Looking back at our first four years of LxL, we were truly shocked we never did this list. We have talked about it a number of times, but for whatever reason, we never got the guts or time to go through and figure out the best music videos ever. In many ways, music videos feel like a thing of the past, hitting their high period during the 80’s when MTV launched and in the late 90’s with Carson Daly and TRL. But the last five years haven’t exactly been terrible for music videos either, with YouTube being a primary listening tool for people, music videos have gained more relevance again. So with the recent release of music video master Grimes and Bowie’s new music film Darkstar, we give you our 10 favorite music videos ever.
10. Grimes – “Oblivion”
The release of her wonderful latest album sparked our decision to do this list. Grimes’ video for “Oblivion” is funny, strange, and all over the place in the best way.
9. R. Kelly – “Trapped in the Closet”
If you’ve never watched all 33 chapters of the “Trapped in the Closet” videos, you are missing out on one of life’s great joys. It’s bucket list material. Well maybe not bucket list, but there are few things more entertaining you can do on a Friday night than watch the mega soap opera of “Trapped in the Closet” from front to back. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
8. M.I.A. – “Born Free”
Unbelievably intense, graphic, and politically charged, no video does a better job of capturing the political ferocity of the music quite like “Born Free”, a dynamic short film that leaves an imprint.
7. Bob Dylan – “Like a Rolling Stone”
The music video experiment for “Like a Rolling Stone” from a couple years ago is one of the coolest ideas ever. Making a channel surf video where you can watch 16 channels that all sync up perfectly with the song is amazing, not to mention all the big names they got to buy in and contribute to the video (Danny Brown, Drew Carey, Marc Maron). Watch here.
6. The Pharcyde – “Drop”
This video is just pure fun to watch. It sort of reminds me of an OK Go video before OK Go, but instead of just making music for videos sake, LA rap foursome The Pharcyde made a killer song that so happened to make a killer video as well.
5. Kanye West – “Runaway”
Kanye West goes big or goes home when it comes to his videos, as we considered multiple of his videos for his list (the Zach Galifanakis romp of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and horror star-fest of “Monster”), but the short film video series he did for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy especially the beautifully cinematic “Runaway” was too good to beat.
4. Radiohead – “Just”
Conceptually, this is probably the most trippy concept for a video, which keeps you guessing far after it’s over. Why in the world is everyone laying on the ground? And should I lay down in my office right now? It also showcases a really young and feisty Thom Yorke and Radiohead, when they were a little more angst and a little less alien.
3. Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”
Who thought a dance troupe could be so fun and inspiring? Fatboy Slim again partners with Spike Jonze (who stars as the video’s dancing ringleader) for the feel-good music video of the century.
2. Michael Jackson – “Thriller”
Quite possibly the most iconic music video ever, “Thriller” raised the bar for what a music video could be, sort of a mini horror short film with incredible production. It’s the King of Pop on top of his game, doing some of his most iconic dance moves.
1. Fatboy Slim – “Weapon of Choice”
This might not even be the first Fatboy Slim video you think of, but man is it great. Directed again by Spike Jonze (the 3rd entry from Jonze on the list), this is the “More Cowbell” brilliance of Christopher Walken sashaying around in the most humorous and amazing manner. Impossible to beat.
Todd – White Stripes – “Hardest Button to Button”
The White Stripes are another band with a number of great videos, but some of their earliest, which were done by Michel Gondry, were some of their best (see the punk Lego touch in “Fell in Love with a Girl” as well).
Wes – Blur – “Coffee & TV”
A love story for the ages, “Coffee & TV” is one of my favorite marriages of song and video, as the milk carton love story makes for the perfect peppy pairing with Blur’s irresistible “Coffee & TV”.
Austin – Blind Melon – “No Rain”
Austin has always had a soft spot for Blind Melon, and I think it all spawns from the bumble-bee girl. This video pretty much defines the band and the 90’s like few other things.