100 Greatest Music Videos

Ever since the dawn of MTV made the possibilities and influence of music videos seem infinite, what used to be an extra promotional tool has become a veritable art-form in itself. From Michael Jackson’s innovative ‘Thriller’ epic to Blur’s heartwarming milk carton movie for ‘Coffee & TV’ and MIA’s more recent, controversial promo for ‘Born Free’, the music video has come into a life of its own. Here, we celebrate 100 of the best: how many have you seen?

100 Billie Jean

Released: 1982

Director: Steve Barron


Just because; the moonwalk is still ruddy amazing nearly 30 years after the fact. SHA-MO!

Best bit: The little dance he does on the steps which light up.

99 Hustler

Released: 2007

Director: Ace Norton

Seemingly your typical tits and ass dance video, and then it turns into something much more sinister and thought provoking half way through. ‘Sexy Time’ gone a bit wonky.


Best bit: The final close up on the pyramid of scary ladies.

98 Get Some

Released: 2011

Director: Johan Söderberg

A bit of ‘And God Created…Lykke’ as Ms.Li sheds her little girl image and becomes a determined, cave-woman on an angry mission.

Best bit: The triple, tribal assault of 3 Lykke’s.

97 Watching The Planets

Released: 2010

Director: Jérémie Périn

Lots of hipster nakedness on show, on this before ‘Born This Way’ take on birthing a new nation. Wayne Coyne sneakily manages to keep his clothes on.

Best bit: The triumphant naked parade with Wayne carried about the revellers heads in that clear plastic ball.
Watch it on Vevo.

96 Big Pimpin’

Released: 1999

Director: Hype Williams

Like the song, the video from renowned hip hop director Hype Williams, is a celebration of excess and a wish fulfilment of Jay-Z’s to be the biggest rapper in the game.

Best bit: Jay surrounded by bikini clad lay-dees. What would Beyonce say?

95 Parklife

Released: 1994

Director: Pedro Romhanyi

At the time this felt like a brilliant mix of comic set pieces and social commentary, before they went too ‘Lahandan’.

Best bit: Dave Rowntree and Alex James as the couple that never was.

94 Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Released: 1996

Director: Jonathan Glazer

A master-class of moodiness with it’s black and white speed varying shots of a cast that includes a shut eyed Thom Yorke, some dancers, a small boy and a dog.

Best bit: When the dancers leap up in a synchronised jump, like a flock of birds taking off.

93 Cold War

Released: 2010

Director: Wendy Morgan

A lesson in economy. The camera stays on a close up of Monae’s face performing the track, channelling the spirit of both Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ clip and D’Angelo’s ‘Untitled’

Best bit: When she starts crying. All the more affecting for the fact it seems to come out of nowhere.

92 Sleep Now In The Fire

Released: 1999

Director: Michael Moore

It caused the New York Stock Exchange to be closed and Rage were taken from the scene by security after they tried to gatecrash the Exchange. Literally ‘the Machine’ being raged at.

Best bit: The message of victory at the end.


91 Borderline

Released: 1984

Director: Mary Lambert

She would go on to make much more complex music videos, but this one worked because of the way it captured the spirit of early, downtown Madge. Post-feminist kudos too for spurning her boyfriend for the rich photographer dude.

Best bit: That crazy, slow-mo street dancing at the very beginning.

90 Doo Wop (That Thing)

Released: 1998

Director: Big TV

A split screen perfectly mirrored the track’s retro chorus and very modern verses. Also pre-dated Amy Winehouse chic.

Best bit: Lauryn Hill doing her best ‘Diana Ross’ with a bouffant do.

89 Don’t You Want Me

Released: 1981

Director: Steve Barron

It’s all too easy to mock it now, but this film-within-a-film was pretty groundbreaking at the time, with nods to French New Wave and classic Hollywood fare like ‘A Star Is Born’.

Best bit: Susan Sulley’s finest moment; pacing towards the camera in a mac.

88 Shock The Monkey

Released: 1982

Director: Brian Grant

The morale of this video is; inside every well dressed business-man is a bald, white faced monkey-man waiting to get out. We couldn’t agree more.

Best bit: At the end when Gabriel’s two personalities have merged into one. Eek.

87 Learn To Fly

Released: 1999

Director: Jesse Peretz

The nicest guy in rock gets his funny on in several different guises. Watch out too for an appearance from Jack Black as the guy who put the pot in the coffee.

