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VMA VIDEO OF THE YEAR WINNERS

The MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year is the most prestigious competitive-award and final award handed out at the annual MTV Video Music Awards.

5.33/106 ratings
1984
You Might Think was a pioneer in music videos, one of the first to use computer graphics. It features a model who sees co-lead singer Ric Ocasek appear in several different bizarre incarnations, such as showing up in her mouth or as King Kong. It was the first winner of the MTV Video Music Award Video of the Year.
7.25/104 ratings
1984
Boys of Summer was Don Henley's big hit a few years after leaving The Eagles. The video pays homage to the French New Wave and shows a boy, a young man, and a full-grown adult remembering his past relationships. After it won VMA Video of the Year, Henley joked he won for "riding around in the back of a pickup."
6.5/104 ratings
1985
The groundbreaking music video introduced computer-animated humans to millions of real-life people. The characters sing about the music videos they watch on TV. It was the first video on MTV Europe in 1987 - Sting's background chorus of "I want my MTV" certainly influenced that decision. Not bad, considering lead singer Mark Knopfler didn't even want to make a music video in the first place.
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.
6/102 ratings
1988
This video combines two songs, "Need You Tonight" and "Mediate." "Need You Tonight" combines live-action and different kinds of animation in its video. "Mediate" segues into a tribute to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." The members flip cue cards with words from the song, followed by a Kirk Pengilly saxophone solo.
6.33/103 ratings
1988
Neil Young's song and video skewers musicians who "sold out" by doing beer commercials. (The title is a parody of Budweiser's "This Bud's For You" campaign) The video features Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston lookalikes. Legal threats from Jackson kept it off MTV initially, but the channel eventually aired it and gave it the year's highest honor at the VMAs.
8.56/109 ratings
1990
Nothing Compares 2 U was mainly shot in Paris and consists almost solely of a closeup on O'Connor's face as she sings the song's lyrics. Toward the end of the video, two tears roll down her face, one per cheek. It was the first video from a female artist to win Music Video of the Year at the VMAs.
8/107 ratings
1991
Losing My Religion begins with a brief sequence inside a dark room where water drips from an open window. A pitcher of milk drops from the windowsill and shatters, and the song begins. Director Tarsem Singh drew inspiration from the Italian painter Caravaggio and Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. The video is laden with religious imagery such as Saint Sebastian and Hindu deities, portrayed in a series of tableau.
5.5/102 ratings
1992
Right Now reflects on events that were occurring at the time, both in the band and the world around them. It uses big block letters to display sentences such as "right now, people are having unprotected sex" and "right now, someone is working too hard for minimum wage" to describe the footage in the background. This concept was used previously in videos like Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise."
9.38/108 ratings
1992
Jeremy incorporates rapid-fire editing and juxtaposition of sound, still images, graphics, and text elements with live-action sequences to create a collage effect. Actor Trevor Wilson portrayed Jeremy, is an angry, depressed boy who commits suicide in his classroom. The edited version led to misinterpretations that Jeremy kills his classmates, not himself.
8.2/105 ratings
1994
Cryin' features the first appearance of Alicia Silverstone in the band's videos. The song flashes back and forth between the band and Silvertone, who plays a teen who has a falling out with her boyfriend (played by Stephen Dorff) after catching him cheating.
8.86/107 ratings
1994
Waterfalls was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood and features the group standing in a pool as they sing the song. The video tackles the issues of drug dealing and HIV. The video won 4 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, making TLC the first African American group to win that award.
9.5/108 ratings
1996
Virtual Insanity features Jay Kay dancing and performing the song in a bright white room with a grey floor. The video earned recognition from critics for its special effects: the floor appears to move while the rest of the room stays still, allowing Kay to perform moves not typically seen in music videos.
8.86/107 ratings
1996
Tonight, Tonight draws inspiration from Georges Méliès's silent film A Trip to the Moon and other works by the French master. Actors Tom Kenny and Jill Talley star as a couple riding a Zepplin to the moon. On their colorful trip, they fight aliens, escape on a rocket, and meet a merman.
7.8/105 ratings
1998
Ray of Light is noted for its Koyaanisqatsi-inspired music video, featuring time-lapse images of daily life, from people riding a subway, ordering food, bowling, and children in a classroom to sped-up city-scapes and freeways at night. In most scenes, one person stares directly at the camera, while everyone else goes on with their daily lives.
