My Top 20 Favorite Music Videos Of All Time: Part 1

And now it’s time to unveil my list.  As mentioned in my previous article, Mr. Michael Jackson is exempt.
By the way, you’d be surprised how hard it is to find out who directed a music video.  Aside from the most famous names in the field, many of these great directors remain anonymous and I had to search high and low to find out some.  Thank you to The Internet Music Video Database for making my search so much easier.  Here we go, round the prickly pear:
20. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye (dir. Natasha Pincus)
This is the textbook example of a song that I cannot ever listen to without thinking of the video.  Every time I ever hear it with another person, my immediate response is to ask them: “Ever see the video for this?  It’s amazing!”  This is the kind of video you watch over and over again, asking yourself how they did it, looking to try and spot the imperfections.  What’s funny is that I’d heard of Gotye for years before this; I’d met a few fans, but I’d never been encouraged to check out his music before this video sensation.
19. “A Matter of Trust,” by Billy Joel (dir. Russell Mulcahy)
And now we find the polar opposite of the previous entry.  Some videos you love for the filmmaking styles and technique.  Others are just cute and funny clips, good for sharing.  This video is vintage ’80’s camp, showing Billy Joel having fun and a crowd dancing on a hot summer day.  The dances are totally corny, but you see folks having fun.  The video doesn’t attempt to dramatize the lyrics of the song; they just give us a cute moment.
18. “Tomorrow Comes Today,” by Gorillaz (dir. Jamie Hewlett)

Freshman year of college, I had a roommate who was really into Euro-pop and techno stuff, which leads to the next two entries on this list.  Gorillaz was huge at the time; a fictional virtual band comprised of bizarre animated characters.  Their most famous song was probably “Clint Eastwood,” but I prefer this video as one of their trippiest.  The animated characters interact on the creepy backdrop of London after dark.  This is a perfect example of a music video creating a sense of atmosphere.

17. “Superstylin’,” by Groove Armada (dir. Rob Leggatt & Leigh Marling)

Again, you can thank my college roommate for this one.  An all-around funny video for a trippy, techno song.  It’s one big visual gag in the style of a Buster Keaton flick.  It feels a bit like a SNL-skit, and the dorky dancing is kind of silly, but I like this one for nostalgic reasons.

16. “Weapon of Choice,” by Fatboy Slim (dir. Spike Jonze)

When people list their all-time favorite Christopher Walken performances, they tend to list this video just as highly as any film.  That’s because the video is fun, Walken dances to impress, and considering how little actually happens, you definitely remember the video after watching.  Watching it again, I’m impressed by Walken’s agility!

15. “Womanizer,” by Britney Spears (dir. Joseph Kahn)

As someone who isn’t a Britney fan, I remember what a sensation this was when it debuted in 2008.  After a much-publicized breakdown, this was her comeback, and it was a badass comeback. Britney seemed to be saying “Fuck it, I’m a sex symbol” and went dirtier and rawer than she ever had before.  More than that, this video is fun and features some really good direction.

14. “Gangnam Style,” by Psy (dir. Cho Soo-hyun)

Now you might argue this isn’t so much a music video as a viral sensation and herald of the Asian invasion.  It certainly does showcase the Asian sense of humor with “nerd being the new cool.”  I had heard this song several times and had no idea what it was saying.  I actually thought it was saying “Gungan Style,” which might explain why they were dancing like Jar Jar Binks.  Regardless, this video is a lot of fun and I predict this song would never have become the hit it did without the visuals.  Not to mention the dance moves we all took from it.

13. “Express Yourself,” by Madonna (dir. David Fincher)

Most people would pick “Vogue” as their favorite Madonna/Fincher collaboration, but I prefer this one.  First off, I think it’s a better song.  Secondly, I remember seeing this video as a kid, having no clue yet who Fincher was, and thinking “Those are cool visuals!”  It looked like something out of BLADE RUNNER!  The video is just epic shot after epic shot, while Madonna sings some very sassy lyrics.  “Satin sheets are very romantic/What happens when you’re not in bed?”  I love this song, and I love this video!

12. “We’re Going To Ibiza,” by Vengaboys (produced by Kim Animation House)

Here’s another camp classic.  Yes, the animation is piss-poor, the dance moves are awkward, and there is a lot of random focus on the lead singer’s animated breasts, which are very large.  And why is there a random reference to Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky at 1:40?  But good Lord, this song is fun!  As are all the Vengaboys songs.  It’s thanks to this song that I first heard of Ibiza.  I used to think they were saying “We’re going to eat pizza!”  Luke, my college roommate, strikes again!  You can thank him for introducing me to this guilty pleasure.

11. “Gangsta’s Paradise,” by Coolio (dir. Antoine Fuqua)

This isn’t necessarily a great video, but it is iconic.  I hear the song, and the visual of Michelle Pfieffer sitting backwards in that chair immediately comes to mind.  Of course many of the images are taken from DANGEROUS MINDS, but even if you take this as one long film trailer, it does a fantastic job creating atmosphere.  All the cool kids in middle school loved this song and thought Coolio was the greatest thing ever.  Admit it, you know all the words by heart!

Join me next time for My Top Ten Favorite Music Videos!


2 thoughts on “My Top 20 Favorite Music Videos Of All Time: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Why Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Is NOT a Music Video | Let Us Nerd

  2. Pingback: My Top 20 Favorite Music Videos of All Time: Part 2 | Let Us Nerd

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