Top 10 Videos of All Time

As selected by the Songfacts community, these are the Top 10 Music Videos of All Time. Some brought us eye-popping special effects, others were so unexpected we had to watch it over and over. All were wildly innovative and entertaining.
10. Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai (Jonathan Glazer)

According to director Jonathan Glazer, "In the video, the four walls move on a stationary grey floor with no detail, to give the illusion that the floor is moving. In several shots, chairs or couches are fixed to the walls so that they appear to be standing still, when in fact they are moving. In other shots chairs remain stationary on the floor, but the illusion is such that they appear to be moving. The moving walls were not completely rigid and can be seen in some shots to wiggle slightly."

At the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, "Virtual Insanity" won four awards out of ten nominations, including Best Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video. ~ MindCrime


9. Buddy Holly - Weezer (Spike Jonze)

Directed by the Avant-garde Spike Jonze, the video for "Buddy Holly" cleverly incorporates shots of Weezer playing on the original Happy Days' Al's Drive-In set into clips from various episodes of the show itself, making it seem like Weezer was right at home with Richie and the Fonz. The video entertained viewers throughout 1995 and cemented the then-new Weezer's place as a band to watch, while being both a sharp commentary on pop culture, and pure fun. ~ ryansgirl


8. Take on Me - a-ha (Steve Barron)

A young woman gets sucked into a comic book while in a café, and America is introduced to a new wave band from Norway. This video put A-ha on the map with heavy rotation on MTV. Alas, the band was only a one-hit wonder here in the States, but the video lives on.

It's one of the most successful uses of rotoscoping, where live images are traced frame-by-frame, in this case with a pencil-sketch look. Since then, the look has been used far less successfully in Charles Schwab commercials and in the dreadful movie A Scanner Darkly. ~ Jenny


7. Weapon of Choice - Fatboy Slim (Spike Jonze)
What would be cooler than taking an actor who's famous for a certain style of character and letting him perform in a completely new way?
Director Spike Jonze lets Christopher Walken, who is known for his serious acting, perform a solo dance routine through an empty hotel lobby.

This video brought Jonze six MTV video music awards, and Walken a whole new fanbase. ~ Farin


6. Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel (Stephen R. Johnson)

Probably my all-time favorite video, "Sledgehammer" is a celebration of modern animation. Award winning animators The Brothers Quay used claymation, pixilation, and stop motion to give life to a plethora of normally inanimate objects. Never mind the technical stuff, the video is just fascinating and entertaining from beginning to end, from the model train encircling Gabriel's head, to the dancing chickens, to the singing fruit sculptures. The filming of the Gabriel stills for the video required him to lie under glass for 16 hours. The ending features Johnson and Gabriel's friends and family, the entire team of animators and a whole slew of ever-shifting furniture. It's all fascinating and fun, and impossible to look away from.

The technical stuff, of course, is important. This video has plenty to offer. In 1987 it won nine MTV Music Video awards. Nine. That record held for 21 years. I am apparently not the only person to love this video, MTV says it is the most played video in the history of the station, and is considered MTV's #1 animated video of all time. ~ Lucky (nominated by Crazy Don)


5. Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan (D. A. Pennebaker)

The original clip was actually the opening of the film Don't Look Back, a documentary on Bob Dylan's first tour of England in 1965, directed by D.A. Pennebaker. Bob Dylan wrote out the cue cards himself, intentionally using puns and misspelled words. This video is simple, yet brilliant.

INXS paid homage to (OK, stole) the idea in their video for "Mediate." ~ Laurie


4. Don't Come Around Here No More - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (Jeff Stein)

When VH1 became so popular in the '80s, this was one of the first videos that I absolutely loved, and still love watching it to this day. It was Dave Stewart's idea - look for him on top of the mushroom.

Here's what Songfacts has to say about the video:

"The video used an Alice In Wonderland theme, which was Stewart's idea - it reflected how he felt coming to Los Angeles. It was directed by Jeff Stein, who used a black-and-white tiled background and oversized, elaborate costumes, starring Tom Petty as the Mad Hatter. Stewart appears in the beginning of the video playing the sitar on a giant mushroom. At the end, the girl becomes a cake and is eaten by the band, something that caused enough of a stir that they created a version where she doesn't get eaten. The video was a huge hit on MTV, helping introduce Petty to a younger audience and building anticipation for his next videos." (Read the Songfacts interview with Dave Stewart.) ~ Laurie


3. You Might Think - The Cars (Alex Weil)

At the first-ever MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna writhed around on the stage floor in a wedding dress looking for all the world like a labradoodle in heat. Unfortunately, that is what people tend to remember best about that inaugural awards show.

