The Best Music Videos of all TIME

Posted: 2011/07/28 in Music
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Full video list via:
“Thirty years ago, on August 1, 1981, MTV began to beam a budding art form — the music video — into homes across the U.S. TIME takes a look back at the most memorable clips from three decades worth of music television…The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” video is so odd, so ’80s, so David Byrne, you can’t look away. Thirty years later, it’s still an iconic video for a band that was never commercially successful or had any true radio hits.But when MTV debuted a year later, “Once in a Lifetime” became one of its most rotated and popular clips and gave many music fans their first look at Byrne’s brilliant bizarreness. In the video, Byrne dances around like a demented marionette, jerking his arms and crouching into a ball, then swimming through a fake blue sea. He’s joined by a chorus of Byrnes in the background who mimic him (or is he mimicking them?). The video was later exhibited at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.”

“Those horns kick in and we’re transported into breathtaking music video territory. Stop-motion animation was the name of this new game, with Peter Gabriel allowing himself to lie under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming “Sledgehammer” one frame at a time. Director Stephen R. Johnson is clearly having the time of his life, matching up the lyrics to the images — Gabriel sings about “a bumper car bumping” and that’s what happens to our hapless star. It’s one of MTV’s most important ever videos: not only did it win nine Video Music Awards in 1987 (a feat still unsurpassed) but it’s the most played clip in the history of the channel.”

“For Nine Inch Nails’ menacing ode to finding God through S&M-tinged devotion, director Mark Romanek stages tableaux vivants from a horror movie, or perhaps a documentary about a forgotten wing of the Mütter Museum: its film stock aged and distressed, its palette thick with dust and spores. A disembodied heart pulsates on a chair, a pig’s head whirls on a spike, Trent Reznor hangs from a chain in black leather. Skulls and roaches everywhere. Even the “Scene Missing” inserts (largely intended to conceal a comely minotaur’s breasts, which are by far the least disturbing things about the video) add to the insinuation of latent terror and unthinkable perversion. David Fincher borrowed a remix of the song and the video’s chamber-of-horrors air the following year for the opening credits of his film Seven, whose God-lovin’ serial killer would have been right at home at the House of “Closer.”

“One of the most creative music videos of the ’90s, Spike Jonze’s take on Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” transports Rivers Cuomo & Co., onto an episode of 1970s sitcom “Happy Days.” The band plays a show at (where else?) Arnold’s for Richie, the Fonz and the rest of the gang. Jonze’s seamless integration of scenes from the original show with stunt doubles (especially during Fonz’s dance at the end), as well as the video’s snarky jokes (there’s a “To Be Continued” fake commercial break in the middle of the song) made it one of the most popular music videos of the decade. It also cemented Weezer as the era’s geekiest, smartest band.”

“Arcade Fire released an album (The Suburbs) that defined the directionless childhood of a generation. So it’s fitting that they created a music video that was as interactive as the world in which that generation now lives. Set to the song “We Used To Wait” and produced by Chris Milk, “The Wilderness Downtown“, the first HTML5 music video (click on the link for the full experience), lets viewers set their own childhood neighborhoods as the backdrop to a teenager as he runs through the streets and dodges virtual trees. Viewers can interact with flocks of black birds and even write sprawling, branching messages to their childhood selves. It’s the first video that truly harnesses the digital age, and one of the most personal you’ll ever watch.”


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