Best bit: When tween Grohl fan (played by the man himself) meets actual Grohl.

86 Rabbit In Your Headlights

Released: 1998

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Sort of like an extreme take on ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, Glazer directs this haunting picture of urban dystopia featuring a man walking through traffic. The bloke’s clearly forgot his green cross code. Doh!

Best bit: When he finally pummels a car and goes totally ‘X-Men’ .

85 First Day Of My Life

Released: 2005

Director: John Cameron Mitchell

A simple idea; getting people to listen to the track and gage their reactions. It works really well and, depending on your disposition, will either make you well up or reach for a bucket.

Best bit: The guy who looks like Kramer from ‘Seinfeld’ and his reaction.

84 Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do

Released: 2010

Director: Mary Fagot

Intense, 3D/interactive coolness from Robyn, as fans got to add in their own Tweets (via the hashtag ‘killingme’) to the laundry list of complaints in the song. Slave to the algorhythm.

Best bit: That you need 3D glasses to join in.

83 Been Caught Stealing

Released: 1990

Director: Casey Niccoli

From the drag-queen kleptomaniac to Perry Farrell covered in panty-hose, this is a line up of suburban outcasts and weirdos.

Best bit: When the ‘lady’ sticks something very large up ‘her’ skirt.

82 Salt In The Wound

Released: 2010

Director: Pendulum

Billed as the world’s first 360 degree video, it’s like what would happen if Ne-Yo ‘The Matrix’ had a puffa jacket.

Best bit: The green, spinning rave circles.

81 Drugs

Released: 2010

Director: Carl Burgess

All human life is here, and it gets creepier as the moments go on and the steam rises and the morphing goes out of hand. Whatever drugs they were on, we don’t really want any, thankyouverymuch.

Best bit: The older lady with the leather jacket, she’s the scariest of them all.

80 Round The Moon

Released: 2010

Director: Summer Camp

By re-editing scenes from the 1970 film ‘A Swedish Love Story’, we get a promo and story-line that totally fits into Summer Camp’s John Hughes- in debt aesthetic.

Best bit: The two leads’ pre-pubescent eyes meeting over a steaming dancefloor.

79 Teenage Riot

Released: 1988

Director: Sonic Youth

The musical ‘teenage riots’ that The Youth pay tribute here range from Patti Smith and Dennis Wilson to Minor Threat and Nick Cave.

Best bit: When Patti Smith gets ready to leap out, cat like, from the screen.

78 Elvis

Released: 2008

Director: Saam Farahmand

Creeping flesh, bare torsos and vibrating cheeks — Saam proves he’s the master of subtle menace.

Best bit: The vibrating neck bit.

77 Janie’s Got A Gun

Released: 1989

Director: David Fincher

‘Se7en’ director Fincher creates this brilliantly stylised mini movie-like tale of sexual abuse and revenge.

Best bit: The powerful shots of “Janie” running through traffic.

76 It’s Oh So Quiet

Released: 1995

Director: Spike Jonze

Jonze goes for old Hollywood glamour but does so in a particularly Bjork-ian way. So much so that you feel like you’re inside the Icelandic pixie’s head.

Best bit: The amazing Bjork backflip.

75 Silver Lining

Released: 2007

Director: Autumn de Wilde

Art imitating life here, as the real life band ex’s Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett play a couple whose happy day goes pear shaped.

Best bit: When Jenny flees the wedding.
Watch it on YouTube.

74 Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Released: 1983

Director: Russell Mulcahy

Something’s not quite right in this boarding school. Oh, it’s the fact that the pupils are all..ex pupils in more ways than one…

Best bit: When we see the choir with no eyes.

73 You Only Live Once

Released: 2006

Director: Samuel Bayer

Is it a space ship or a mental asylum? The Strokes get covered in a black jet of oil, lovingly shot close up. In retrospect, a bit like a metaphor for their recent inter-band relations. (It’s a mental asylum isn’t it?)

Best bit: Near the end when they are pretty much drowning but are up for one last chorus.
Watch it on Youtube.

72 Estranged

Released: 1991

Director: Andy Morahan

9 minutes of fame paranoia courtesy of Mr Axl Rose at his most bombastic. It features a SWAT team, actual dolphins and a massive Slash guitar solo. Need we say more?

Best bit: The dolphins don’t want Axl to kill himself. So they save him.

