You’d better believe Beyoncé made the list of most controversial videos of 2016

Dec 24, 2016 at 3:00 a.m. ET

Well, here we are. As 2016 winds down, it means it's a time for a bit of a reflection period. Counting down the best of anything is a good start, but what about the most controversial, buzzed about, discussed and confrontational? I'm applying the latter terms to the most popular music videos of 2016 and the results may surprise you. There was a bevy of popular music videos that wormed their way into our brains over the course of the year, be it Rihanna and Drake's videos for "Work," The Chainsmokers & Halsey's "Closer" or Britney Spears' sultry "Slumber Party."

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So, let's rank the 10 most controversial videos, shall we? Now, take note: Controversy isn't always a bad thing. Some of these videos artfully commented on pressing social and political issues, while some just pressed our buttons. Either way, it's hard to ignore that these videos stood out from the pack and made a big statement.

10. Fergie, "M.I.L.F. $"


Controversial if only because Fergie is suggestively pouring milk on herself while singing about motherhood, this colorful video was the talk of the town thanks to cameos from Chrissy Teigen and Kim Kardashian. Motherhood never looked so tongue-in-cheek.

9. Coldplay, "Hymn For The Weekend"


Coldplay tries so hard to be likable that on their quest for world domination through the sharing of good vibes, they occasionally misstep. The exciting inclusion of Beyoncé was taken down a peg by her problematic transformation into a Bollywood pop star, and Coldplay's use of Indian scenery and people without actually featuring them felt culturally appropriative.

8. Radiohead, "Burn The Witch"


Radiohead likes to jar folks — one of the band's many great selling points, if I'm being honest. Their lead single from their 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool tackles thorny issues like political dissent that have never felt more simultaneously prescient and timely. Controversial? Yes, but necessary too.

7. Anohni, "Drone Bomb Me"


The title says it all and is enough to set off the alarm bells of intrigue. While Anohni admits it was a bit hypocritical to create a song steeped in anti-drone and anti-capitalist sentiments while the video has a huge budget and a high-profile cameo from model Naomi Campbell, this video and the lyrics are still shocking and stunning. Provocation at its most artistic.

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6. M.I.A., "Borders"


M.I.A.'s finger remained firmly on the social justice pulse in early 2016 with the video "Borders." The London rapper delivered verses on the discrepancies between freedom and repression with lines like: "Borders (What's up with that?) / Politics (What's up with that?) / Police shots (What's up with that?) / Identities (What's up with that?) / Your privilege (What's up with that?) / Broke people (What's up with that?) / Boat people (What's up with that?)." The end result was a commentary of the refugee crisis and the stagnant desire to do something about it — a controversial issue still in the international conversation as the year closes.

5. DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels, "Nobody Speak"


Imagine U.N. meetings getting downright dirty and the name-calling done out in the open. That's the world envisioned by DJ Shadow and rap duo Run The Jewels, who sit by and watch world leaders mouth their verses meant as derogatory insults. It may have been a bit more playful when it was released in mid-2016, but now the idea of a name-calling politician is a bit too fathomable for comfort.

4. Sia, "The Greatest"


Sia's avatar Maddie Ziegler returned to the fractured and beautiful world of Sia's music to realize "The Greatest." The song itself may not have been penned for the occasion, but it was used to score an interpretive and heartbreaking dance to remember the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. There's no need to see a gun to feel the devastating effects of its power, something Sia and Ziegler articulate in the video.

3. Kanye West, "Fade"


Kanye West's protégé Teyana Taylor is the definition of scantily clad (but it's kind of empowering?) as a 2016 update on the protagonist from Flashdance, writhing and stomping her way around a gym while West raps. The ending was enigmatic, the visual access to Taylor's body was a bit discomfiting and West's introduction for the video at the 2016 MTV VMA's was... intense. West is many things, but average he is not.

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2. Beyoncé, "Formation"


As much a celebration of black girl magic as it was a powerful indictment of the slights black communities in America have endured over the course of the nation's history, "Formation" was a prologue to Lemonade, Beyoncé's 2016 opus. Controversial is not a negative descriptor for "Formation." Instead, controversial equates to thought-provoking, for the song and its meaning wormed its way into the public consciousness and defiantly demanded recognition.

1. Kanye West, "Famous"


Naked Donald Trump sleeping near a naked Taylor Swift who shares a bed with a naked Amber Rose... Literally, the most NSFW and controversial video of 2016 needs no further description than that.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

pop songs meanings slideshow
Image: LadyGagaVEVO/YouTube