What people should have taken away from it (and the more highly evolved of us did) was the ridiculous intellect behind the production of the Best Video of the Year winner, The Cars' "You Might Think."

The Adam of its species, this video revolutionized visual effects and paved the way for computer graphics in music videos. Most notably, however, may be the fact that it trounced Michael Jackson's (otherwise) equally revolutionary video for "Thriller." That alone advocates the creativity with which this video de-flowered virgin territory.

Fans of Cars music were once dubbed the "thinking person's music." While that may be true, the video for "You Might Think," along with its bouncy tune and (albeit weirdly acceptable-at-the-time) thematic stalkerish sensibility, toed the line of oh so many taboos. While the storyline of shape-changing-cartoon-Ocasek-pursuing-gorgeous-model is a riot, for those students of psychology who care to think about it, the insanity inherent within should be disturbing.

Yet, somehow it's not. It's just fun.

The effects may be considered archaic by today's LOTR standards, but "You Might Think" was the stand-alone masterpiece of the early ages. There's no getting past that.

And if you aren't familiar with it yet, get there. It can't be said any more clearly than that. ~ Shawna and MindCrime


2. Money For Nothing - Dire Straits (Steve Barron)

"Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits was possibly the first video I ever watched on MTV.

The illustration of the video to match the lyrics was perfect. It was the second computer generated music video shown on MTV, and the first video shown on MTV Europe.

The somewhat comical moving men seemed almost life-like. Even by today's standards, I think this video could be considered as ranking among one of the best. ~ Lea


1. Thriller - Michael Jackson (John Landis)

The video for Michael Jackson's song "Thriller" is consistently on the top of any "Best Video" list for a reason...it really is the best! Say what you want about Mr. Jackson now, but at the time of the video's release, he could do no wrong. At 14 minutes, it is one of the longest videos to be produced. At a cost of almost half a million dollars, it was the most expensive video ever made up to that point. It incorporated acting scenes along with the song. The special effects at that time were unparalleled. There are so many iconic features of the video, from Jackson's red and black jacket to the zombified dance moves of the creatures to the ghoulish inclusion of Vincent Price's rap and laugh.

In short, "Thriller" absolutely belongs on the top of this list. It is easily the most groundbreaking and identifiable video of all time. ~ Tenacious_Peaches

November 16, 2009
Check out our Message Boards to learn more about how these were selected.

More Song Writing

Comments: 54

  • David Dylan Malana Puzon.1v from PhilippinesMY TOP 7 GREATEST MUSIC VIDEOS:

    1.Return To Innocence-Enigma
    (1994)

    Love the backwards effect on this

    video.The idea was imitated by

    Coldplay for"The Scientist" in 2002


    2.Liberation-The Petshop Boys

    (1994)

    When this video came out in

    1994,the computer graphics seem

    ahead of its time.I also love the

    lyrics which goes"On the way back

    home at midnight,you were sleeping

    on my shoulder"which gives you

    the feeling of liberation and relief in

    winning the heart of the person you

    love


    3.Tonight,Tonight-Smashing

    Pumpkins(1996)

    Very artful video.Love the use of

    symbolisms and most of all,the

    twilightesque vibe which makes it

    just perfect for the song.


    4.Stay-Shakesphere Sister(1992)

    The video is highlighted by an

    ongoing struggle between Death

    (played by Siobhan Fahey)and the

    girlfriend(Marcella Detroit)for the

    soul of her lover.In the

    end,Marcella's love is stronger and

    she wins.I love The gothic

    undertones and imagery in the vid


    5.Jeremy-Pearl Jam(1991)

    Before this was ever made,nobody

    touched on topics like a kid being

    alienated or outcasted in school

    and then shooting his classmates

    afterwards.this was a landmark

    video for me because of the

    substance and depth that was put

    into it. ,there was also a part in the

    video wherein vocalist Eddie Vedder

    was singing like a shaman being

    posessed by his demons.is sad they

    didnt make that much videos after

    this


    6.Losing My Religion-REM(1991)-

    The video that catapulted REM into

    arena rock superstars


    7.Digging in The Dirt-Peter Gabriel

    (1992)

