It's been nearly four decades since our best and brightest stars first made the jump from our stereos to our televisions, changing the course of popular music in the process.
In the course of that time, music videos have come to define what we love and remember about our favorite artists as much as anything short of the music itself -- creating icons, reinventing careers, sparking imaginations and inspiring untold millions of Halloween costumes worldwide.
On the verge of this Sunday's Aug. Here is our list of the artists who have made the music video eternal, with a YouTube playlist of videos from all the artists available at the end. The gory, heart-wrenching clip, where Balvin gets into a fatal car accident while on his way to the hospital to see his newborn, raises awareness about texting and driving. Despite hinting to Billboard in that he might cut a new deal with YouTube, so far none of his official videos can be found on the site.
But that's what makes the video endure -- the earnest hopefulness of Abdul lying in a field, singing of better times to come is something we all need a dose of right now. Why They're Video Icons : While the French electronic duo pioneered some of the most cutting-edge productions of the late '90s and early '00s, they weren't so self-serious as to not also make a series of surreal and often deeply goofy videos to accompany them.
With Jones' cool-guy dance moves set against eye-popping visual backgrounds, the clip propelled its singer -- whose last visit to the top 40 had come in -- to No. The invigorating video will instantly transport you to the club, even during a pandemic shutdown. Why They're Video Icons : The new wave survivors embraced their image as unlikely left-field pop stars with some of the most imaginative, quirky and generally loveable video of MTV's first decade.
The MTV Classic : Both literally face-melting and face-shredding, the self-directed "Faceshopping" video is as unsettling as it is unforgettable. Plus, that car driving into her mouth looked pretty cool. The singer's incredible use of acting and visual storytelling made a thundering impact in , the reverberations of which queer artists still feel today. Why They're Video Icons : A lot of their videos might just be stylish performance clips with an art school flourish or two, but what style.
The marmoreal cool of Debbie Harry and the band's razor-sharp duds plastered across TV screens helped define the nascent new wave genre, which would set the tone for many a mallrat's wardrobe. Worth YouTubing : "The Hardest Part," which gives us the rare opportunity to see Debbie Harry as a long-haired brunette, finds her stomping around a set covered in words like "Calligraffiti" and "Art Soup" while the band rocks out in jumpsuits seemingly borrowed from the Devo Spring Runway Collection. After that early success, the band attempted to outdo themselves in further creative videos; examples include a Rube Goldberg machine , shooting elaborate choreography in one long take , and even filming in a zero gravity environment.
The MTV Classic : "Here It Goes Again," the aforementioned treadmill video, went so viral that even your mom was forwarding it to her friends on chain emails. It snagged a Grammy for best short form music video. Worth YouTubing : The first video for "This Too Shall Pass" is less complicated than the alternate Rube Goldberg one, but is nonetheless a charming, one-take clip that features an awesome marching band. Why He's a Video Icon : The Golf Wang brand-leader has been defined by his visual sensibilities almost as much as his unconventional music style, thanks to his commitment to self-directing every video since the beginning of his career.
What more could you want? Why She's a Video Icon : Over three decades, MC has gone from breezy girl next door , flaunting a denim collection as wide as her vocal range, to secret agent , runaway bride and even her own stalker in a collection of music videos that play like mini-dramas. Instead they are shown sitting, standing, eating, smoking and looking both bored and terrified. For their trouble, MTV still refused to play the video because the song was about teen suicide.
But in classic Sia fashion, the song and video mix sadness and playfulness in an ultimately optimistic light. Plus: cops breakdancing. Why She's a Video Icon : As much a performance artist as a singer while on stage, Kate Bush created mesmerizing video work before MTV existed and pushed the format beyond its promotional functionality during the '80s, with her intricate choreography and thoughtful narratives. The MTV Classic : The influential pre-MTV clips for her surprise hit "Wuthering Heights" are brilliantly bizarre and ghostly, featuring a white-clad Bush gyrating in the mist for the European version and decked out in bright red dress while dancing through the woods for the U.
Worth YouTubing : Want to see Kate Bush pretend to be Donald Sutherland's son before the authorities come and take him away for designing a rain-making machine? Yes, you do, as the "Cloudbusting" mini-movie is a strangely compelling little classic. Why They're Video Icons : MTV was famously inhospitable to Black artists in their early years, and rappers in particular -- until this trio from Hollis, Queens showed that hip-hop was too big to be denied by the channel.
Worth YouTubing : While not as high-concept as some of their other '80s favorites, the "Run's House" video from carries a distinctly New York energy that makes it a blast to revisit plus years later.