7.8/105 ratings
1998
Doo Wop (That Thing) was filmed using a split-screen technique and features Hill performing at block parties in two different eras: the mid-1960s and the late-1990s. The video was filmed in Washington Heights, Manhattan. It won four 1999 MTV Video Music Awards: Best Female Video, Best R&B Video, Best Art Direction, and Video of the Year.
8.83/106 ratings
2000
The Real Slim Shady features Eminem performing the song in a psychiatric ward, a local Detroit neighborhood park, a fast-food joint, the Grammy Awards, and even a factory where multiple clones of the rapper are produced. The video also features cameo appearances by Dr. Dre, D12, Kid Rock, Fred Durst, Carson Daly, Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, and even a stuffed Bill the Cat doll.
8.13/108 ratings
2001
Lady Marmalade features all four performers in lingerie on Los Angeles sets built to resemble the actual Moulin Rouge night club around the turn of the century. The colorful, energetic video has become inseparable from the song itself. The videos used props and costumes from the movie Moulin Rogue! in which the song was featured.
7.86/107 ratings
2002
Without Me features Eminem and Dr. Dre as parodies of superheroes such as Batman, Robin, and Blade trying to save a child who bought a copy of The Eminem Show with a Parental Advisory sticker. Eminem impersonates Osama bin Laden, a TV ad salesman, Moby, and his own mother.
9.25/108 ratings
2002
The incredible video shows Missy Elliott and others dancing to her song. Missy dances in a dark fantasy playground in some scenes -- and is covered by (real!) bees in another. Timbaland and Tweet make cameos. The fast pace and good humor made this video Missy's most iconic.
8.38/108 ratings
2003
Hey Ya! is based on The Beatles' landmark appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, but sets the action in London. The television presenter, portrayed by Ryan Phillippe, tries to calm a crowd of screaming girls on a show being broadcast live in black-and-white. The band performs while the girls scream; one girl is carried off by security after rushing the stage, and another faints.
8.67/106 ratings
2004
Boulevard of Broken Dreams features the band members after their car has stalled in the desert, and they begin a melancholy walk down a dusty road. Scenes are interspersed with film footage taken from around Los Angeles of homeless people and other miserable circumstances. The video also features performance footage of the band playing the song in an abandoned warehouse.
8.2/105 ratings
2006
The band's first music video was an immediate winner. It tells the story of a wedding held at a circus. The bride's family sleeps through the ceremony, while the groom's family are circus folk. A fight breaks out, disrupting the wedding. Lead singer Brendon Urie stars are the ringmaster.
8/106 ratings
2007
Umbrella features Rihanna singing the song and dancing solo with an umbrella and with background dancers while sparks rain down on them. Scenes include a Rhianna covered with silver body paint and a CGI effect of water splashing on her. Jay-Z appears at the beginning of the video.
9/104 ratings
2007
Piece of Me features Spears and several other women getting ready to go out to a nightclub as the paparazzi stalk them. At the nightclub, Spears starts flirting with a man and guides him into the women's bathroom, where she discovers he has a hidden camera in his chest. This is followed by a dance sequence with Spears and the four women dancing in the bathroom.
9.38/108 ratings
2008
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) is shot in black and white and choreographed by JaQuel Knight. The video features Beyoncé as her alter ego Sasha Fierce, dancing against a plain white background with two female look-alike backup dancers. Towards the end of the video, she flashes her wedding ring that camouflages with her glove. It's one of the most iconic videos of all time.
8.75/108 ratings
2009
Bad Romance features Gaga inside a surreal white bathhouse where she gets kidnapped by a group of supermodels who drug her and sell her to the Russian mafia for sexual slavery. The music video ends with Gaga killing the man who bought her.
8.4/105 ratings
2010
Firework was filmed in Budapest and opens with Perry gazing down upon a city from a palatial balcony, singing into the night. Teenagers below struggle with fears and insecurities. Fireworks burst from inside Katy's body, inspiring young people throughout the city to ignite their own fireworks. One by one, the characters find the strength to do what they were afraid to do.
7.8/105 ratings
2011
Often compared to the film Trainspotting, We Found Love tells a story of sex, love, and drug use. Shot in Northern Ireland, the video was an internet sensation and garnered a thousand views for every parent who banned the video from their home.
