Graphic: The Recording Academy
Explore The Visual Worlds Of This Year's Best Music Video Nominees | 2022 GRAMMYs
Editor's Note: The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, has been rescheduled to Sunday, April 3, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The below article was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to reflect the new show date and location.
These days, a song's visual component is practically as important as the song itself. The artists nominated for Best Music Video at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show understand that well, and now one of them will have a GRAMMY to prove it.
This year's lineup spans pop, hip-hop, rock, and even a jazz classic: AC/DC's 'Shot In The Dark', Jon Batiste's 'Freedom', Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga's 'I Get A Kick Out Of You', Justin Bieber's 'Peaches' (featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon), Billie Eilish's 'Happier Than Ever', Lil Nas X's 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' and Olivia Rodrigo's 'good 4 u."
As we wait for the 64th GRAMMY Awards — airing on CBS on Jan. 31, 2022 — to find out who will take home Best Music Video (which is awarded to the artist, video director, and video producer), revisit this year's nominees below.
"SHOT IN THE DARK" — AC/DC
David Mallet, video director; Dione Orrom, video producer
When AC/DC needed a music video that matched the muscle of their 2020 comeback single, "Shot In The Dark," the legendary hard rock band turned to longtime friend and collaborator David Mallet.
Mallet is a rock lifer, having directed music videos and concert films for rock royalty like Queen's Freddie Mercury, Def Leppard and, of course, AC/DC. His relationship with the band dates back to his music video for the reissued "You Shook Me All Night Long" in 1986.
For "Shot In The Dark," which appears on AC/DC's 17th album (and first since 2014), Power Up, Mallet captures the band in full flight on an arresting black and red stage. Flashes of singer Brian Johnson, lead guitarist Angus Young, bassist Cliff Williams, and rhythm guitarist Stevie Young illuminated with bolts of light — "electric sparks," as they might say — trade off with the epic performance.
The video is reminiscent of their performance-based "You Shook Me All Night Long" clip, and watched side-by-side, it's hard to believe 35 years have passed.
"FREEDOM" — Jon Batiste
Alan Ferguson, video director; Alex P. Willson, video producer
Following the March 2021 release of his eighth artist album, WE ARE, singer and band leader Jon Batiste clearly sensed the world needed some cheering up.
In June, Batiste unveiled the music video for "FREEDOM," a track from WE ARE, the singer's eighth album that's full of bright horns, body-moving percussion and the singer's distinctive vocal tones. The video for the uplifting song brings that vivacity to life.
Shot over two days in the Seventh Ward of New Orleans — Batiste's hometown — "FREEDOM" brings in all the joy and spirit of the neighborhood (and its marching bands) with a high-energy street party.
Director Alan Ferguson is a virtuoso behind the camera, as evidenced by his past music videos for Lizzo, Solange and Janelle Monáe. Ferguson's video for Batiste's soul-lifting anthem is all quick cuts and bursts of color. By the time the song hits the first "let me see you wobble" refrain, you'll want to do just that.
"I Get a Kick Out Of You" — Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
Jennifer Lebeau, video director; Danny Bennett, Bobby Campbell & Jennifer Lebeau, video producers
It's always an occasion when mutual admirers Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga get together in the studio, and the pair's 2021 version of Cole Porter's "I Get A Kick Out of You" carries even more gravitas.
The song appears on Bennett and Gaga's second collaborative album (and Album Of The Year nominee), Love for Sale. Featuring 10 covers of Porter's jazz standards, the project has been billed as Bennett's final album, capping one of the great American musical careers.
The heartwarming video for "I Get A Kick Out of You" sees Gaga and Bennett trading off verses as they record the track at New York City's Electric Lady Studios. It's both touching and emotional, as Gaga adoringly watches Bennett croon, at one point with tears in her eyes.
