From an apocalypse saloon party to a seedy motel murder story, country and Americana music videos have delivered in a big way during the first half of 2020. This year's top clips thus far tell a story, share a message or simply present evocative, stunning visual elements.
Of course, with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, some artists haven't been able to release their music videos as planned, or have had to change their visual concepts in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. However, many have found creative ways to make their videos at home, including Kane Brown, who released a clip for his new duet with John Legend that consists entirely of footage the two artists shot from home.
Other acts, such as Carly Pearce and Tim McGraw, used their platforms to tell compelling stories honoring workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Still, no one summed up that message better than the iconic country storyteller who made this list.
Read on as The Boot counts down the top five country and Americana music videos of the year so far.
"Till There's Nothing Left"Cam
It's a sweeping, cinematic party at the end of the world in Cam's music video for her early 2020 single "Till There's Nothing Left." Directed by Dano Cerney and filmed at the Hitching Post Western Saloon in Portland, Tenn., the clip centers around a bar full of patrons facing down the apocalypse -- and choosing to dance and party away their final hours on Earth. Cam strikes a perfect balance between the futuristic narrative and classic country aesthetics in the video, which underscores her song's themes of pure, exhilarating passion, no matter the consequences.
Keith Urban plays with visual contrasts and striking scenes of natural beauty in the music video for "God Whispered Your Name," the second single from his forthcoming album, one he first debuted at the 2020 Country Radio Seminar. The song celebrates the kind of relationship that can come along and change everything in a person's life, so the video treatment shows Urban emerging from darkness into light.
Urban admitted when he released the clip that the locations where it was filmed (especially the wet, musty basement where he spends the first portion of the video) provided some unique challenges. However, the payoff is extraordinary, as Urban rises out of the basement and into a sunny, picturesque desert scene with a mountain backdrop, which was filmed in Lancaster, Calif.
Ashley McBryde's music video for "Martha Divine" is actually the second installment of a mini-movie that begins with the clip for her previous release, "One Night Standards," but it's in this video that the action really comes to a boil. The storyline finds McBryde, who plays a motel attendant, as the witness and reluctant accomplice to a murder (or is it?), set against the pounding backdrop of her fiery revenge anthem. The clip gets major points for pairing the action to the song so perfectly, and the story has viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.
Many artists have released songs and videos that speak to the COVID-19 pandemic, but none is more powerful than Dolly Parton's. The singer shared "When Life Is Good Again" in late May, alongside a video that looks to a future in which people won't take the chance to be together for granted. While the clip provides a message of hope for those isolated during the quarantine, it also serves as an important message of gratitude to frontline workers fighting the pandemic, and encourages fans to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines as the virus continues to spread.
"Nobody But You"Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani
Real-life couple Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani offer a peek into their love story in the music video for "Nobody But You," which is the third -- and most romantic -- song they've recorded together. With shots of the couple curled up on a couch interspersed with home movie footage and photos, it's an intimate look into the lives of the music power couple.
Fittingly, the personal love ballad was a big career milestone for both artists: It topped the Billboard Country Airplay chart in late April, becoming Stefani's first No. 1 hit on the chart.