I am a massive fan of music videos. I see them as short films, & if done in an interesting way can be SO powerful. When they really took off in the eighties people were blown away by them & it’s something that’s still stuck today, with releasing a song & a music video to match almost mandatory. It’s a really interesting way to visually show what a song means & I love it.
So today I’m exploring some of my favourite music videos. I think most of them, if not all of them are narrative with a story to tell & that’s why I love them.
Today’s post is in honour of Lana Del Rey’s music video to her single Video Games, which she uploaded to YouTube five years ago today. So naturally, first off in the list is…
Video Games by Lana Del Rey
I’ve written about Lana’s music videos before, but I have to say again how much I love Video Games. The first time I saw it I watched it eight times in a row until my sister shouted upstairs for me to cut it out. Before she was signed & had big budget companies to help film her music videos, Lana used to record herself then splice that together with clips of other things, from her own footage or from film & tv & upload them to YouTube. It’s this video style you can see in Video Games, the single that made her an overnight success. I will love it forever.
Do I need to explain how iconic this is? The John Landis-directed mini-movie was first shown publicly almost thirty two years ago & it truly changed the world. As well as featuring one of the most iconic dances of all time it influenced a generation of directors including Spike Jonze, turned music promos into an industry, and established MTV as the cultural force it is today. It’s completely brilliant, stands the test of time in every aspect & it will always be one of the greatest songs from one of the greatest albums of all time.
Toxic by Britney Spears
Honestly need I give a reason. Spears first approached director Joseph Kahn with the idea of a secret agent out for revenge against an ex-lover, also requesting that she be covered in diamonds in one part too. He took it from there & we got one of the most iconic music videos of all time. That blue stewardess costume is also high up on the Halloween wish list too.
I want to Break Free by Queen
One of my mum’s prized possessions is the Queen Greatest Hits Vol. 2 music videos VHS tape, & when I was younger I loved to watch them all – bar Innuendo, which I found far too scary & still can’t listen to this day. But my favourite by far was I Want to Break Free, starring each member as a female in a family, with fake boobs, pigtails, fluffy slippers & all. Freddie Mercury pushing that Hoover with his bouffant hair, mini skirt & heels still sporting his moustache will be iconic always.
Formation by Beyoncé
Beyoncé is the Queen of many things, & with two ‘visual albums’ under her belt, music videos is one of them. It’s so hard to pick a favourite from her latest visual album Lemonade but Formation is brilliantly influential & so so so important. It’s about her heritage & her race, which in America is a constant target of racism. She references the Black Lives Matter movement & even features the mothers of Michael Brown, Eric Garner & Trayvon Martin – all who died at the hands of US police for no reason. Beyoncé is not only one of the worlds best entertainers, but one of the best influencers & spokeswoman for important issues too.
Transylvania by McFly
One of the rare McFly songs by bassist Dougie Poynter & has an amazing video filmed like an old school horror film. It’s a silent- movie style black & white video which is totally over dramatic & features the boys in big white wigs & gowns with powdered faces – Dougie plays Anne Boleyn.
Fancy by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
You can have your opinions on Azalea as an artist but you can’t deny that this Clueless themed music video is brilliant. With Clueless being one of the most iconic teen & fashion films of the nineties this homage to it was perfectly executed, from the set to the costumes to the scenes.
Telephone by Lady Gaga ft. Beyoncé
When this video came out I remember rushing home from school to my friends house so we could watch it & we thought it was amazing. It’s a three part video that’s nine minutes long, starting with Beyoncé busting Gaga out of prison & then going on a road trip in The Pussywagon truck from Kill Bill before killing everyone in a restaurant. The outfits are legendary American flag costumes & there’s an amazing dance sequence & all of it is just amazing but it’s Gaga & Beyoncé.
Madonna was queen of music videos – & she’s still pretty good now (look at her talking with sock puppets in Bitch I’m Madonna) but Vogue was the one that reached legendary status. It’s shot in black & white with Madonna very simply elegant & lots of attractive men posing – & it created a new dance movement known as ‘vogueing’. Madonna is the best for a reason.
Meat Loaf is renowned for being theatrical & he proves himself here in this Beauty & the Beast style story with Lorraine Crosby. It’s set in a big old castle where the ‘Beast’ is hiding himself from his ‘Beauty’, then there’s a floating chaise lounge & a whole lot of candles before they finally come together.
Night Changes by One Direction
The worlds biggest boyband with millions of fans who want to date them release a music video where it looks like you’re going on a date with each member. Harry takes you ice skating; you & Zayn go out for a fancy meal; Liam wins you prizes at a carnival; Niall hosts you at his home for cups of tea & bird games & Louis take you for a drive in the countryside. All the dates go horribly wrong, just to show you how fast the night can change – do you see what they did there?
Lego House by Ed Sheeran
Famed for not being really that present in his music videos, Ed Sheeran’s music video for Lego House may be his best video. In it, Harry Potter star Rupert Grint appears to play Sheeran, with his signature ginger hair & hoodies.
Those are my favourite music videos. The songs aren’t my favourite songs, but it’s the way a story was told in it that I love. I think I’d like to write & direct a music video some day – that would be really interesting.
What are your favourite music videos? Some friends on twitter have already joined in & offered their favourites so go send me more here.