Even though 2020 has been so unusual/unprecedented/awful, a dizzying amount of great music was made and released in our fair city this year. And—surprise, surprise—a wealth of great music videos were released, as well. As we prepare to say goodbye to 2020 (finally, oh god, finally), join us as we take a look back on some of the funny, weird, creative, and downright impressive visuals set to music this year.

The Beat Index – “Dead Mall Soundtrack (Love Is Vacant)”
The Beat Index may have released a more visually arresting and intricately produced video this year (“Record Collection”), but there’s something so…2020 about a video that features almost nothing but depressing footage of a depressing dead mall. Yes, “Dead Mall Soundtrack (Love Is Vacant)” was shot in the Forest Mall in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; and yes, the mall has since been reduced to rubble. Like we said, 2020 in a nutshell. [Matt Wild]

Desi – “Stay Up”
Milwaukee singer Desi created her storybook-like video for “Stay Up” with critically acclaimed (and Milwaukee-raised) filmmaker Gabrielle Tesfaye. Says Desi: “I knew I wanted Gabrielle Tesfaye to make the visuals for this song because her art to me represents that deep knowing and the divine in Self. When I got to see what her interpretation was of my song, I realized there was so much more to what I could articulate. Seeing it visually through her was such a special gift. She showed me things about myself that were affirming.” [MW]

Devil Met Contention – “Wait”
This sleek, neon-drenched video for Devil Met Contention‘s “Wait” perfectly suits the band’s recent sleek, neon-drenched sound. Directed by Kristin Peterson, the clip takes its visual and narrative cues from artist Pawel Jaszczuk, who, in 2008, documented Japanese businessmen sleeping on the streets of Tokyo. Says DMC’s Ehson Rad: “In ‘Wait,’ our main character chooses, for unknown reasons, to go against social norms by publicly creating a ‘space of rest.’ Like the Japanese businessmen, that action becomes fascinating to the people on the street.” [MW]

Dramatic Lovers – “Slow Down”
Back in the early days of quarantine, Dramatic Lovers wasted little time setting a high bar for local music videos shot in isolation. Over the course of 48 hours, Dramatic Lovers shot the video for “Slow Down” on phone cameras, mixed and mastered it, and handled the editing as well. The final product finds the quintet playing “together” from five different spots and sounding better than ever. Sure, we’d love to see the band play live, but seeing the members safe at home with their families and watching bassist Andrew Menchal rocking out in his laundry room is a great substitute for the time being. [Tyler Maas]

Fuzzysurf “She Was Crying Sugar”
On top of being an excellent band, Fuzzysurf also puts out some ambitious and all-around awesome music videos. Just when you thought the indie rockers couldn’t possibly match their previous visual efforts that featured footage of puppets and other inventive concepts with top-notch production, the band decided to bring animation into the mix. The video for “She Was Crying Sugar” takes viewers on a stop-motion adventure to a candy-coated universe. During the video—which was expertly crafted by Tommy Simms and Joe Ludwig of Simwig Films—the sweet scenery takes a sour turn, as two suckers are forced to ward off an army of unruly gummy bears before squaring off against an evil Peep. [TM]

Holy Pinto “Milwaukee”
In the music video for “Milwaukee,” Canterbury, England native Aymen Saleh—who performs under the name Holy Pinto—professes his affinity for his new home. Shot by Sean McDowell, the local love letter shows Saleh walking the snowy streets of Bay View before taking in a morning match at Highbury Pub. Before video’s end, the singer-songwriter gets an ice skating tutorial from five-time Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair, eats a freshly fried cheese curd at Lakefront Brewery, celebrates with Roman Coin owner Teri Regano, and shares a tiki bowl with some friends at Foundation. “Milwaukee” will help you fall in love with the city all over again. [TM]

Hughes Family Band – “Death Of Me”
The live video for this rootin’, tootin’, honky tonkin’ Hughes Family Band single was shot at The Mothership back in January. It features a lot of things we missed this year: an all-star cast of Milwaukee musicians crushing it onstage (Connor LaMue! Johanna Rose! More!), an all-star cast of Milwaukee musicians crushing it in the crowd (Kelsey Kaufmann! Joey Turbo! More!), and that sign at The Mothership that says “DON’T DO DRUGS IN OUR BATHROOMS SEX IS OK.” [MW]