    Another forgotten great video
  • Connor from BristolGuys remember there its only out of 10, not 50!
  • Brooks from Bargersville, InI agree with Talia, the Smooth Criminal video is nasty
  • Shawn from Markham, Ontario, Canadawhy isn't gangam style on this list
  • Some GirlDINO I Think This Is what You're Looking For.? Regina Spektor -Fidelity
  • Dino from Syracuse, NyA few years back there was a music video " cant remember her name" but anyway it was mostly in black and white, started with her shoes tapping on the floor and finished with them throwing colors on each other.. anyone remember the name of the artist? Think her name started with a V..
  • Ap from RuritaniaGreat list. Perhaps one might quibble with some of the rankings, but the choices are spot on. Just for the record, the Jeff Stein who directed the Tom Petty video at #4 also directed the "You Might Think" video at #3. Also, he was the one who came up with the idea for the Petty video, not Dave Stewart. Success breeds many authors.
  • TaliaWhat about Smooth Criminal - gotta be one of the top ten!
  • Mmn13ps3 from Bdmissing Poets of the Fall's "Carnival of Rust"
  • Carlos from Laredo Txsabotage, hey jealousy and smells like teen spirit
  • Dave from UkWhat about "Hold on tight" by ELO?
  • Johan from SwedenWhere is I Want to Break Free by Queen???
  • Jeff Stein from The PastYou should check your credits more carefully- I directed YOU MIGHT THINK - Charlex the amazing FX company was given co-credit. I also did the concept for DON'T COME AROUND HERE NO MORE- I love Dave Stewart- and he did a fab job sittin' on top of the 'shroom and co-writing the song with TP- but I came up with it- with a LOT of inspiration from Lewis Carroll!!!!
  • Larry from San Jose, Ca UsaWhat about ... these are good ...
    Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden (I really like the middle interlude/solo sequence w/ the clouds and the band)
    Learn To Fly by Foo Fighters (it is so very funny ... a fun video)
    Been Caught Stealing by Jane's Addiction (maybe not the best ever made, but it's a fun one)
  • Debra From TorontoNo "Top 10 Music Video Of All Time" list is complete without Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" - now that was a GROUNDBREAKING video!!!
  • Tarryn from Melbourne, AustraliaI think this is a pretty solid list! I agree with Thriller as number one, as it was a groundbreaking video in many different ways. Just off the top of my head, I think that Madonna and Bjork both made some pretty impressive videos too.
  • Alex from Somewhere Out ThereExcellent list. All these videos are CLASSICS and what really seperates them from the rest is that they were GROUNDBREAKING. People don't really have much room to complain with this list.
  • Lockstock from BeijingI don't know what's that original in Thriller, as well as other MJ videos. yeah he's a great dancer, and the budget of all his videos is incredibly high, but as for me, that's not enough...there r lots of greater videos - Bohemian Rhapsody, Heart Shaped Box , Been Caught Stealing, This Note's For You, Paranoid Android, Freedom '90, Everybody Hurts - these have brought much more into the video music world
  • Mjishbabe from MjlandMJ you are the best of the best! I love u most!!
  • Bud from MontanaWhat about TOOL!!? they have sicc music videos. Also
    HYPNOTIZE by System Of a Down.
  • Malcolm from Whangarei NzWhere's "Land Of Confusion" by Genesis?
  • David from Massachusetts-Paperback Writer - The beatles
  • Brianna from CaliforniaWell, this is from later, like now, not oldies. But I must say I enjoy The Real Slim Shady ~ Eminem. Mainly because it's really really funny. And also, Alice ~ Avril Lavigne is a good one. Just because I like the movie. :D
  • Keely from VaMy top 10 favorite music videos (mostly from the 200s)-
    10. Sympathy by the Goo Goo Dolls
    9.Savin Me by Nickelback
    8.I'm yours by Jason Mraz
    7. The Scientist by Coldplay
    6. Gotta Be Somebody by Nickelback
    5. Pocketful Of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield
    4. Heartless performed by The Fray
    3. Angels On The Moon by Thriving Ivory
    2. You Found Me by The Fray
    1. Crush by David Archuleta (I'm a sucker for cute guys)
    I also really like U2's Where The Streets Have No Name video. It's so realistic.
  • AnonymousThey should update this list to include Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing" video. It is a brilliantly innovative and creative video that should be remembered even if all of their other videos are forgotten by the next generation.
  • Cameron from ClemsonMissing:
    The Offspring: The Kids Aren't Alright
    The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Dani California
  • Harsh from IndiaSwitchfoot's - We Are One Tonight would top my list, the video is amazing, should atleast be in the top 10.
  • Rhi from Chinaonly agree with THRILLER being the best videos of all time... no one comes close to it......
  • Lance from Clinton Corners, NyHow could you leave off "Freedom 90" by George Micheal? With those supermodels, both male and female (Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell to name two), that was the sexiest video ever made. Add to the fact you don't even see the artist save for a butt-scratching moment, and that is one of the best videos ever.
  • Anonymousum....Tonight, Tonight or Stand Inside Your Love by Smashing Pumpkins please
  • Cheyenne.moorePork and Beans!
  • AnonymousMy two cents - missing from this list:

    Massive Attack -Unfinished Sympathy,
    Smashing Pumpkins - Ava Adore
    (both for the long cool single tracking shots)
    Blur - Coffee and TV
  • RicardoI'll add "Boheamian Rapsody" - Queen, "Do The Evolution" - Pearl Jam,"Scar Tissue" - Red Hot Chili Peppers and even "November Rain" - Guns N' Roses.
  • AnonymousAnd Amalthea, that's "Here it goes again" by OK Go. I would have given that one some sort of mention... it was so big for a long time.
  • AnonymousOh, I love Blur's "Coffee and TV" video. That milk carton will always hold a special place in my heart.
  • AmaltheaA video that I think should be included in the "top 15" (I'm leaving 1-10 as-is) is Michael & Janet Jackson's "Scream". I say this because, while for all intents and purposes the vid should NOT be my cup of tea, it never fails to captivate me.

    I've got to agree with the poster who included Johnny Cash's "Hurt".

    Oh, and what is the name of the group and song that has the video with the band members on treadmills? That video is CLASSIC!!!

    Also, while not a great video under any circumstances, an "Honorable Mention" should be made to Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield", for being the FIRST video to incorporate dialog not originally included in the song.
  • Anonymoushow could 'The Scientist' by Coldplay not make it on? that video is AMAZING with a capital Z!!!!
  • AlexGreat list. These are all some the most memorable, ground-breaking videos ever. I have no complaints.
  • AnonymousCalifornication by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • PatThe only videos I'd add to the list are Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, and Video Killed the Radio Star, because they were the first videos played on MTV.
  • AnonymousActually, this is probably the perfect list. Maybe make it top 11 to include Sabotage. However, this is the first time, of the many similar lists I have seen, that I have no complaints. At first, I thought "How the hell is Virtual Insanity only 10th?" Then I went through it and it all made sense. Well done to the voters.
  • AnonymousHow could anyone leave out Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit"? That is just wrong....jeez
  • Hawthornhm... 6 vids out of 10 are from the 80's. Not much an eclectic list imho..
  • "rodimus" Ben LundyI agree with the above poster. Rather than whining about what DIDN'T make this list, look at what did and you will see a very diverse and deserving group of vids.
  • GenghisdonThe list is actually VERY comprehensive, IMHO. Great call on Sabotage too and I am happy to know if there was an Honorable Mention category it would be there. One other video I was surprised not to see was "Cry" by Godley and Creme - I think it may have been the first example of video morphing used later in Michael Jackson's "Black or White".

    Great list, nonetheless - brought back a lot of memories!
  • DalehasThriller may be Jacko's most entertaining video, but for the most powerful & important message, what about Earth Song?

    While on the subject of powerful & important, Linkin Park's What I've Done is worth a place in the Top Ten
  • AnonymousAside from what's already been mentioned, one video that should be on this list is "Hurt" by Johnny Cash.
  • EmmaWhy no "Tonight, Tonight"? Didn't it win six VMAs?
  • Anonymous"The Kill" by 30 Seconds To Mars,
    "Schism" by Tool,
    and so many others...
  • AnonymousWhat about Holy Smoke by Iron Maiden? Or One by Metallica? I am appalled!
  • Farin@ Hunter...
    Sabotage missed out by 3 points and is on #11... I was quite surprised about that as well.

    but for the record, you are very welcome to join us in the forums and take part in the voting process for the Lists to come :)
  • ShawnaHunter... sadly we're going to get lots of comments like yours, most likely, because no one bothers to read the instructions at the very top of the article and/or get involved in the nominating/voting process.

    If more people would, perhaps the resultes would reflect a much larger demographic. It's free... all you have to do is click the link given, and vote next time!
  • AbcWhat about bohemian rhapsody???? It started the whole mtv video culture! It was revolutionary!
  • HunterHow in the "H" is Sabotage not on here?! I am APPALLED!
see more comments

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