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BEST OF THE 1980s

The best music videos of the 1980s, as rated by users.

9.27/1011 ratings
1983
Michael Jackson's iconic video is one of the most well-known videos of the 80's. Directed by John Landis, who made An American Werewolf in London, the video references numerous horror movies and features Jackson dancing with zombies. It's a cultural landmark and was the first music video added to the National Film Registry.
8.9/1010 ratings
1986
Sledgehammer cleaned up at the VMAs, winning nine awards - still a record. The video uses a mix of animation styles, including claymation, pixilation, and stop motion. Peter Gabriel had to stay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming the video while animators moved objects above him, one frame at a time.
8.82/1011 ratings
1989
Like a Prayer is iconic for most, but controversial among many. It features actor Leon Robinson as Saint Martin de Porres, who some perceived as a black version of Christ. The video's use of Catholic iconography includes a scene where Madonna develops stigmata and includes cross-burning imagery. However, it also garnered praise for its interpretation of discrimination, rape, and faith.
8.67/103 ratings
1984
Van Halen's David Lee Roth covered the Beach Boys classic in 1985, and it propelled him into Billboard's Top 10 for the first time as a solo artist. Roth played a character named "Diamond Dave," who led tourists to bikini-clad women on a California beach. Beach Boy member Carl Wilson makes a cameo.
8.67/106 ratings
1984
When Doves Cry opens with white doves emerging from double doors to reveal Prince in a bathtub. It also includes scenes from the Purple Rain film interspersed with shots of the Revolution performing and dancing in a white room. The video's final portion incorporates a mirrored frame of the left half of the picture, creating a doubling effect.
8.36/1011 ratings
1985
Norwegian band A-ha had their biggest hit with their 1985 re-recording of Take On Me. The video combines pencil sketch animation with live-action, using rotoscoping techniques. It took about four months for animators to complete the four-minute video. The romantic fantasy shows a comic book character and a woman reading about him join each others' shared worlds.
8.33/106 ratings
1986
Walk This Way places Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. in a musical duel in neighboring studios before Tyler literally breaks through the wall that separates them. The video then segues to the bands' joint performance on stage. The highly popular video was the first rap hybrid video ever played in heavy rotation on MTV and is regarded as a classic of the medium.
8.25/104 ratings
1983
This quirky video for Cindy Lauper's breakout hit was made on an extremely low-budget. Lauper's brother, attorney, and secretaries from CBS made up most of the cast. Dan Akyroyd made a volunteer appearance as his SNL character Beldar Conehead. Lorne Michaels let Lauper use his digital editing equipment for free, helping to keep expenses down.
8.25/104 ratings
1987
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) is begins with Houston just finishing a performance onstage. She walks backstage, and the scene is intercut with more vivid, colorful images of her. The song then explodes into its beginning, with various locations and various outfits by Houston, as dancers trying to impress her as she dances around. The music video borrows from Flashdance, Grease, and Top Hat.
8.17/106 ratings
1983
Beat It opens in a diner/pool hall, where two men walk outside, and then the members of two warring gangs gather and march to a "rumble" inspired by the film West Side Story at a warehouse. Many of the participants in the video's dance sequences were actual street gang members, brought in to authenticate the look and feel of the piece.
8/106 ratings
1985
Director Jeff Stein made Alice in Wonderland the theme for this video. Actress Wish Foley plays Alice, who is cut up like a cake and eaten by Tom Petty and others. Future Vice President Al Gore's daughter saw the video and complained to her mom, who used it as a pretext to launch the Parents Music Resource Center - the group behind those infamous 'Parental Advisory' stickers.
8/102 ratings
1985
The surreal, epic video complements the 16-minute-long song. It became controversial for its graphic violence.
8/105 ratings
1989
Rhythm Nation is the final part of her long-form Rhythm Nation 1814 film and features rapid choreography within a post-apocalyptic warehouse setting. Jackson and her dancers adorned in black militant attire.
8/105 ratings
1985
The famous charity single raised over $60 million for humanitarian aid. Instantly recognizable and often parodied, the video showcases many celebrity musicians singing in a studio, as Quincy Jones conducts. Among them are Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Cydia Lauper... and the list goes on.
8/104 ratings
1987
Where the Streets Have No Name was filmed on the rooftop of a liquor store at East 7th Street and South Main Street in Los Angeles on March 27, 1987. Footage from this event includes the police shutting the surprise concert down due to traffic concerns. The stunt was viewed as an homage to The Beatles when they played their rooftop show on the roof of Apple Records in Savile Row.
8/104 ratings
1981
Once in a Lifetime features a bespectacled David Byrne dancing like a marionette. In the background, Byrne dances in perfect synchronization; in the foreground, a larger Byrne is getting further and further out of synch. The video is exhibited in the New York Museum of Modern Art.
8/103 ratings
1984
Private Dancer was filmed in The Rivoli Ballroom, London, and features Tina as a high-class prostitute who dreams about walking among other dancers.
8/103 ratings
1985
The music video uses rotoscoping and shows the band performing, overlaid with images of the First World War. This contrasts with the at-that-time very modern clip in the band's video for "Money for Nothing."
8/105 ratings
1989
Love Shack begins with the group arriving at the "Love Shack" in a car. Various characters are partying there, including a then-unknown RuPaul.
7.75/104 ratings
1980
Ashes to Ashes was, at the time, one of the most expensive music videos ever made. It features Bowie in a gaudy Pierrot costume and members of the London Blitz scene walking in front of a bulldozer. There are scenes of Bowie in a spacesuit and locked in a padded room. At the end of the video, an older woman is lecturing Bowie as they walk along the beach.