Why They're Video Icons : One of the few classic rock bands to make a near-seamless transition to the video age, the only shame with Queen was that MTV missed them at their mid-'70s peak. The MTV Classic : While the drag-performed "I Want to Break Free" was their best MTV-era moment, their true gift to the form was the original clip for "Bohemian Rhapsody," a special effects-laden performance video that rightly made the quartet seem larger than life, setting the standard for the channel's early years. Worth YouTubing : "Hammer to Fall," a close-shot, punchy on-stage clip from that beats Van Halen at their own game, and feels like a dry run for the song's performance at Live Aid a year later.
Why She's a Video Icon : Though she has by now transformed from Nickelodeon tween to pop queen, Ari never fully let go of her showbiz background -- which has resulted in endlessly fun, colorful and surprising releases that often feel like full-fledged events. The MTV Classic : Strutting through the streets of NYC in a leather miniskirt with her hair teased to the heavens, Tina Turner pauses for a series of brief, contactless dances with a rotating cast of man-candy, before pushing them all away in the video for anti-romance anthem "What's Love Got to Do With It.
Why They're Video Icons : Few rock bands can claim to have brought an entire aesthetic to the mainstream, as The Cure did with their somewhat paradoxical video brand of brightly gloomy goth-pop.
The MTV Classic : "Just Like Heaven," featuring the black-clad band performing on a clifftop at dusk, alone, alone, alone above the raging sea -- as unexpectedly gorgeous and swoon-inducing as the song itself.
Why They're Video Icons : Red Velvet are of the most consistently imaginative music video acts in contemporary pop, with inspired and brilliantly executed concepts that prove quickly unforgettable.
The MTV Classic : "Red Flavor," a typically eye-popping clip with such loving reverence and almost interpersonal respect for fruit that it might even make you feel guilty the next time you add a couple strawberries or banana slices to your morning cereal.
Worth YouTubing : "Wish Tree," a contest-winning, SM Entertainment-approved video submission for the group's soulful ballad, in which two young women enjoy an intense friendship that at least one seems to hope will become something more -- with a fairly tearjerking ending. Why They're Video Icons : The college-rockers helped set the stage for and then heavily participated in MTV's '90s alt takeover, with some of the most challenging videos to still be unmissable in the channel's first decade-plus.
Worth YouTubing : "Fall on Me," essentially the invention of the modern lyric video. Why They're Video Icons : Tom Petty left behind more than four decades of songs that were beautifully wide open in their music, lyrics and emotions -- but as a video artist he reveled in a less straightforward touch, creating clips packed with playful vignettes, animation, wacky perspectives and even a corpse or two.
Blige, Aaliyah, Heavy D and many more. Worth YouTubing : "Sky's The Limit," a Spike Jonze-helmed visual filmed after Biggie's murder, was a brilliant re-imagination of his rags-to-riches come-up, starring kid actors playing the grown-up, living-large versions of Biggie, Puffy, Faith and countless other associates.
She's the leader of the '90s country-pop crossover stars for a reason. He received the video vanguard award in from Madonna, no less. Why They're Video Icons : Few acts inside or outside of hip-hop used MTV as a platform to spread a larger message the way Public Enemy did, with unignorable clips that satirized and lambasted societal ills and positioned the group as true prophets of rage. Worth YouTubing : "Night of the Living Baseheads," a combined media parody and protest clip with fake PETV news broadcasts, fake "beeper tie" commercials, and very real concerns about the crack epidemic's impact on the Black community.
Why They're Video Icons : Before Blackpink and Red Velvet, there was Girls' Generation, who set the standard for impressively-choreographed Korean girl group videos as well as the importance of eye-catching outfits and props. But his entire catalogue will make you want to rock your body. Why She's a Video Icon : Miley has managed to make headlines with nearly every music video she drops -- especially when one ushers in a new look -- simultaneously inspiring spoofs and Halloween outfits for years to come.
Why He's a Video Icon : Few stars of the s have realized the power of the event video as well as Drake, dropping an expertly crafted, headline-grabbing visual not just whenever he needs to promote a new single, but whenever he wants to change an inconvenient conversation.
The MTV Classic : As inspired and expansive as recent clips have been, it's still hard to beat Drake's neon-backdropped dance moves in the "Hotline Bling" clip , the only music video of the last decade to inspire an actually funny ugly Christmas sweater. But for high schoolers watching the video on loop, it played out the magical moment of finding out your crush likes you back. Why They're Video Icons : Dre's visuals have helped define multiple generations of hip-hop videos, from the confrontational energy of N.
Worth YouTubing : Gotta love N. But her husband is a cat. A gigantic sneaker that keeps the beat! Why They're Video Icons : After reviving their career in the late '80s, Aerosmith became MTV fixtures with their cheeky, funny and extremely horny videos -- and if you grew up in the '90s, you either wanted to be or to be with Alicia Silverstone, the video vixen that starred in a run of classic clips during the Boston rockers' Mk.
