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Top 10 Michael Jackson Music Videos

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Quinn Hough The King of Pop Music and the Master of the Music Video. OW! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Michael Jackson Music Videos. For this list, we're focusing strictly on the official videography of Michael Jackson, which set a new artistic standard for musicians and shaped pop culture across the globe. Special thanks to our users Cannoli, perryhigh, J.TOhMyGod!!! and Keith Webb for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Quinn Hough

Top 10 Michael Jackson Music Videos


The King of Pop Music and the Master of the Music Video. OW! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Michael Jackson Music Videos.

For this list, we’re focusing strictly on the official videography of Michael Jackson, which set a new artistic standard for musicians and shaped pop culture across the globe.

#10: “Scream” feat. Janet Jackson (1995)


When it comes to awe-inspiring music videos, the King of Pop was always ahead of his time, but when MJ teamed up with director Mark Romanek and his own sister, the trio created a timeless, interstellar production with a little attitude. By utilizing a black and white tone, the futuristic concept of “Scream” further highlighted the lyrics of social alienation and frustration, and with passing references to Japanese anime, MJ established a dream-like effect thus creating a symbolic distance between the siblings and the general public, leading up to the song’s killer breakdown.

#9: “Earth Song” (1995)


Years before words like “hashtag” and “trending” inspired people to conveniently align themselves with particular issues, Michael Jackson was already thinking ahead by highlighting global problems while imagining a distant past. Just as the concept of “Earth Song” was a lofty vision, the visuals from English director Nick Brandt were equally ambitious through a variety of shooting locations ranging from Tanzania, Croatia, the Amazon Rainforest and southwest New York. In fact, “Earth Song” led Brandt to embark on a photography career strictly in Africa, and he was just one of many that began to see the world in a different light thanks to Michael Jackson and this remarkable music video.

#8: “Billie Jean” (1983)


As technology continues to rapidly change the world in which we live, it’s easy to look back at the dawn of music videos and snicker. But the back-story of “Billie Jean” is no laughing matter. In a time when rock stars and their party-happy productions were deemed perfectly appropriate for MTV, Michael Jackson could hardly get executives to listen – well, at least the powerful ones - simply because of his skin color. Fortunately, artistry reigned supreme, as both the fashion and dance moves of “Billie Jean” became engrained in pop culture, making Jackson the unrivaled King of Pop Music.

#7: “Black or White” (1991)


Revolutionary technology, a Black Panther and Macaulay Culkin. One of these three did not make the final approved cut as we see it today. When “Black or White” originally premiered on television, it was the '90s version of something going “viral.” Everybody knew who the “Home Alone” kid was, and the worldly visuals offered plenty of charm, but it was the groundbreaking morphing sequence that not only introduced Tyra Banks to the world but proved where technology was heading. The extended version had MJ performing sexually suggestive dance moves while vandalizing property, and somehow it all came together under the direction of John Landis.

#6: “Leave Me Alone” (1989)


It’s the job of entertainers to, well, entertain us…but for a megastar like Michael Jackson in the '80s, the collective amusement often came from rumors about his personal life, and obviously continued until the end. For the “Leave Me Alone” music video, MJ acknowledged the haters, and with some brilliant stop-motion aesthetics, he navigated viewers through a perceived personal playground. Oddly enough, the visuals and message of “Leave Me Alone,” only increased the public’s interest in the man who continued to evolve in a variety of ways.

#5: “Remember the Time” (1992)


MJ enlisted the help of comedian Eddie Murphy and a recently retired Magic Johnson for an epic nine-minute video that received critical acclaim. And by injecting a little humor into the contained Egyptian setting, Michael Jackson delivered perhaps the most entertaining music video of the '90s. Early on, a wizard hopes to avoid imminent death by capturing the attention of a Queen, played by the Somali-American model Iman, and MJ proceeds to steal the show while confusing the curious King. The defining moment of the John Singleton-directed video came during the iconic breakdown, and by the end, Jackson left everyone speechless.

#4: “Bad” (1987)


To fully understand this 18-minute short film and the shortened 4-minute music video, one must understand the influence of its director Martin Scorsese. While dancing tough guys in a Brooklyn subway may seem random to some, “Bad” is actually based on the 1961 musical “West Side Story,” and featured Michael Jackson as a character named Daryl. Early on, a young Wesley Snipes calls his badness into question, and naturally a dance-off is in order to prove who’s REALLY bad, even if MJ’s nemesis wasn’t exactly impressed. Of course, MJ and the supporting cast brought their A-game, but it was Scorsese’s direction that ensured a heightened sense of artistry.

#3: “Beat It” (1983)


You might not realize it, but this MJ classic is closely connected to the origins of hip-hop, and it’s also the production that truly heightened the possibilities of music videos. Filmed in the “Skid Row” section of downtown Los Angeles, “Beat It” brought dozens of actual gang members together for a group choreography sequence that has become a fixture of modern music videos. Just fifteen years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Michael Jackson transcended racial barriers while building on the recent trend of rival street factions coming together for the music – the same concept that led the formation of hip-hop music.

#2: “Smooth Criminal” (1988)


Like many of the individuals he worked with, Jackson was a history buff – a smooth criminal in the aesthetic sense. Not only did he channel tropes of 40s-era film noir, but he also touched on classic Hollywood elegance with Fred Astaire moves. Of course, nobody in the golden age of Tinseltown ever saw dance moves like this, as MJ introduced the anti-gravity lean, which was surely gangster in itself. “Smooth Criminal” solidified Michael Jackson as the boss of the '80s music industry, and the music video was leaps and bounds above anything you’ll see today, both in style and substance.

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

“The Way You Make Me Feel” (1987)

“Dirty Diana” (1988)

“They Don’t Care About Us” (1996)

“Michael Jackson’s Ghosts” (1997)

“You Rock My World” (2001)

#1: “Thriller” (1983)


Thriller. Just this one word alone speaks volumes across the world. It transcended the concept of the music video upon release, along with the very idea of what it means to be a musical icon. When Michael Jackson dropped “Thriller” in 1983, the world recognized MJ as something more than a musician – he was a true artist in the classical sense. His artistic vision was unparalleled in the early 80s, and by creating a short-film music video in collaboration with John Landis, he influenced a new generation of horror filmmakers as ‘Thriller” was nothing short of creepy. While the previous entries on our list all shaped how artists produced music videos today, nothing will ever compare to this iconic production that forever changed pop culture.

So, do you agree with our selections? What is your favorite Michael Jackson music video? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.


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