9.27/1011 ratings
1983
Michael Jackson's iconic video is one of the most well-known videos of the 80's. Directed by John Landis, who made An American Werewolf in London, the video references numerous horror movies and features Jackson dancing with zombies. It's a cultural landmark and was the first music video added to the National Film Registry.
8.9/1010 ratings
1986
Sledgehammer cleaned up at the VMAs, winning nine awards - still a record. The video uses a mix of animation styles, including claymation, pixilation, and stop motion. Peter Gabriel had to stay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming the video while animators moved objects above him, one frame at a time.
8.82/1011 ratings
1989
Like a Prayer is iconic for most, but controversial among many. It features actor Leon Robinson as Saint Martin de Porres, who some perceived as a black version of Christ. The video's use of Catholic iconography includes a scene where Madonna develops stigmata and includes cross-burning imagery. However, it also garnered praise for its interpretation of discrimination, rape, and faith.
8.67/103 ratings
1984
Van Halen's David Lee Roth covered the Beach Boys classic in 1985, and it propelled him into Billboard's Top 10 for the first time as a solo artist. Roth played a character named "Diamond Dave," who led tourists to bikini-clad women on a California beach. Beach Boy member Carl Wilson makes a cameo.
8.67/106 ratings
1984
When Doves Cry opens with white doves emerging from double doors to reveal Prince in a bathtub. It also includes scenes from the Purple Rain film interspersed with shots of the Revolution performing and dancing in a white room. The video's final portion incorporates a mirrored frame of the left half of the picture, creating a doubling effect.
8.36/1011 ratings
1985
Norwegian band A-ha had their biggest hit with their 1985 re-recording of Take On Me. The video combines pencil sketch animation with live-action, using rotoscoping techniques. It took about four months for animators to complete the four-minute video. The romantic fantasy shows a comic book character and a woman reading about him join each others' shared worlds.
8.33/106 ratings
1986
Walk This Way places Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. in a musical duel in neighboring studios before Tyler literally breaks through the wall that separates them. The video then segues to the bands' joint performance on stage. The highly popular video was the first rap hybrid video ever played in heavy rotation on MTV and is regarded as a classic of the medium.
8.25/104 ratings
1983
This quirky video for Cindy Lauper's breakout hit was made on an extremely low-budget. Lauper's brother, attorney, and secretaries from CBS made up most of the cast. Dan Akyroyd made a volunteer appearance as his SNL character Beldar Conehead. Lorne Michaels let Lauper use his digital editing equipment for free, helping to keep expenses down.
8.25/104 ratings
1987
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) is begins with Houston just finishing a performance onstage. She walks backstage, and the scene is intercut with more vivid, colorful images of her. The song then explodes into its beginning, with various locations and various outfits by Houston, as dancers trying to impress her as she dances around. The music video borrows from Flashdance, Grease, and Top Hat.
8.17/106 ratings
1983
Beat It opens in a diner/pool hall, where two men walk outside, and then the members of two warring gangs gather and march to a "rumble" inspired by the film West Side Story at a warehouse. Many of the participants in the video's dance sequences were actual street gang members, brought in to authenticate the look and feel of the piece.
8/106 ratings
1985
Director Jeff Stein made Alice in Wonderland the theme for this video. Actress Wish Foley plays Alice, who is cut up like a cake and eaten by Tom Petty and others. Future Vice President Al Gore's daughter saw the video and complained to her mom, who used it as a pretext to launch the Parents Music Resource Center - the group behind those infamous 'Parental Advisory' stickers.
8/102 ratings
1985
The surreal, epic video complements the 16-minute-long song. It became controversial for its graphic violence.
8/105 ratings
1989
Rhythm Nation is the final part of her long-form Rhythm Nation 1814 film and features rapid choreography within a post-apocalyptic warehouse setting. Jackson and her dancers adorned in black militant attire.
8/105 ratings
1985
The famous charity single raised over $60 million for humanitarian aid. Instantly recognizable and often parodied, the video showcases many celebrity musicians singing in a studio, as Quincy Jones conducts. Among them are Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Cydia Lauper... and the list goes on.
8/104 ratings
1987
Where the Streets Have No Name was filmed on the rooftop of a liquor store at East 7th Street and South Main Street in Los Angeles on March 27, 1987. Footage from this event includes the police shutting the surprise concert down due to traffic concerns. The stunt was viewed as an homage to The Beatles when they played their rooftop show on the roof of Apple Records in Savile Row.
8/104 ratings
1981
Once in a Lifetime features a bespectacled David Byrne dancing like a marionette. In the background, Byrne dances in perfect synchronization; in the foreground, a larger Byrne is getting further and further out of synch. The video is exhibited in the New York Museum of Modern Art.
8/103 ratings
1984
Private Dancer was filmed in The Rivoli Ballroom, London, and features Tina as a high-class prostitute who dreams about walking among other dancers.
8/103 ratings
1985
The music video uses rotoscoping and shows the band performing, overlaid with images of the First World War. This contrasts with the at-that-time very modern clip in the band's video for "Money for Nothing."
8/105 ratings
1989
Love Shack begins with the group arriving at the "Love Shack" in a car. Various characters are partying there, including a then-unknown RuPaul.
7.75/104 ratings
1980
Ashes to Ashes was, at the time, one of the most expensive music videos ever made. It features Bowie in a gaudy Pierrot costume and members of the London Blitz scene walking in front of a bulldozer. There are scenes of Bowie in a spacesuit and locked in a padded room. At the end of the video, an older woman is lecturing Bowie as they walk along the beach.

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