Kyle John Kenowski “TRUSTWORMY”
The animated video for Kyle John Kenowski‘s “TRUSTWORMY” is the product of more than two years and “well over 2,000 hours” of work Kenowski put into the project. Fortunately, the time and effort are absolutely worth it, as it makes a strong case for the most ambitious Milwaukee music videos in recent memory. Kenowski says the video is a play on the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Though he says he doesn’t subscribe to any traditional religion, he finds beauty in the story of creation. That beauty is on full display in this incredible visual masterpiece. [TM]

Lakeyah – “Big FlexHer”
Milwaukee native Lakeyah Danaee moved to Atlanta in 2019, but her hometown pride is on full display in the video for “Big FlexHer.” The Keemotion-directed clip practically plays like a Milwaukee tourism video before landing on the 19-year-old rapper/singer and her take-no-shit verses. Lakeyah had a huge year, signing to Atlanta label Quality Control and racking up a staggering 1.5 million (and counting) views on YouTube. [MW]

Lauryl Sulfate + Her Ladies Of Leisure – “Selfie”
Shot at Riverwest Film & Video / Riverwest Radio back in the days when a bunch of people could get together and film a video about the joys of community and acceptance, the video for Lauryl Sulfate + Her Ladies Of Leisure‘s “Selfie” is about, well, the joys of community and acceptance. Specifically for trans girls, drag queens, lesbians, fat girls, skinny girls, black girls, white girls, Latinas, and everyone else who gets a Sulfate shout-out near the end of the track. Oh, and the song is also about not giving a damn what anyone thinks, which is sound advice for all. [MW]

Lorde Fredd33 – “Summer Breeze”
Lorde Fredd33
‘s excellent Folklorde LP was born out of a trip to Brooklyn; the video for the record’s “Summer Breeze,” however, is all Milwaukee. The cinematic clip features a bold (and potentially explosive) bar heist, some moody cinematography, and a bracing twist ending. Directed by PhillyFlyBoy, the video also turns traditional gender roles on their heads, tying into the song’s theme of “encouraging men to create deeper bonds within their relationships.” [MW]

Ms. Lotus Fankh “No Funerals”
It’s been an unprecedented year for people taking to the streets and using their voices to demand equality and police accountability, but the fight for those rights has been happening long before 2020 and it’s sure to continue well after this significant year is over. Ms. Lotus Fankh illustrates the longstanding movement for social justice and civil rights in “No Funerals.” The video hammers that message home by including photographs from the Civil Rights Movement from more than half a century ago, as well as images from recent Black Lives Matter marches. Also included are images of murals honoring Breonna Taylor, Sylville Smith, Joel Acevedo, and other victims of police-inflicted violence. The stark and significant imagery is countered with footage of natural landscapes Fankh shot at McGovern Park. [TM]

Paper Holland “Back To The Sea”
Tropical-tinged indie rock outfit Paper Holland came together over the summer (virtually speaking, at least) to craft a unique video that manages to salvage fun and activity from a period of isolation. Footage of members skateboarding, canoeing, cycling, hanging out in parks, and spending time at home during quarantine is paired with the band’s downtrodden song “Back To The Sea” off 2018’s Galápagos. Though each member appears alone, Lora Kosanke, Kozzy, Bethany Powers, and Cynthia Zanow shot portions of the video. Joe Ludwig collected the footage and edited it into one cohesive, wonderful package. [TM]

REYNA – “7’11”
“Ghosting” takes on a whole new meaning in the charming video for REYNA‘s “7’11.” The title refers to the anniversary of an old flame, but the video is pure A Ghost Story. (You know, the movie with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.) Heavily filtered like an Instagram pic from 2012, the band-produced DIY clip is perfect for brooding on old relationships and/or rocking out in your room with a literal ghost. [MW]

You Win !!! “Shrap.nel”
You Win !!!, the new project consisting of multi-talented Milwaukee musician Amanda Huff and producer William Gardiner, has only released on song so far. But that song—an astounding trip-hop effort called “Shrap.nel”—has us excited for more material the young band expects to release next year. In the meantime, that standout single and the equally dark and mysterious music video for the song will have to hold us over. The video for “Shrap.nel” features claymation and stop-motion animation made by local artist Francheska Gomez, as well as a sentient worm, a three-eye bird, and eventual acceptance of fate. [TM]

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