The 6 Best Music Videos of October 2021

Each month, we run down the most memorable clips and celebrate artists who are breaking ground with their visuals.

6. Penelope Trappes: “Awkward Matriarch”

Director: Agnes Haus

Just in time for Halloween, this disquieting fairytale stars London composer Penelope Trappes and her real-life daughter Chloe as two witches wandering a haunted shoreline. The backdrop is stormy and old-fangled, all lensed in sweeping, wide frames that suggest a millennia of ancient rituals. Wearing lofty cone-shaped hats and billowing outfits that Penelope designed herself, the pair come face to face on the stony beach, embracing one another in a transfixing vision of matrilineal heritage.

5. Aminé: “Charmander”

Directors: Aminé and Jack Begert

Here is another addition to Portland rapper Aminé’s run of strange and stylish music videos. Set in a leafy suburban neighborhood, Aminé and a girlfriend go about their mundane day in time-lapsed scenes—cutting vegetables for dinner, fixing the car, and, oh yeah, taking care of a 20-foot-tall labradoodle hanging out in the backyard. It’s a fun, very-extra twist that eventually ropes in a pissed-off next-door neighbor (played by the cheeky comedian and actor Rickey Thompson). The image of Aminé and his oversized pup lounging together on the grass and staring up at the sky is a bizarro picture of bliss.

4. Cate Le Bon: “Running Away”

Director: Casey Raymond

Step into Cate Le Bon’s art-rock netherworld. Filmed in the most cavernous depths of a venue called The Factory in Porth, Wales, this video follows the singer around shadowy corners. There are meta moments where the camera focuses on grainy TV sets showing close-ups of eyeballs and arms, as Le Bon and saxophonist Euan Hinshelwood traipse around in a sequence of enviable, made-to-measure looks by Kenzo. The mingling of video art, projections, and high fashion neatly distills Le Bon’s eccentric style.

3. Sevdaliza: “Homunculus”

Directors: Sevdaliza and Willemskantine

More musicians should cast themselves as gunfighting, sci-fi action heroes like Sevdaliza does in “Homunculus.” In this white-knuckled short film, set to a remix of the avant-electronic artist’s song “Oh My God,” Sevdaliza is pregnant and at home in a futuristic house when she’s ambushed by a team of masked men that she handily guns down. The twists only get more high-stakes and outré from there, involving needle injections, a helicopter airlift, and an eerie android doppelgänger. The ultraviolent clip deserves to be seen on the biggest screen you have.

2. BADBADNOTGOOD: “Timid, Intimidating”

Director: Winston Hacking

For this excerpt from Canadian quintet BADBADNOTGOOD’s visual album Talk Memory, filmmaker Winston Hacking had people hold up cutouts of archival photos and collages in different natural settings, revealing optical illusions as the camera zooms out. It’s a vivid blend of photography and nature, in which a face in profile with an open window for an ear peers out into the forest, and giant sneakers sit on a lapping shore like they were thrown aside at the front door. The practical effects and surreal installations end up looking far more convincing than any computer-generated imagery possibly could.

1. Mitski: “Working for the Knife”

Director: Zia Anger

In “Working for the Knife,” Mitski’s first single since 2018’s triumphant Be the Cowboy, the singer-songwriter is in an uneasy state of mind—about being an artist, growing older, and the unrelenting need to express herself. The song comes with a video set in a vast, empty concert hall. There are no extras, no audience, just Mitski. She’s in the elevator in her Be the Cowboy hat and a leather trench coat. She’s dancing the halls. She’s licking stair railings in blue silk. Her movements eventually become more erratic, culminating in a finale on the auditorium’s stage where she jumps, crawls, and stomps on the ground—all flailing limbs and intense thrusts, it looks like a full-body exorcism. A round of canned applause swells and then fades until it’s just Mitski’s fast-paced breathing and movements. Her forcefulness is cathartic, but it also reveals the intense loneliness that comes with putting your whole self out in front of an audience that’s all too eager to consume every moment.