71 My Name Is

Released: 1999

Director: Phillip Atwell, Dr Dre

Marshall Mathers would never be this carefree and slapstick again. Too many unpleasant funnies to mention, including references to ‘The Brady Bunch’, Marilyn Manson and Bill Clinton.

Best bit: That uncanny Marilyn Manson impression.

70 Bohemian Rhapsody

Released: 1975

Director: Bruce Gowers

The first, and for many still the best, example of the ‘K.I.S.S.’ approach to videos (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Best bit: Multiple Freddie’s going off during the ‘Scaramoosh! Scaramoosh!’ bit.

69 B.O.B

Released: 2002

Director: Dave Meyers

Psychedelic party that makes you want to join Big Boi and Andre 3000 in their massive, Dirty South bounce off. Boi’s so happy, he even gone and had a special do done.

Best bit:When the monkey goes crazy.

68 Twin Flames

Released: 2010

Director: Saam Farahmand

For all those who’ve wondered what a conjoined New Rave orgy would look like, well now you know! A run-on, well oiled, love-in scene that would make Aphex Twin blush. And then change the channel.

Best bit: The final NSFW alert moment.

67 Da Funk

Released: 1996

Director:Spike Jonze

Kind of like a prelude to ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, this was the moment Spike Jonze’s inimitable style became uniquely his. And to prove the point, ‘Da Funk”s epic adventure with Charles the dog refuses to leave the memory 15 years after the fact. Woof!

Best bit: When Charles meets Beatrice

66 The Scientist

Released: 2002

Director: Jamie Thraves

Based on The Pharcyde’s ‘Drop’ video, this front to back melodrama sees Chris Martin caught in a car crash/amnesia funk. Some might say it makes the song quite a bit more interesting than it deserves to be. But not us, no.

Best bit: When the full horror of what Mr Martin has walked away from becomes apparent (and no, it’s not Gwyneth’s Goop website).


65 Imitation Of Life

Released: 2001

Director: Garth Jennings

Although R.E.M weren’t functioning on all cylinders musically, this video was totally avant-garde. A pool party in over-exposed, rainbow colours which got ripped apart via the camera zooming in and out with the randomness of a CCTV camera, it stuck in the mind.

Best bit: The man on fire rolling on by as Stipey does his best ‘mad eyes’ look. There’s something in the punch, babes.

64 Drop

Released: 1995

Director: Spike Jonze

You’re thinking ‘Those are some brilliant dance moves,’ but, hang on, something’s not quite right. It’s because…they’re all… backwards! A simple ‘dance video’ idea, which Spike Jonze would reprise a few years later with Fatboy Slim.

Best bit: The arms aloft dancing. Hard to replicate without breaking your torso.
Watch it on Youtube.

63 Spark

Released: 1998

Director: James Brown

One of the only times since her earliest days that Tori has lived up to her witchy-promise. This bit of ‘Village Of The Damned’-themed spookiness from the mistress of kook is very fine indeed.

Best bit: When it’s revealed that Tori isn’t , apparently, a very desirable car companion.

62 Always

Released: 1994

Director: Marty Callner

Big hair! Buffed torsos! Toothy grins! Yes, this shameless and totally mid 90s ‘mini movie’ from The Jovi was like ‘90210’ mashed with a ‘Diet Coke’ ad. It also featured future actress Keri Russell.

Best bit: Chucking the bag of groceries.

61 The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

Released: 1997

Director: Antonine Wagner

Bin bag coats, fish-eye lens tomfoolery, sunglasses bigger than most faces; a generally bonkers opening salvo from Missy E.

Best bit: The picture within a picture stylings of ‘Good Missy’ Vs ‘Bad Missy’.
Watch it on Youtube.

60 All The Small Things

Released: 2000

Director: Marcos Siega

Well, what can we say? Spoofing every music video cliché, Blink 182’s promo for ‘All The Small Things’ takes inspiration from the likes of Ricky Martin, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears – and then rips them apart.

Best bit: The fan dressed as a banana.

59 Let Forever Be

Released: 1999

Director: Michel Gondry

Taking inspiration from Ray Davies’ ‘Starmaker’, the video follows a girl as she dreams and has nightmares. The low-budget, psychedelic special effects have made the video one of the band’s best known.

Best bit: The shot with the classic mirror trick in the bathroom.

