The 40 best music videos of 2012

After watching hundreds of this year's music videos, here are our visual picks of 2012

What makes a good music video? This year plenty of artists and directors have tried to answer that question but failed. However 2012 did see sound and vision come together to create something beautiful. Here's an audiovisual romp through 40 of the year's best music videos, some of which are high-budget and high-concept, and others rely on one small, perfect idea. There's live-action, stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation – and a whole range of musical styles to accompany them. In fact, the only thing they all have in common is they deserve to be seen and heard.

Did we miss out your favourite? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

Written by Pete Ellender, Rachel Aroesti, Jon Clark and James Manning.

The 40 best music videos of 2012: 40-31

  • 40

    Hannah Cohen – 'Child Bride'

    Directed by Matthu Placek

    This appropriately tasteful video was reportedly a painstaking affair to create- but it pays off. Hannah Cohen looks up mournfully at the camera as she is slowly submerged in water, the sadness of the song matching her own, rather wet, predicament.
    Read more about Hannah Cohen

  • 39

    Angel Haze – 'Werkin Girls'

    Directed by Alex Lee & Kyle Wightman

    The rapper gets properly psyched up for her go on the skipping rope in an abandoned warehouse. Angel proves that female MCs are continually pushing boundaries, sometimes in unexpected ways: you thought you'd seen it all, but had you ever seen a man in a tin-foil balaclava? Well, had you?
    See Angel Haze live in London

  • 38

    Rudimental – 'Not Giving In'

    Directed by Josh Cole

    In a Filipino shanty town, two young brothers expertly negotiate the streets until one escapes and one doesn't. The song itself is probably a little too feel-good for this to be a bleak waste-of-life deal, but it's powerful nonetheless.

  • 37

    Holograms – 'Fever'

    Directed by Pau Siris/Pensacola

    A GIFtastic video that can only be described as an internet generation version of Terry Gilliam's offbeat Monty Python animations. Nothing about this kaleidoscopic montage of colourful clips really makes sense, and it's really just a mildly disturbing sensory overload, but that's what makes it so hard to look away.

  • 36

    Rye Rye – 'Boom Boom'

    Directed by LEGS

    Venga Boys get a 21st century make-over, although the video's decidedly retro: it looks like a cross between Megadrive-era Sonic and 'Street Fighter', if such a game had ever been programmed by The Beatles and Giorgio de Chirico aboard the yellow submarine. In short, a lot of fun.

  • 35

    Taylor Swift – 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'

    Directed by Declan Whitebloom

    Girl-woman Taylor Swift sings her ridiculously catchy break-up anthem in some cutesy pyjamas (complete with red lipstick and thick-rimmed glasses, obviously) in her cutesy apartment. But what really sets this video apart from the rest is her scarily energetic band who, kitted out in animal onesies and facepaint, proceed to gurn with a crazed enthusiasm for the rest of the song. Not suitable for young children.

  • 34

    Gorillaz – 'DoYaThing' (feat. Andre 3000 and James Murphy)

    Directed by Jamie Hewlett

    The animated group go 3D and give us all an insight into their delightful home life on Wobble Street. Weird and kind of gross, but charming nonetheless. And is that a Gorilla-ized Andre 3000 in the shower (and the cupboard, and the fridge)?

  • 33

    Spector – 'Chevy Thunder'

    Directed by Focus Creeps

    Ever wondered what would happen if a well-heeled British indie band got mixed up with a Mexican gang, 'Breaking Bad'-style? Well wonder no longer, as Spector present life on the road with a hidden agenda. Watch them indulging in rock star activities including, but not limited to: guitar throwing, lame fights and trying to get sand off their shoes. Plus there's a welcomed series of cameos from Anthony Kiedis' 2004 memoir 'Scar Tissue'.

  • 32

    The Shins - Simple Song

    Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

    A dead evil bastard dad (James Mercer) sets his kids (his new bandmates) against each other, makes them relive their crummy childhood and then tries to destroy them. Welcome to the group, guys.
    Read our interview with The Shins's James Mercer

  • 31

    The Shoes – 'Time to Dance'

    Directed by Daniel Wolfe

    Ever been annoyed by your neighbours playing music all night? This gory mini-horror flick, starring Jake Gyllenhaal in a fencing mask as a maniac who gets his kicks butchering smug hipster-types while they party, should bring you some closure.