all of which actually compliments the track it's supporting.

10. Gorillaz - 'El Mañana'

Pete Candeland boast a huge repertoire of well-known pieces - the BBC's 2008 and 2012 Olympic marketing campaign, the Beatles RockBand promos, plus numerous music videos for Gorillaz. You couldn't compile a list of animated music videos and not include Gorillaz, a band who were seemingly created for this format.

11. Los Campesinos! - 'We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives'/'You, Me, Dancing!'

American animator Monkmus has created an array of music videos for the likes of Badly Drawn Boy, Mogwai, and Death Cab for Cutie - this double effort for Los Campesinos! stood out the most for me as I love the contrasts and similarities between war and party. The naive style of the illustration is beautiful and reminds me of the tail end of the infamous Dumbo scene with the racing elephants.

12. MGMT - 'Time To Pretend'

American Director Ray Tintori has also directed music videos for The Cool Kids and The Killers. I love the lo-fi and slightly dystopian look of this video. It's unpolished and it's very raw around the edges but also has a very warm psychedelic quality.

13. Les Savy Fav - 'What Would Wolves Do'

Ryan Quincy who directed this piece is notabe for being involved in the animation direction/production for South Park. I love the style of this animation, with the more hand-drawn style to the characters and environment.

14. Kanye West - 'Heartless'

  • Released: 2008
  • Directed by: Hype Williams

World-famous American video director Hype Williams has produced videos for the likes of Jay-Z, N*E*R*D, and Beyoncé. This video mixes simple-looking rotoscoped characters and highly detailed backgrounds and environments.

15. REM - 'Man Sized Wreath'

Toronto based CRUSH inc. teamed up with REM to produce this very effective effort. CRUSH inc. have notably worked with IKEA, Budweiser, and Nintendo.

I'm really intrigued by the many different styles in this video - from low-fi techniques, to 3D modelling via pixelated video games graphics. Normally, this really wouldn't work well together... but strangely enough, here it really does!

Next page: Basement Jaxx, Air, The Shins, and more!