58 The Wilderness Downtown

Released: 2010

Director: Chris Milk
The brilliant interactive promo, which uses Google Street View and Maps to allow fans to watch as an animated figure runs through the area where they grew up, was a huge online hit.

Best bit: The moment you realize, “Hey, that’s that street near my old house!”

57 Cannonball

Released: 1993

Directors : Kim Gorden and Spike Jonze

One of the biggest indie anthems of all time needs a video directed by the legend that is Spike Jonze – let’s face it. The promo, which follows a cannonball rolling down the street as the band sing in their garage, is a classic.

Best bit: The classic shot when Kim Deal sings underwater.

56 Jeremy

Released: 1992

Director: Mark Pellington

The high budget, high impact, rapid-edit filled video for Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’ saw worldwide acclaim. It tells the disturbing tale of a young boy who’s driven to committing suicide in front of his classmates.

Best bit: Who doesn’t appreciate a clichéd cross fade in a music video?

55 Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)

Released: 1987

Director: Sophie Muller
The surreal video, which was one of a series made for every song on the ‘Savage’ album, sees Lennox play an oppressed housewife who breaks down, transforming herself into a Marilyn Monroe-esque vixen.

Best bit: Annie Lennox’s opening monologue.

54 Nothing Compares 2 U

Released: 1990

Director: John Maybury

Watch it and try to stop yourself from doing your best ‘recently dumped Sinead O’Connor’ impression – it’s difficult to resist.

Best bit: When she cries, it breaks even the toughest death metal loving heart, right?


53 Somebody To Love Me

Released: 2010

Director: Saam Farahmand

With Diane Kruger starring as Boy George in this home video style music promo, it follows a group of friends celebrating the star’s birthday. It’s a touching video, simply done.

Best bit: The scene in the greasy spoon café; we can all appreciate a good hungover fry up.

52 Tonight Tonight

Released: 1996

Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Based on Georges Méliès’s silent film ‘A Trip To The Moon’, it uses theatrical backdrops, simple special effects and turn of the century costumes to create this colourful, mystical promo.

Best bit: The jumping aliens.

51 Come To Daddy

Released: 1997

Director: Chris Cunningham

Creepy. That would be the word. It includes demon children, a possessed television and a freaky creature that “wants your soul”. Enough said.

Best bit: When the creature is released from the TV. Bet the old lady didn’t expect to see that when she headed out to walk her dog.

50 Closer

Released: 1994

Director: Mark Romanek

Trent Reznor bought an early 20th century roll of unexposed film to record this twisted music video on. One of the most controversial on our list, it features s&m, animal cruelty and religion – and sees Reznor shackled in a creepy basement.

Best bit: When a seemingly severed head opens his eyes.

49 Pass This

Released: 2003

Director: Johan Renck

Featuring female impersonator Rickard Engfors lip-sinking to the track as the entertainment at the annual meeting of a local Swedish football club, this mesmerizing video is tense, beautiful and haunting.

Best bit: Band member Olof Dreijer’s dance moves.

48 Cloudbusting

Released: 1985

Director: Julian Doyle

The idea for this promo was conceived by Kate herself and Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam. It was based on the tale of Wilhelm Reich, the Austrian scientist who tried to alter the weather with his cloudbuster.

Best bit: When Kate gets the cloudbuster going and it starts raining.

47 This Is Hardcore

Released: 1998

Director: Doug Nichol

Having directed promos for Sting and Aerosmith, Doug Nichol is known as being one of the best directors in the business. This melodramatic, Hollywood-esque video should be top of his CV.

Best bit: When Jarvis emerges from a circle of burlesque performers waving feather fans.

46 Enjoy The Silence

Released: 1990

Director: Anton Corbjin

Based on the kid’s book ‘The Little Prince’, the video sees lead singer Dave Gahan searching for a quiet place to sit and listen to Depeche Mode presumably.

Best bit: The satisfying moment he gets to finally sit down in that deckchair.

45 Wild Wild Life

Released: 1986

Director: David Byrne

With clips from the film True Stories, ‘Wild Wild Life’ makes you want to don your best ’80s attire and leap onstage to join the karaoke wannabes.

Best bit: The yellow jumpsuit at the start — the most retro piece of clothing you’ll ever see.

44 Breaking The Law

Released: 1980

Director: Julien Temple

The band rob a bank to pinch a gold record of their 1980 album ‘British Steel’. This video is worth it just to see lead singer Rob Halford pulling apart the iron bars of a safe with his bare hands.

