The Manchester-based quartet the 1975 are one of the most eclectic pop bands in recent memory. They’ve explored thrasher punk (“People”), four-on-the-floor pop (“The Sound”), SoundCloud rap (“I Like America & America Likes Me”) and emo (“Sex”).
It comes as no surprise then that their music videos reflect this hybridized approach to songwriting, as each of the band’s videos has a distinct identity. With videos as memorable as theirs, many hold more than enough weight to be fleshed out into full-fledged films.
“Robbers” is the first music video from the 1975 with an overt, discernible plotline. It follows the narrative thread of two lovers, one of whom is played by ringleader Matty Healy himself. It’s clear that Healy’s character is a troubled soul, playfully pointing his gun at his frightened girlfriend. She later joins him in a heist that ends with Healy critically wounded. If its cinematic nature weren’t transparent enough, the video was even inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s 1993 crime film True Romance.
2. “Somebody Else”
The 1975’s mega-hit “Somebody Else” still has one of the most experimental videos the band have done to date. The chopped vocals in the track’s intro don’t even enter until three minutes in. Before then, it surveills Healy doing menial tasks, such as tying his shoes and washing his face, to sitcom-esque applause. It speaks to how, when depressed, going about life’s basic functions feels like an immense effort. The remainder is dedicated to Healy’s compounding loneliness, as he hallucinates about his exes in various environments.
3. “Me & You Together Song”
“Me & You Together Song,” from the group’s upcoming fourth record, Notes On a Conditional Form, conjures both ’80s and ’90s nostalgia akin to coming-of-age films such as Sixteen Candles and 10 Things I Hate About You. Set in a house party, Healy and crew don ’90s-esque outfits as teenagers drink and have sex. The video is directed by bedroom, but it may as well have been directed by John Hughes.
4. “The Sound”
The 1975 have never sounded poppier than “The Sound,” and its music video, as a result, is presciently self-aware. With the platform they knew they would acquire with their new style, the band preemptively use negative statements (“unconvincing emo lyrics,” “I only heard ‘Chocolate’ once, but I hated it,” “punch-your-TV obnoxious,” etc.) and refashion them as armor. Although a key plot is absent, it comes across as a rock documentary in which the band rise to stardom despite their critics.
5. “Settle Down”
Set in their nascent black-and-white aesthetic, the video for 2013’s “Settle Down” follows two boys seemingly discontent with their lives. After sneaking out, they meet in an alleyway where their hands connect and form a cosmic pillar of light. It’s one of their more abstract videos, but an entire black-and-white film that traces the adventures of two small-town boys is a story brimming with potential, where various ideas and conclusions can be realized.
6. “Sincerity Is Scary”
Overflowing with optimism, the music video for “Sincerity Is Scary” is the band’s most cheerful, yet it directly contrasts the darkness rooted in many of their videos. It’s filled with a seemingly infinite amount of Easter eggs, which Healy challenged fans to find via Twitter. The video itself sees Healy dance on the streets of the Business District lot of Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch while wearing a rabbit hat and headphones. This highly self-referential video is so charming and charismatic that it virtually begs the listener to smile and sing along.
7. “A Change Of Heart”
Based on Federico Fellini’s 1970 film, I clowns, the black-and-white music video for “A Change Of Heart” showcases Healy dressed as a melancholy clown dancing at an abandoned yet still functioning carnival. Shortly thereafter, he encounters a woman, also dressed as a clown, and they dance and play carnival games together, only for her to desert him by the denouement. The video is a clever reference to the 1975’s early black-and-white videos, but it adds an old-school cinema twist that’s unique to itself.
8. “The Birthday Party”
“The Birthday Party” is indisputably one of the band’s most bizarre videos, and it’s also one of their most brilliant. Healy is thrown into a video game-inspired environment, entering a building called Mindshower Digital Detox, where he signs up for one of the organization’s digital retreats. In this surreal dreamscape, Healy comes across various internet memes, including Pepe The Frog, an eerily contorted Shrek and Butthurt Dweller, to name a few. And if you’ve ever felt compelled to watch Healy do various Fortnite dances, then this is the video.
9. “Love It If We Made It”
The band’s biggest single from A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, “Love It If We Made It,” also features perhaps their most iconic video yet. Colorful silhouettes of the group juxtapose the bleak flashes of news events, including images of Alan Kurdi’s corpse, the murder of Eric Garner and the Westboro Baptist Church’s homophobic signs. Littered in between are fleeting bursts of pop culture, such as pictures of Kanye West and the late Lil Peep. It all happens so incomprehensibly fast that its ingenious subtlety can be easily overlooked.
10. “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)”
Despite the bright instrumentation of “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” both its lyrics and its music video are preternaturally dark. The song centers on Healy’s heroin withdrawal, and the video is a metaphorical representation of the difficulties of that struggle. It opens with Healy waking from a frightening nightmare, and he subsequently experiences a wealth of symptoms, including hallucinations, paranoia and stepping out onto the “Sincerity Is Scary” set, complete with the rabbit hat and headphones. It’s all also a brilliant homage to Talking Heads’ 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense.