1. Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965, Bob Dylan) Bob Dylan’s legendary ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues‘ promotional music clip– the precursor to the modern music video – is probably one of the least expensive and most influential music videos of all time. A poster child of the mid-1960s youth, a long-faced Dylan holds up cue cards of the song’s lyrics filled with subliminal errors, jokes and innuendos. The film clip and its concept have been popularly imitated or inspired by a number of artists including Anti-Flag and Belle & Sebastian.
2. Strawberry Fields Forever (1967, The Beatles) Like many artists in the mid-60s, The Beatles began making promotional music clips. However, ’Strawberry Fields Forever‘ revolutionised the business in 1967 by including several cinematographic techniques from avant-garde films of the time, including colour filtering, fade out, slow motion and unusual camera angles. Using these effects, portraits of each Beatle’s face are layered over a shot of the group singing around a piano in the field. John Lennon successfully hops up on a tree branch from the ground and at the song's climax, the colours become reversed for that one-of-a-kind groovy feeling.
3. Video Killed the Radio Star (1979, The Buggles) One of the most significant music videos in the history of music will forever be ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’. In the futuristic style of the late 1970s, footage of the band performing is mixed with shots of radios blowing up. Children shif their attention towards talking screens, signaling the end of the radio generation. Appropriately titled and performed, 'Video Killed the Radio Star' was the very first music video to shown on MTV when it aired on August 1, 1981.
4. Thriller (1983, Michael Jackson) Although it’s more like a short film at just under 14 minutes, ‘Thriller’ has had a tremendous affect on international pop culture. It was one of the first music videos to combine filmmaking and music, and it is often cited as the greatest music video ever made. Michael Jackson’s red jacket, zombie face and smooth moves have produced more spoofs, remakes and parodies than perhaps any other music video persona ever. Even people who have never seen ‘Thriller’ can recognize the moves from dance parties, films and an endless list of pop culture references.
5. Vogue (1990, Madonna) After releasing music videos like ‘Material Girl’ and ‘Like a Virgin,’ Madonna came out with the video that launched her into official pop icon status: ‘Vogue.’ Completely filmed in black and white, the video emulates the old Hollywood look with a 1990s Art Deco spin. Many of the scenes are recreations of photographs of old Hollywood vixens. Madonna proved that even underneath the million bangles, pounds of makeup and lace, there was an elegant, sensual and confident core to her.
6. November Rain (1992, Guns N' Roses) The iconic narrative of 'November Rain' made this music video a favourite throughout the 90s. Not only did it win Best Cinematography at the MTV Video Music Awards, but it was # 1 on the MTV’s list of top 100 videos of that year. The video features Axl and then-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour getting married with alternating shots of Guns N' Roses in a live performance. The nostalgic visuals of the big hair, Seymour ’s sexy wedding dress and Slash playing his solo are a picture frozen in time of Guns N' Roses at their peak.
7. Buddy Holly (1995, Weezer) 'Buddy Holly' is arguably music video director legend Spike Jonze’s most iconic video to date. Shot at the original Arnold ’s Drive-In diner from the popular 70s show Happy Days , the video cuts between shots of Weezer performing live with parts of the old-school show. During the climax, a stunt man shows Fonzie dancing to the band’s performance. That year, the video went on to win four awards at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Breakthrough Video and Best Alternative Video.
8. Just (1995, Radiohead) Radiohead has long set up a legacy of great music videos, but who could stop talking about 'Just' when it came out? Everyone wanted to know what on earth that man stubbornly lying on the pavement mumbled during the song’s climax– the thing that made everyone else in the curious crowd lie down too. Radiohead still has yet to reveal what the man said, although endless personal theories have developed over the years.
9. A Million Ways to Be Cruel (2005, Ok Go) It was Ok Go’s irresistibly adorable homemade music video shot in their backyard that single-handedly rocketed this band to fame. The silly but oh-so-slick moves of the four members were choreographed by the lead singer’s sister, and made viewers’ hearts melt. Within a few months, the video became the most downloaded music video ever, leading to a series of live performances of the choreographed show.
10. Single Ladies (2009, Beyoncé) When Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ music videos hit airwaves, you would have had to be under a rock in the middle of nowhere not see it or one of its many spoofs. The video is simply Beyoncé and two backup dancers in black leotards with incredibly sexy dance moves that were popularly parodied by Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live and sparked flash mob dances all over Europe. The video won Best Choreography and Video of the Year at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.