6.33/103 ratings
2013
Justin Timberlake's grandparents and their 63-year-long marriage inspired this touching video. It follows a couple's lives, from the time they meet and fall in love, to their marriage, through growing old and facing death.
8.33/106 ratings
2013
Miley Cyrus permanently left her Disney image behind with the video for Wrecking Ball. Cyrus sings the song in close-up, a la Sinéad O'Connor in her video for Nothing Compares 2 U. In other scenes; she licks a sledgehammer and swings on a wrecking ball while wearing nothing but boots.
7.57/107 ratings
2015
The Bad Blood video is a neo-noir spy film that takes cues from Robocop and Sin City. Taylor Swift teams up with Selena Gomez and Hailee Steinfeld as part of a crime-fighting team.
8.71/107 ratings
2016
Formation was shot in New Orleans, Louisiana, and features references to Hurricane Katrina, antebellum, and Louisiana Creole culture, along with police brutality and racism. Julie Dash's 1991 film Daughters of the Dust inspired the look and feel of the video, which was part of her groundbreaking visual album Lemonade.
8.83/106 ratings
2017
The gorgeous video opens with Kendrick Lamar dressed in all white as the pope before putting him in all black lying on a pile of money. Full of symbolism and social commentary, the HUMBLE. video uses a fisheye lense and other techniques to create intensity.
7.25/104 ratings
2017
The song starts late, but the music video starts with Karla, played by Cabello, watching a telenovela, before being interrupted by her grandmother. Karla then leaves the house to see a movie. The film she is watching, called Camila in Havana, takes the form of a music video, starring a version of herself wearing a fringe-covered red dress and performing at a club.
7/103 ratings
2019
Swift's pro-LGBTQ video features many community members, including Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Porter, RuPaul, and Adam Lambert. It's set in a trailer part where bigots yell at LGBTQ people. It closes with a message asking people to sign a petition in favor of anti-discrimination legislation.
7.8/105 ratings
2020
The visual opens with the Weeknd laughing as blood drips down his face then jumps back in time to show the mayhem that led to this gruesome end — the pop star speeding around a deserted city, dancing gleefully in the streets. The visual follows the events of the music video for "Heartless" and sees the Weeknd go on a hallucinated joyride after waking from a trance.
5.33/106 ratings
1984
You Might Think was a pioneer in music videos, one of the first to use computer graphics. It features a model who sees co-lead singer Ric Ocasek appear in several different bizarre incarnations, such as showing up in her mouth or as King Kong. It was the first winner of the MTV Video Music Award Video of the Year.
7.25/104 ratings
1984
Boys of Summer was Don Henley's big hit a few years after leaving The Eagles. The video pays homage to the French New Wave and shows a boy, a young man, and a full-grown adult remembering his past relationships. After it won VMA Video of the Year, Henley joked he won for "riding around in the back of a pickup."
6.5/104 ratings
1985
The groundbreaking music video introduced computer-animated humans to millions of real-life people. The characters sing about the music videos they watch on TV. It was the first video on MTV Europe in 1987 - Sting's background chorus of "I want my MTV" certainly influenced that decision. Not bad, considering lead singer Mark Knopfler didn't even want to make a music video in the first place.
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.
6/102 ratings
1988
This video combines two songs, "Need You Tonight" and "Mediate." "Need You Tonight" combines live-action and different kinds of animation in its video. "Mediate" segues into a tribute to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." The members flip cue cards with words from the song, followed by a Kirk Pengilly saxophone solo.
6.33/103 ratings
1988
Neil Young's song and video skewers musicians who "sold out" by doing beer commercials. (The title is a parody of Budweiser's "This Bud's For You" campaign) The video features Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston lookalikes. Legal threats from Jackson kept it off MTV initially, but the channel eventually aired it and gave it the year's highest honor at the VMAs.
8.56/109 ratings
1990
Nothing Compares 2 U was mainly shot in Paris and consists almost solely of a closeup on O'Connor's face as she sings the song's lyrics. Toward the end of the video, two tears roll down her face, one per cheek. It was the first video from a female artist to win Music Video of the Year at the VMAs.
8/107 ratings
1991
Losing My Religion begins with a brief sequence inside a dark room where water drips from an open window. A pitcher of milk drops from the windowsill and shatters, and the song begins. Director Tarsem Singh drew inspiration from the Italian painter Caravaggio and Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. The video is laden with religious imagery such as Saint Sebastian and Hindu deities, portrayed in a series of tableau.