Best bit: 0.48 in when the band make a hostage’s glasses smash with their dark sounds.

43 Hey Ya

Released: 2003

Director: Bryan Barber

Based on The Beatles’ appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show – screaming, fainting fans and all – it sees the singer play every member of ‘The Love Below’.

Best bit: Who honestly doesn’t “shake it like a Polaroid” when Andre 3000 tells them to?

42 Down By The Water

Released: 1995

Director: Maria Machnacz

With guys and girls alike instantly falling in love with the red-lipped siren that is PJ Harvey in this video, it’s mesmerizing. The simplicity of the promo, just Polly Jean dancing and swimming, proves what a gripping performer the NME Award winner is.

Best bit: The whispered end.

41 Pon De Floor

Released: 2009

Director: Eric Wareheim

Where to begin? The tutus, the cartoon house, the ridiculous “dancing”… it’s guaranteed to either offend you or make you laugh. Or a bit of both.

Best bit: Is he meant to look like a chicken with that fluffy yellow jacket and hair?

40 Bastards Of Young

Released: 1986

Director: Unknown

Showing a single, unbroken shot of a speaker – supposedly playing the track – The Replacements should be celebrated for their simple, anti-big-budget-promo stance.

Best bit: When the listener smashes the speaker at the end. Rock ‘n’ roll!

39 Karma Police

Released: 1997

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Apparently this video concept was initially pitched to Marilyn Manson, but he turned it down. Seems more suited for Thom’s haunting vocals, anyway.

Best bit: The fact that you can’t see who’s driving the car makes it even creepier.

38 Firestarter

Released: 1996

Director: Walter Stern

Some parents thought this video, filmed at the abandonned London Underground tunnel of Aldwych, would be too scary for their kids to see, so it was banned from a few channels.

Best bit: Keef’s mental dancing, of course.

37 Blue Orchid

Released: 2005

Director: Floria Sigismondi

Karen Elson (who married Jack soon after this shoot) nearly gets trampled by a horse, and Jack looks like an evil Willy Wonka.

Best bit: Meg smashing plates as she drums away with hammers.

36 Raspberry Beret

Released: 1985

Director: Prince

For 1985, this video’s special effects and animations were earth-shatteringly impressive. Now, not so much.

Best bit: The cloud suit. Where can we pick one up?


35 Monster

Released: 2010

Director: Jake Nava

If Kanye set out to make himself look like a monster, then it definitely worked. Hanging bodies, naked corpses of models in his bed, bloody severed body parts… you might not want to spend a night at Kanye’s, girls.

Best bit: Kanye’s diamond teeth.

34 Like A Prayer

Released: 1989

Director: Mary Lambert

It’s a blasphemous cross between Pinocchio and Sister Act. It caused a massive uproar of controversy upon its release, but we can’t knock Madonna – she was at her peak back then.

Best bit: Oh wait, it was all a play?

33 Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before

Released: 1987

Director: Tim Broad

Here we see the Moz riding around on a bike near the Salford Lads Club. Unfortunately, the video was banned by the BBC at the time of its release due to the mass murder reference.

Best bit: They’re all wearing Smiths shirts – and have awful haircuts.

32 Bittersweet Symphony

Released: 1997

Director: Walter A. Stern

One of the 90s’ most depressing anthems gets a suitably epic yet morose screen partner. Here, Richard Ashcroft walks backwards, ignoring people, traffic and anything that gets in his way, with only some dampened spirits to keep him company. Cheer up, lad.

Best bit: Be honest – even though there’s no Reese or Ryan in sight, you see their faces the entire time.

31 Straight Outta Compton

Released: 1989

Director: Rupert Wainwright

There’s a police chase, as the cops try to arrest the members of N.W.A. Ahh, Compton.

Best bit: Yea, it’s a great video. But most importantly, it’s not Gwenyth Paltrow making an abhorrent attempt to sing the song.

30 Fit But You Know It

Released: 2004

Director: Dougal Wilson

Remember printing actual photos? Ah, those were the days. Well, thanks to Mr. Skinner, the concept of physical photographs can forever live on.

Best bit: If you look hard enough, you can also spot cameos by Danny Dyer and Frank Harper of ‘The Football Factory’.