II renaissance. The MTV Classic : "Crazy," in which the aforementioned Silverstone along with co-star Liv Tyler, frontman Steven Tyler's daughter escape private school in a Mustang drop top, and get into a lot of good trouble at various strip clubs and convenience stores.
Why They're Video Icons : Size. Certainly no rock videos were as grimy as theirs when they broke out in the late '80s, but then none were even close to as grandiose -- or left such indelible images -- as the band's grandly cinematic clips for their biggest '90s hits. Why He's a Video Icon : The former Genesis frontman set new visual boundaries as a solo artist by making some of the wackiest, most innovative videos that came to define s MTV, and still look impressive decades later.
Why They're Video Icons : The rap-rock trio came of age under MTV's watchful eye, growing from frat-rap provocateurs to enlightened pranksters and lo-fi retro fetishists without losing their singular spark or having to leave heavy rotation. The MTV Classic : "Sabotage," of course, the overwhelmingly convincing fake '70s cop show trailer that probably would've gotten its own Netflix series by now if it had come out 20 years later.
Why He's a Video Icon : Whether mugging for the camera with icy aplomb or executing effortless splits while butterflying about the set, Prince's beguiling persona — from the confident androgyny to the ever-morphing fashion — oozed through every frame of his videos in regular rotation on MTV in the '80s and '90s. Why They're Video Icons : TLC's videos coupled direct messaging with sleek visuals and just enough choreography to keep it interesting, and paved the way for girl groups who had a little more to both show and tell.
The MTV Classic : The cinematic storytelling of "Waterfalls" told powerful and timely stories of young lives lost to drug violence and unsafe sex -- while the CGI effects of the three singers as giant water droplets was both unexpected and ahead of its time. The MTV Classic : Let's go with " Just ," the subtitled Hitchcockian pulse-racer directed by Jamie Thraves, whose pre-apocalyptic doominess feels particularly unnerving at this historical moment.
Worth YouTubing : "Lotus Flower," from Radiohead's third decade of stellar video making, which simply features lead singer Thom Yorke cutting a rug in shadowy black and white -- and is every bit as captivating as their more thematically ambitious early clips. Why He's a Video Icon : In the second half of the s, no other male hip-hop artist was as breathlessly unhinged on the small screen as Busta Rhymes, the former Leaders of the New School member who went solo and teamed up with director Hype Williams to draw out his dark humor and cartoon energy.
Dre -- as well as a sequence in which the music cuts out so that Rhymes can butt heads with a ram. Singer Kurt Cobain was impossible to look away from, and in just a handful of clips his dark vision came to screaming life. Worth YouTubing : Though he protested perhaps too much about not wanting fame, Cobain got it, and the jokey black-and-white Beatles-on- Ed-Sullivan homage of "In Bloom" showed that he also was in on the joke -- and that the trio were, in fact, here to thoroughly entertain you.
Right from the start, the pop princess established the lengths of her creativity with some of the most memorable videos of the last three decades. They received the video vanguard award presented as a lifetime achievement award in Not the most practical attire, but it sure looked cool. From the moment she burst onto the scene in the late s, Gaga made every single video she released an event worth tuning in for, with each part from the styling to the choreography making clear her painstaking mission to unleash her artistic vision on the world.
The mid-video rise from the stormy seas alone makes this one of the most underrated videos of the '90s. Jackson used her videos to establish herself as anything but, with her bold political concepts and sharp, in-your-face dance moves. We may never watch his videos the same way again after recent allegations , but simply put, we probably wouldn't still be talking about music videos in this way at all four decades later without him. If you haven't seen the minute video it comes from originally, you should maybe check the rest of that out sometime.
Worth YouTubing : The stop-motion-animated funhouse paranoia of "Leave Me Alone," the first of countless videos made by pop megastars to tell the paparazzi, the media, and their haters in general to just step off already. Why She's a Video Icon : Ascending to era-defining supremacy shortly after MTV itself, Madonna's high-concept videos — which channeled old Hollywood while paving a provocative visual path into the future -- were an integral part of her ever-changing image and the meticulous control she exercised around it.
The MTV Classic : The satirical "Material Girl" and controversial "Like a Prayer" are equally impactful, but the David Fincher-directed "Vogue" — with its life-affirming alchemy of old-school glamour, ball culture choreography and sumptuous cinematography — stands as her finest visual moment.
Worth YouTubing : "Open Your Heart," with its playful subversion of the male gaze via an art deco peep show, is an early and effective distillation of her endlessly analyzed, celebrated, vilified and imitated take on sexuality and ownership.
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