My 10 favorite synthpop music videos of 2023

Dead Lights tops my list of the year’s best videos.

Dead Lights

My coverage of the year in synthpop continues with our first countdown: best music videos. Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be counting down the 100 best synthpop songs of the year and the 25 best albums. Stay tuned.

We’ve already looked at 50 synthpop and darkwave cover songs released this year—check out parts one and two. And I interviewed the Swedish duo KUNT, my pick for best new synthpop artist of the year.

Now onto the year’s best music videos.

10. Sea of Sin – “High and Low”

Performance videos are fairly common, but German duo Sea of Sin takes it to another stratosphere with massive light effects. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a video shine so bright. They shot “High and Low” in 4K ultrawide, and the clarity is remarkable—be sure to watch this one is full-screen. This is what you call majestic.

9. Dead Cool – “Stranger Kind”

If Dead Cool’s Angela Yeagher calls, you better answer. The North Carolina-based musician and her partner Johnny plot the perfect premise for their “Stranger Kind” video, and they execute it superbly. In picture-perfect suburbia, goths emerge from the black-and-white shadows to traumatize the locals. It’s part Pleasantville, part Cry-Baby, all anthem for our freaky community.

8. Séance – “Follow the Leader”

Famed photographer/filmmaker Anton Corbijn defined the look of industrial/synthpop with his distinctive footage of bands like Propaganda, Depeche Mode, and Front 242. You can feel his influence all over this video from resurgent Swiss duo Séance. They’ve cleverly combined black-and-white footage of the pair walking through Cold War architecture—a Corbijn staple—with stock footage of modern protests. Later on a TV screen, cult leaders like Charles Manson, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin appear.

7. Cold Connection – “Ashes”

Cold Connection celebrates Swedish synthpop pioneers Page with their cover of “Aska” (which they’ve also deftly translated into English). But the music video celebrates the power of music. When a frumpy looking woman in a drab apartment puts Cold Connection on the turntable, she’s transformed into a fun and fabulous party monster. This is the same effect Swedish synthpop has on me.

6. Devours – “Jacuzzi My Stonewall”

It’s been a tumultuous year for LGBTQ members of the dark music scene. Vancouver artist Devours does a lovely job reminding us of the power of queer joy—and that queer artists have always contributed to our music’s heritage. In his video for “Jacuzzi My Stonewall,” various footage features gay and trans folks being their authentic selves, falling in love, and sharing emotional moments. Plus, vogueing. Who doesn’t love vogueing?

5. The Overlookers – “You’re Nothing”

The Overlookers amp up our digital anxiety in their compelling video for “You’re Nothing.” This short film features women walking home alone who are stalked by a creepy character in a yellow dress. The same figure also sends them unsolicited text messages. It’s hard not to see this video as an examination of the horrors modern women face online and in the real world.

4. VNV Nation – “Wait”

It’s sorta hard to believe that an act as well established as VNV Nation has only ever produced two official videos. (For those keeping score, the first was Noire’s “When Is the Future?“) In “Wait,” hooded figures move in formation on a soundstage as incredible lights and lasers flash around them. The visuals pack a futuristic, otherworldly vibe that portrays Electric Sun’s doomsday anxiety.

3. Beborn Beton – “Dancer in the Dark”

It’s a simple concept. The boys of Beborn Beton go bowling. But the unlikely visuals of pink and purple bowling lanes sparkling beneath a shiny disco ball have become so iconic—especially that shot of Stefan Netschio singing the line “ball of confusion” directly into a bowling ball—that people now refer to “Dancer in the Dark” as the bowling song. There’s a big plot twist at the end that reveals the true impact of the song.

2. Curses feat. Jennifer Touch – “Boundless”

I love a good cinematic video. For German post-punk project Curses, filmmaker Nicolas Medy shoots their “Boundless” video in moody shadows and haunting atmosphere. The video opens with a spy storyline that captures the Cold War tension of Roger Moore-era James Bond movies. But it culminates in an S&M nightclub inspired by the Heaven club scene from Tony Scott’s vampire classic, The Hunger.

1. Dead Lights – “I Am Electric”

Since emerging from the shadows in 2020, glamgoth duo Dead Lights has crafted the best aesthetic in the dark music scene. Spectacular costumes. Black lipstick. Snarling attitude. They are single-handedly bringing a glittery pizazz back to the dark music scene, mostly conveyed through their exquisite videos. Any of the six clips they’ve released this year could top this list. My pick goes to “I Am Electric” for the incredible robot arms that frame these dynamic artists and add an elaborate dizzying effect. This is how you stake your claim.

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