29 Islands

Released: 2010

Director: Saam

YouTube isn’t experiencing technical difficulties. Those dancers in the background are repeating most of their moves. Simple and beautiful, just like the song.

Best bit: When you realise how the dancers’s subtle changes alter everything at the end.

28 Popular

Released: 1996

Director: Jesse Peretz

The video showcases the life of the popular kids in high school. Want to get their look? The video was styled by Andrea Linett (former editor of Sassy magazine and founder of Lucky).

Best bit: How many of you wish your lessons were taught by Matthew? He appears to be an excellent tutor.

27 Knights Of Cydonia

Released: 2006

Director: Joseph Kahn

It’s got a star-studded cast, along with cowboys, an apocalypse, robots and a woman on a unicorn.

Best bit: The band appear as a hologram in the bar, not to be upstaged by anything else in the video. And rightfully so.

26 California

Released: 1995

Director: Spike Jonze

There’s a man running down a street, while ablaze with fire. Not much happens, but it’s enough to leave us bewildered.

Best bit: Is he waving to people as he’s running past a fire hydrant? Might be more useful if he tried to use it…


25 Turn The Page

Released: 1998

Director: Jonas Åkerlund

The video follows a woman (played by porn film actress Ginger Lynn Allen) who is forced to prostitute herself to raise her young child. It’s a sad one to watch, but it’s tastefully done.

Best bit: The tender hug between the mum and her daughter at the end.

24 Helena

Released: 2004

Director: Marc Webb

They’re the band that keep giving back to their fans. Some MCRmy-ers were invited to partake in the video, serving as mourners of the late “Helena”.

Best bit: The corpse come alive to dance ballet. Could make quite a good Tim Burton film.

23 1979

Released: 1996

Directors: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris

If you’re feeling reminiscent of the ‘90s, watch this video – it’s full of bowl haircuts and Dr Martens. Beats the original concept of an alien hotel and alien-elephant masks.

Best bit: The “Proud Parents Of A ‘D’ Student” bumper sticker (at 0:53)

22 Heart Shaped Box

Released: 1993

Director: Anton Corbijn

Ever wondered what went on in Kurt Cobain’s mind? We’re hoping it went something like this.

Best bit: There are so many, but the singing crows at 1:09 make us laugh every time we watch it.

21 New

Released: 1999

Director: Jake Scott

We all know Gwen’s become a fashion icon, especially since launching her own clothing label. But this video earned her band the Most Stylish Video award at the 1999 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards

Best bit: Gwen’s rave make-up. Although nowadays, it’s got nothing on Gaga’s slap.

20 Coffee & TV

Released: 1999

Director: Hammer & Tongs

The video that accompanied one of only two lead Blur vocals by downbeat guitarist Graham Coxon was a suitably charming and shy number featuring a lost milk carton that eventually finds love before being flattened. Slightly twee but with a dark sense of humour, it matched its soundtrack perfectly.

Best bit: When Milky finally catches up with Graham only to meet a sticky end.

19 I Feel Better

Released: 2010

Director: Peter Serafinowicz

A brilliant and long overdue piss-take of the hundreds of inane boyband vids we’ve been subjected to over the years, this sees the cheesiest bunch of buffed up twats get methodically zapped by the power of a genuinely decent tune.

Best bit: When the alien thing turns up and freaks the girls out.

18 Close To Me

Released: 1985

Director: Tim Pope

In which the band all cram into a wardrobe on a cliff, as you do, to play miniature instruments along to the track before finding themselves at the bottom of the sea surrounded by creations as if in some goth pop version of The Little Mermaid.

Best bit: When the octopus man thing wakes up

17 Telephone

Released: 2010

Director: Jonas Åkerlund

In which two of the world’s biggest megastars (Lady Gaga and Beyonce) team up for some technicolour, Pop Art-meets-Tarantino outlaw thrills, thus cementing both’s reputation as two of the most badass bitches around.

Best bit: When one of the guards says “I told you she didn’t have a dick”.

16 Praise You

Released: 1999

Director: Spike Jonze

In which a fictional Torrance Community Dance Group get together and pull some particularly lame shapes to Fatboy’s big beat classic. Director Spike Jonze makes a cameo as the group’s leader.

Best bit: When the geek in the jumper tries to pull an MC Hammer and ends up ass over tit.