Industry veteran Jennifer Lebeau caught the mood in the lighthearted visual, as it mirrors the song's laidback feel and analogue warmth — perfectly capturing the affection between the cross-generational collaborators.
"Peaches" — Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar & Giveon
Colin Tilley, video director; Jamee Ranta & Jack Winter, video producers
"Peaches," featuring R&B favorites Daniel Caesar and Giveon, the fifth single from Justin Bieber's latest Album Of The Year nominee, Justice, has proven to be the LP's biggest hit. A purely feel-good jam, the song needed a music video with charm to match.
Bieber called on in-demand director Colin Tilley, who has since directed the singer's video for his Kid LAROI collab "STAY" and his emotionally raw "Ghost" clip. For "Peaches," Tilley shot Bieber, Caesar and Giveon cruising a neon-lit cityscape in a vintage car, taking turns riding on the hood and top of the vehicle to deliver their lines.
The vid flips between two other scenes that allow the singers to dance as they serenade, the first showing the song's title in massive letters lining a mirrored runway. Finally, the trio gather inside a dome with flashing colored lights, with Bieber sporting a fittingly peach-colored suit.
"HAPPIER THAN EVER" — Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish, video director; Michelle An, Chelsea Dodson & David Moore, video producers
Billie Eilish's hugely anticipated second album, Happier Than Ever developed a slower, slinkier tone for her sophomore effort to delve deep into the anxieties and contradictions of life in the spotlight. Lead single "my future" and its follow-up "Therefore I Am" set that pensive mood, with the latter's music video directed by Eilish herself.
Eilish returned as director on the music video for title track "Happier Than Ever," which arrived in conjunction with the album's release in July. It mirrors the song's slow build to a cathartic pay-off, as Eilish escapes from a flooded house and lets it all out on the rainswept roof.
Compared to the intentionally lo-fi feel of the "Therefore I Am" visual, "Happier Than Ever" marked an ambitious step up, with Eilish using the shoot to confront her own fear of water.
"MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" — Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X & Tanu Muino, video directors; Frank Borin, Ivanna Borin, Marco De Molina & Saul Levitz, video producers
If Lil Nas X hadn't already made it clear that he's not afraid to push boundaries, his "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" did the trick. The controversial clip takes an untraditional approach to biblical and mythology-inspired scenes, including The Garden of Eden, a Roman colosseum, and heaven and hell.
Like the song itself, the "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" video serves as a representation of Lil Nas X's unabashed openness about his sexuality (the rapper came out as gay in 2019). He kisses a snake, dresses in Marie Antoinette-esque drag, and pole dances, before the video reaches its pinnacle shock-factor moment that sees the rapper giving the devil a lap dance — sporting thigh-high heeled leather boots, no less.
While it certainly caused a stir among conservative and religious groups upon its release, the "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" video is actually quite a thought-provoking combination of themes. Above all, it was an important bold statement for Lil Nas to make, with a Variety article even stating that the video "has changed everything for queer music artists."
"good 4 u" — Olivia Rodrigo
Petra Collins, video director; Christiana Divona, Marissa Ramirez & Tiffany Suh, video producers
After the runaway success of the heartbreak anthem "driver's license," Olivia Rodrigo quickly proved she wasn't going to be a one-hit wonder with "good 4 u" — both thanks to its scream-along chorus and its nostalgia-inducing video.
The noughties-channelling pop-punk smash about a scorned lover demanded an acid-dipped visual, and millennial expert Petra Collins perfectly executed that need. In the clip, Rodrigo plays a revenge seeking high school cheerleader — referencing characters from feminist horror movies like Jennifer's Body and Audition — as she raises hell across an unsuspecting high school.
At the song's bridge, Rodrigo (who has done her fair share of acting, most notably in the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: the Series) looks into the camera, hauntingly caressing it with her black leather gloves. Meanwhile, a messy-haired version of herself sets her ex-boyfriend's bedroom ablaze, giving a devilish grin before delivering the final "good for you" howl.