5.5/102 ratings
1992
Right Now reflects on events that were occurring at the time, both in the band and the world around them. It uses big block letters to display sentences such as "right now, people are having unprotected sex" and "right now, someone is working too hard for minimum wage" to describe the footage in the background. This concept was used previously in videos like Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise."
9.38/108 ratings
1992
Jeremy incorporates rapid-fire editing and juxtaposition of sound, still images, graphics, and text elements with live-action sequences to create a collage effect. Actor Trevor Wilson portrayed Jeremy, is an angry, depressed boy who commits suicide in his classroom. The edited version led to misinterpretations that Jeremy kills his classmates, not himself.
8.2/105 ratings
1994
Cryin' features the first appearance of Alicia Silverstone in the band's videos. The song flashes back and forth between the band and Silvertone, who plays a teen who has a falling out with her boyfriend (played by Stephen Dorff) after catching him cheating.
8.86/107 ratings
1994
Waterfalls was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood and features the group standing in a pool as they sing the song. The video tackles the issues of drug dealing and HIV. The video won 4 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, making TLC the first African American group to win that award.
9.5/108 ratings
1996
Virtual Insanity features Jay Kay dancing and performing the song in a bright white room with a grey floor. The video earned recognition from critics for its special effects: the floor appears to move while the rest of the room stays still, allowing Kay to perform moves not typically seen in music videos.
8.86/107 ratings
1996
Tonight, Tonight draws inspiration from Georges Méliès's silent film A Trip to the Moon and other works by the French master. Actors Tom Kenny and Jill Talley star as a couple riding a Zepplin to the moon. On their colorful trip, they fight aliens, escape on a rocket, and meet a merman.
7.8/105 ratings
1998
Ray of Light is noted for its Koyaanisqatsi-inspired music video, featuring time-lapse images of daily life, from people riding a subway, ordering food, bowling, and children in a classroom to sped-up city-scapes and freeways at night. In most scenes, one person stares directly at the camera, while everyone else goes on with their daily lives.
7.8/105 ratings
1998
Doo Wop (That Thing) was filmed using a split-screen technique and features Hill performing at block parties in two different eras: the mid-1960s and the late-1990s. The video was filmed in Washington Heights, Manhattan. It won four 1999 MTV Video Music Awards: Best Female Video, Best R&B Video, Best Art Direction, and Video of the Year.
8.83/106 ratings
2000
The Real Slim Shady features Eminem performing the song in a psychiatric ward, a local Detroit neighborhood park, a fast-food joint, the Grammy Awards, and even a factory where multiple clones of the rapper are produced. The video also features cameo appearances by Dr. Dre, D12, Kid Rock, Fred Durst, Carson Daly, Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, and even a stuffed Bill the Cat doll.
8.13/108 ratings
2001
Lady Marmalade features all four performers in lingerie on Los Angeles sets built to resemble the actual Moulin Rouge night club around the turn of the century. The colorful, energetic video has become inseparable from the song itself. The videos used props and costumes from the movie Moulin Rogue! in which the song was featured.
7.86/107 ratings
2002
Without Me features Eminem and Dr. Dre as parodies of superheroes such as Batman, Robin, and Blade trying to save a child who bought a copy of The Eminem Show with a Parental Advisory sticker. Eminem impersonates Osama bin Laden, a TV ad salesman, Moby, and his own mother.
9.25/108 ratings
2002
The incredible video shows Missy Elliott and others dancing to her song. Missy dances in a dark fantasy playground in some scenes -- and is covered by (real!) bees in another. Timbaland and Tweet make cameos. The fast pace and good humor made this video Missy's most iconic.
8.38/108 ratings
2003
Hey Ya! is based on The Beatles' landmark appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, but sets the action in London. The television presenter, portrayed by Ryan Phillippe, tries to calm a crowd of screaming girls on a show being broadcast live in black-and-white. The band performs while the girls scream; one girl is carried off by security after rushing the stage, and another faints.
8.67/106 ratings
2004
Boulevard of Broken Dreams features the band members after their car has stalled in the desert, and they begin a melancholy walk down a dusty road. Scenes are interspersed with film footage taken from around Los Angeles of homeless people and other miserable circumstances. The video also features performance footage of the band playing the song in an abandoned warehouse.
