Related Videos

Top 10 Decade Defining Music Videos of All Time

VO: Matt Campbell
Script Written by Sean Harris. These are the musical short films that distinguished themselves from all the rest. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Decade Defining Music Videos of All Time! For this list, as recap all of the lists in the series focusing on individual decades, we’re putting a bigger emphasis on those music videos that have both stood the test of time and best connote that era. Special thanks to our users Nicole Calleja, jjfetz100, Jerome Magajes, yo_mum, Ronan Morgans, Jacob Witterholt, Oakley.24 and Anfernee Dickey for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Share
WatchMojo

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Transcript
Script Written by Sean Harris.

Top 10 Decade Defining Music Videos of All Time


These are the musical short films that distinguished themselves from all the rest. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Decade Defining Music Videos of All Time!

For this list, as recap all of the lists in the series focusing on individual decades, we’re putting a bigger emphasis on those music videos that have both stood the test of time and best connote that era. By contrast, within a given decade, we looked at the most dominating entries within that more specific time frame, but that may not have necessarily retained their popularity and resonance today.

#10: "Sledgehammer" (1986)

Peter Gabriel


It has been labelled as the most played music video in MTV history, and the channel itself ranks "Sledgehammer" as the fourth greatest music video ever made! The praise heaped onto our runner-up was unprecedented! With claymation, pixelation and stop motion techniques all provided by the people who would go on to create "Wallace and Gromit", it's an unbridled celebration of all things animation! A picture of the progress that was being made in the ‘80s, the video for "Sledgehammer" really hit on something good!

#9: "Hey Ya!" (2003)

OutKast


With so many iconic moments in its own right, it's amazing to think that the video for "Hey Ya!" was actually inspired by another milestone moment in music history. The film presents Outkast as they revel within an artificial 'American Invasion' of Great Britain... It's a parody of some famous footage of the Beatles, performing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, amid their original 'British Invasion'. With hoards of screaming, fainting fans put before them, Andre 3000 and Big Boi had really hit it big with this record!

#8: "November Rain" (1992)

Guns N' Roses


An epic record in need of an epic accompaniment, "November Rain" sure got that! In terms of narrative and story, there are few videos to match it... Axl Rose takes the lead role, as he marries (and then mourns) a character played by his then-girlfriend, Stephanie Seymour. But arguably, it's lead guitarist Slash who's the star of this show! His two solos are immensely impressive, particularly the first, filmed outside of the church, and captured by swooping shots achieved using helicopters. 'Nothing lasts forever', but we'd gladly watch this film a few times over!

#7: "...Baby One More Time" (1998)

Britney Spears


As a general rule, the 'and then she woke up and it was all a dream' line doesn't work too well... But for Britney Spears' debut record, it really, really did! Filmed fidgeting her way through the last few seconds of the school day, the then-teen singer takes us on a well-choreographed, and well-costumed tour of the school itself - its corridors and gymnasium, in particular! A daydream sequence which quickly proved a dream come true for everyone involved with her act, in 1998 Britney arrived, and, with this video, the whole world knew about it!

#6: "The Real Slim Shady" (2000)

Eminem


This one arrived at the beginning of the new millennium, setting one helluva precedent for the years that followed! Eminem was fast establishing himself as one of the most influential artists of his era in 2000... With this song, these lyrics, and this video, it's not difficult to see why! The short film is a hectic, hell-raising mash-up of everything that's parentally advisory about this record! It's four and a half minutes of celeb-bashing, sex slaving, bleach-blonding brilliance! Slim Shady, we salute you!

#5: "Money for Nothing" (1985)

Dire Straits


One of the first computer animated features ever made (especially in terms of music), Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" almost didn't make it onto MTV at all. Lead singer Mark Knopfler was unenthusiastic about music videos in general, believing that they detracted attention away from the performance itself... But video director, Steve Barron, eventually brought Knopfler around, and the film picked up 'Video of the Year' at the third MTV VMAs in 1986! It looks almost primitive now, but it was pioneering then!

#4: "Gangnam Style" (2012)

Psy


As of the late 2000s and throughout the 2010s, a music video only really makes it big if and when it goes viral... And "Gangnam Style" certainly did that! With over 2 billion YouTube views. it smashed all previous world records, and established itself as the defining video of its time! Psy's balance between suiting up and 'getting down' took the whole world by storm. So put your bowtie on and go bananas, because sometimes it's just the best possible idea!

#3: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (1991)

Nirvana


In terms of decade-defining acts, Nirvana are a no-brainer for the '90s... "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is probably their most popular record, and its video accompaniment epitomises a lot of what they were about... Unadulterated, uncompromising, unapologetic carnage! This high school mosh pit was the first film directed by now-legendary 'music videoist', Samuel Bayer... Who has since highlighted Kurt Cobain's striking lack of vanity in comparison to other acts. The singer just wanted something genuine, and got something that had us all jumping around the room – even the clip's iconic janitor couldn’t keep himself from bouncing along!

#2: "Take On Me" (1984)

A-ha


Legendary music video director Steve Barron is the creative force behind our second place finisher! This iconic A-ha clip is actually the second video shot for "Take On Me", and, besides the aforementioned Dire Straits win, it dominated the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards! The film follows an unsuspecting comic book reader, as she becomes a literal part of the pages that she's reading. It's pencil-sketch animation meets live action film... And it all looks remarkably effortless!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.



"Sabotage" (1994)

Beastie Boys



"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" (2008)

Beyoncé



"Californication" (2000)

Red Hot Chili Peppers



"Blurred Lines" (2013)

Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams



"Wrecking Ball" (2013)

Miley Cyrus



#1: "Thriller" (1983)

Michael Jackson


Our winner is way more than the average music video! With a running time of over thirteen minutes, there's probably nothing to match "Thriller" in all of history, let alone just the '80s! The Michael Jackson anthem merged filmmaking with music like nothing else before it, and is often described as the most influential example of its format. Efforts were even made for it to be considered for an Oscar nomination, that's how much it transcends its contemporaries! We might've listed Jackson's "Beat It" in today's top ten, but this record beats that - and everything else!

Do you agree with our list? Which video did we forget? For more thrilling top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
Comments

Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs