The best country and Americana music videos of 2018 range from heartbreaking to hilarious. They feature the artists doing everything from figure skating to testifying to dragging their real-life husbands behind them on a horse.
In short: Just about every emotion or scenario you can imagine made its way into a country or Americana music video this year. Some are simple and stripped down, and some are massive, glitzy, blow-out affairs. No matter your style, you'll probably find a video to match it in this list.
In fact, there were so many good music videos this year that we couldn't limit ourselves to only a Top 10. So, without further ado, these are The Boot's picks for the Top 15 Country and Americana Music Videos of 2018.
The music video for “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” opens with a proclamation: "Based on a million true stories.” The clip tells the story of a small-town teen who finds a fake ID and tries to use it to score some beer, just as Denning's song does. The best part of the video, however, is that, David Ashley Parker is someone who exists in the real world -- Denning used his ID as a fake when he was younger -- and he stars as the liquor store clerk in this clip. His appearance really drives home one of those million true stories.
The “High Horse” music video is pure retro beauty; the ‘70s-themed music video features saturated oranges and yellows, pitch-perfect costuming and hairstyles you have to see to believe. It all adds up to a killer, disco-inspired clip, in which Musgraves, trying to escape the obnoxious men in her office, enters a dream sequence fantasy during which she and her girlfriends head off to a karaoke bar in their best disco getups. The song they sing? Obviously, it’s “High Horse.”
Church is on the run -- at least in the music video for “Desperate Man,” he is. The country superstar stars as a getaway driver for a '70s-era heist, but viewers soon learn that Church isn’t on the run from the law but from his record label, because he’s trying to create and freely distribute his music via vinyl records. For a fun story that’s visually appealing the whole way, “Desperate Man” is a winner.
The music video for “I Hate Love Songs” opens with Ballerini, decked out in a sparkly pink dress, spinning on a velvet red heart while confetti falls ... and then, she wipes the confetti off and delivers the opening line, “I hate Shakespeare and Gosling and cakes with white frosting / Two names in a heart-shaped tattoo.” The clip has Ballerini walking through so many of the scenes she claims to hate -- bridesmaids with a bride, two people on a first date, a room full of Valentine’s gifts -- as she sings, “I hate love songs / But I love you.” An adorable addition to the one-take video is a cameo by her real-life husband, Morgan Evans.
The music video for “Babe” starts out with a picture-perfect couple, straight out of Mad Men, kissing goodbye on a perfectly manicured lawn outside their mini-mansion. The charade quickly falls apart, though, as viewers learn that the husband is cheating on his wife with a red-haired beauty (played by Swift). You’ll have to watch the clip to see how it all shakes out, but let’s just say that the wedding rings come off and the locks change. “Babe” was nominated for the CMA for Music Video of the Year.
“Diane” opens with a plea: “Oh, I promise I didn’t know he was your man / I would have noticed a gold wedding band, Diane.” Cam wrote the song from the perspective of the titular character -- the other woman -- in Dolly Parton’s iconic song “Jolene,” and the most impressive part about the accompanying music video (aside from the ‘70s-feeling set and details) is the display of Cam’s acting chops. She’s utterly believable as the heartbroken mistress who didn’t know she was a mistress, and it adds another level of heartbreak to the story of both “Jolene" and "Diane."
In the first shot of the “Got My Name Changed Back” music video, viewers see the three members of the Pistol Annies -- Angaleena Presley, Ashley Monroe and Miranda Lambert -- striding into a government building, dressed in head-to-toe rhinestones and boas. The comical clip finds its humor in moments such as when the judge, bailiff and stenographer give shocked reactions to Lambert’s delivery of lines including, “Well, I’ve got me an ex that I adored / But he got along good with a couple rogue whores.” Ultimately, the video turns into an all-out party, so if you want to feel good about a breakup, this video is the one to watch.
Viewers of the music video for “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)" can be forgiven for thinking, “Wow, it’s so convenient that they found the perfect home video footage from the ‘80s for this.” The “found footage”-style in which the clip is shot is the perfect, warm accompaniment to a song that references John Mellencamp’s 1982 classic “Jack and Diane.” The nine-minute-long mini-movie follows a love story, its authentic feel bolstered by the fact that Owen and company used local actors and extras from the town in which the video was shot. If you’ve got a spare nine minute, this tiny love story is well worth watching.
“Shoot Me Straight” is a hilarious, twisting music video that takes aim at country music cliches, Donald Trump and bro-country (to name a few). The other thing the Osbornes poke fun at the most in it? Themselves. If you want to see a drugged-up TJ and John Osborne propped up against a green screen and made to re-create their nightmare country music video scenarios, this video is for you. In fact, if you need a good laugh, “Shoot Me Straight” might be the best video on this list.
Morris is a badass; that’s the only conclusion we can draw from her music video for "Rich." In this clip, the country artist stars as a take-no-prisoners bounty hunter, whose quest is underscored by explosions, burning dynamite and Morris on a horse, dragging a hostage (played by her husband, Ryan Hurd) behind her. The whole thing is a total delight, as viewers get to watch Morris play a bounty hunter with a pirate attitude (and the Old West sets are a lot of fun, too).
Brown's “Short Skirt Weather” music video is an absolute treat. The stars of the clip are literal Barbie dolls, and the cleverly shot video shows them cruising in a Jeep (of course) as the male Barbie dolls gawk at them on the sidewalk. We get to see Barbies in the pool, Barbies at the club, Barbies grilling out -- and Brown and his band in Barbie form, too. It’s got a nostalgic vibe that’s pure fun.
Kelly impresses in the music video for “Son of a Highway Daughter,” and not just with his singing chops. The clip also showcases Kelly’s incredible figure skating abilities. If you’re as surprised as we were, know that Kelly has trained for a long time: "I actually competitively skated when I was younger and even moved away from home to train when I was like 14. WHY IDK prolly so I could do this video ..." the artist jokes in an Instagram post. But this video is no joke; it’s a stark, simple and beautiful addition to Kelly’s haunting song.
Eldredge stars in this music video for “Love Someone" -- but he is definitely not the star of the show. That honor goes to his dog, Edgar Boogie, who stars as the object of Eldredge’s affections in the alternate, “Edgar Cut” of this clip. Sure, there's another video for "Love Someone," but as far as we’re concerned, this one's the only cut, and after watching Edgar eat a candlelit dinner in a tuxedo, ride in a sidecar wearing goggles or just run through a sunny field, we think you’ll agree. Sometimes, all you need is a good dog video, and this one's a perfect option -- although it definitely gives new meaning to the lyrics “You knock me out, kiss by kiss.”
“Drunk Girl” is not the song you expect, and its accompanying music video is no different. It’s dark and sometimes difficult to watch, but, ultimately, hopeful. The clip opens with a content warning, because of the face-forward way it deals with trauma, abuse and consent. The narrative of a woman dealing with cycles of abuse is underscored by the chorus’ lyrics of, “Take a drunk girl home / Let her sleep alone.” It’s an important music video, and one that turns redemptive if you can make it through the end (if you’re able, it’s worth trying). It was nominated for the CMA's Music Video of the Year honor.
The “Summer’s End” music video is equal parts beautiful and devastating … and you definitely shouldn’t watch it without tissues handy. Its non-linear narrative cuts between shots of a young girl, her grandfather and her mother, until (following moments in which the girl is sobbing in her classroom and being comforted by her friends) it becomes clear that the girl’s mother has died, a victim of the opioid crisis. The nostalgic, yearning tone of “Summer’s End” underscores the pain both the daughter and her grandfather are experiencing, and it’s a difficult, resonant video you’ll be thinking about long after it concludes.