15 This Too Shall Pass

Released: 2010

Director: James Frost

It sees the band singing the track among some massive Rube Goldberg machine, which in plain English is one of those long, connected, set-ups that start with dominos cascading and end with a big OK Go advert.

Best bit: When the band get covered in paint at the vid’s climax.

14 A-Punk

Released: 2008

Director: Garth Jennings

Using simple but effective techniques like sped-up stop-start animation, blue filters and fishy finger puppets, Jennings created a short but sweet clip which complements Vampire Weekend’s jerky world punk better than tea complements biscuits.

Best bit: The surreal underwater bits.

13 Born Free

Released: 2010

Director: Romain Gavras

Packed with sex, crack pipes and extreme violence towards redheads, the clip was banned from YouTube, thus cementing its status for all eternity.

Best bit: Not really the best part, but the shooting scene is the most powerful.

12 Sheena Is A Parasite

Released: 2006

Director: Chris Cunningham

Their explosive debut track was so uncompromising and unique that it coaxed legendary director Chris Cunningham out of a six year semi-retirement. Less fucked up facial tricks than an Aphex Twin clip but no less disturing.

Best bit: The flashes of some scary little girls near the end.

11 Doll Parts

Released: 1994

Director: Samuel Bayer

The legendary Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana director created an understated beauty for Courtney’s love song to Kurt, filling the cutaway shots with a dolls’ tea party gone very wrong.

Best bit: The bit where a fake Kurt shows up.

10 Smack My Bitch Up

Released: 1998

Director: Jonas Åkerlund

High octane depictions of sex, drug, and violence-fuelled night outs don’t come much more hyper-real than this, a classic mid-nineties shocker shot in brilliant first person perspective.

Best bit: When you realise, shock horror, that it’s actually a girl doing all the damage.


9 Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa

Released: 1999

Director: Arni & Kinski

A revolutionary video in many ways. Featuring two young boys kissing at the end of a 1950s’ football match.

Best bit: The looks of pain, confusion and anguish on the boys faces throughout.

8 Sabotage

Released: 1994

Director: Spike Jonze

Hawaii Five-O, S.W.A.T. and Starsky And Hutch all get a nod in the classic mid-90s vid. It’s precisly these kind of dress-up-and-muck-about-in-a-city vids that make us want to form a band, chuck on some aviators and make our own comic promo.

Best bit: The bits where people fall out of cars and off freeways.

7 Buddy Holly

Released: 1994

Director: Spike Jonze

Thanks to what was at the time some groundbreaking editing, the slacker rock heroes make a cameo in Happy Days for a retro vid that seemed made for the song.

Best bit: The knowing winks to original cast members and when they get the Fonz dancing near the end.

6 Everlong

Released: 1997

Director: Michel Gondry

This was one of both Gondry’s and the Foo’s finest moments. Chainsaws, cross-dressing, monsters and metamorphases combine for devastating effect.

Best bit: When Taylor sits up in bed and starts drumming.

5 All Is Full Of Love

Released: 1998

Director: Chris Cunningham

The schlock horror director made one of the most strangely beautiful promos with this clip of two robots mating. It’s one countless awards and is even on permanent display at New York’s Museum Of Modern Art.

Best bit: The wide angle shot of the first full-on cyborg kiss as the chorus kicks in.

4 Black Hole Sun

Released: 1994

Director: Howard Greenhalgh

One of the classic WTF? vids, this promo’s playful satire of American family life jars magnicifently with the dark subject matter of the song.

Best bit: When the happy family get dragged skywards into a black hole sun.

3 Wicked Game

Released: 1989

Director: Herb Ritts

Long before hip hop culture made booty-shaking passe in music videos, music vids could be gently provocative and subtly sexual and present nudity in a classy way. This vid was just that.

Best bit: When the couple make out – which is most of it.

2 Just

Released: 1995

Director: Jamie Thraves

There’s a man lying down on the pavement, much to the consternation of the passersby. Everyone wants to know why he’s lying down but he can’t tell them. Enigmatic Radiohead at their finest.

Best bit: When he stands up to reveal why he’s lying there, but the subtitles cut out at the worst moment.


1 Hurt

Released: 2002

Director: Mark Romanek

The montage of shots of Cash served a poignant purpose at the time; after Johnny’s death seven months later it became even more powerful. A fitting audiovisual epitaph.

Best bit: Those opening chords and that opening line ”I hurt myself today / to see if I still feel” – near perfection.


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