8.2/105 ratings
2006
The band's first music video was an immediate winner. It tells the story of a wedding held at a circus. The bride's family sleeps through the ceremony, while the groom's family are circus folk. A fight breaks out, disrupting the wedding. Lead singer Brendon Urie stars are the ringmaster.
8/106 ratings
2007
Umbrella features Rihanna singing the song and dancing solo with an umbrella and with background dancers while sparks rain down on them. Scenes include a Rhianna covered with silver body paint and a CGI effect of water splashing on her. Jay-Z appears at the beginning of the video.
9/104 ratings
2007
Piece of Me features Spears and several other women getting ready to go out to a nightclub as the paparazzi stalk them. At the nightclub, Spears starts flirting with a man and guides him into the women's bathroom, where she discovers he has a hidden camera in his chest. This is followed by a dance sequence with Spears and the four women dancing in the bathroom.
9.38/108 ratings
2008
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) is shot in black and white and choreographed by JaQuel Knight. The video features Beyoncé as her alter ego Sasha Fierce, dancing against a plain white background with two female look-alike backup dancers. Towards the end of the video, she flashes her wedding ring that camouflages with her glove. It's one of the most iconic videos of all time.
8.75/108 ratings
2009
Bad Romance features Gaga inside a surreal white bathhouse where she gets kidnapped by a group of supermodels who drug her and sell her to the Russian mafia for sexual slavery. The music video ends with Gaga killing the man who bought her.
8.4/105 ratings
2010
Firework was filmed in Budapest and opens with Perry gazing down upon a city from a palatial balcony, singing into the night. Teenagers below struggle with fears and insecurities. Fireworks burst from inside Katy's body, inspiring young people throughout the city to ignite their own fireworks. One by one, the characters find the strength to do what they were afraid to do.
7.8/105 ratings
2011
Often compared to the film Trainspotting, We Found Love tells a story of sex, love, and drug use. Shot in Northern Ireland, the video was an internet sensation and garnered a thousand views for every parent who banned the video from their home.
6.33/103 ratings
2013
Justin Timberlake's grandparents and their 63-year-long marriage inspired this touching video. It follows a couple's lives, from the time they meet and fall in love, to their marriage, through growing old and facing death.
8.33/106 ratings
2013
Miley Cyrus permanently left her Disney image behind with the video for Wrecking Ball. Cyrus sings the song in close-up, a la Sinéad O'Connor in her video for Nothing Compares 2 U. In other scenes; she licks a sledgehammer and swings on a wrecking ball while wearing nothing but boots.
7.57/107 ratings
2015
The Bad Blood video is a neo-noir spy film that takes cues from Robocop and Sin City. Taylor Swift teams up with Selena Gomez and Hailee Steinfeld as part of a crime-fighting team.
8.71/107 ratings
2016
Formation was shot in New Orleans, Louisiana, and features references to Hurricane Katrina, antebellum, and Louisiana Creole culture, along with police brutality and racism. Julie Dash's 1991 film Daughters of the Dust inspired the look and feel of the video, which was part of her groundbreaking visual album Lemonade.
8.83/106 ratings
2017
The gorgeous video opens with Kendrick Lamar dressed in all white as the pope before putting him in all black lying on a pile of money. Full of symbolism and social commentary, the HUMBLE. video uses a fisheye lense and other techniques to create intensity.
7.25/104 ratings
2017
The song starts late, but the music video starts with Karla, played by Cabello, watching a telenovela, before being interrupted by her grandmother. Karla then leaves the house to see a movie. The film she is watching, called Camila in Havana, takes the form of a music video, starring a version of herself wearing a fringe-covered red dress and performing at a club.
7/103 ratings
2019
Swift's pro-LGBTQ video features many community members, including Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Porter, RuPaul, and Adam Lambert. It's set in a trailer part where bigots yell at LGBTQ people. It closes with a message asking people to sign a petition in favor of anti-discrimination legislation.
7.8/105 ratings
2020
The visual opens with the Weeknd laughing as blood drips down his face then jumps back in time to show the mayhem that led to this gruesome end — the pop star speeding around a deserted city, dancing gleefully in the streets. The visual follows the events of the music video for "Heartless" and sees the Weeknd go on a hallucinated joyride after waking from a trance.

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