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YARDBARKER'S MOST INFLUENTIAL MUSIC VIDEOS OF ALL TIME

Entertainment news website Yardbarker released its list of the 25 most influential music videos of all time in 2020.

Subterranean Homesick Blues

1965
Subterranean Homesick Blues is one of the first "modern" promotional film clips, the music video's forerunner. The original clip was the opening segment of D. A. Pennebaker's film, Dont Look Back, a documentary on Bob Dylan's first tour of England in 1965. In the film, Dylan, who came up with the idea, holds up cue cards for the audience, with selected words and phrases from the lyrics.
6.67/103 ratings

Bohemian Rhapsody

1975
The video's opening scene is one of the most memorable in music history and is the first thing most people picture when they think of the band. It took only four hours to film the video and five to edit it - it was shipped to BBC for air that same week.
8/107 ratings

Video Killed the Radio Star

1979
Video Killed the Radio Star was the first to be shown on MTV when the music channel debuted in 1981. On February 27, 2000, it also became the millionth video to be aired on MTV. Hans Zimmer can be seen playing a keyboard. Debi Doss and Linda Jardim, who provided the female vocals for the song, can also be seen in the video.
8.75/104 ratings

Ashes to Ashes

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.
7.75/104 ratings

Once in a Lifetime

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.
8/104 ratings

Hungry Like the Wolf

1982
Hungry Like the Wolf features shots of jungles, rivers, elephants, cafes, and marketplaces, evoking the atmosphere of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was released together with Girls on Film in 1983, and won the first-ever Grammy Award for Music Video of the Year.
7.5/104 ratings

Billie Jean

1983
Bille Jean loosely followed the song's narrative. It features Jackson as a lonely, elusive figure walking the streets while the ground glowed wherever he stepped, suggesting Jackson's stardom and fame. A trenchcoated "stalker," possibly a journalist, pursues Jackson, supposedly to get the scoop on the titular love-interest, missing his opportunity when Jackson seemingly vanishes beneath glowing bedsheets with his never-seen mystery lover.
7.75/104 ratings

Beat It

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.
8.17/106 ratings

Rockit

1983
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock became a household name with the synthesizer-heavy single Rockit. The music video keys in on the song's futuristic vibe, featuring robots dancing to music in a virtual London house. Hancock himself appears only on a TV inside the video.
6.5/106 ratings

Thriller

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.
9.27/1011 ratings

Borderline

1984
In this video, Madonna is a colorful street girl, toying with one of the boys. A photographer is interested in her, and she lets him take pictures while she sipped champagne. However, Madonna quickly gets bored and tries to win back the heart of her boyfriend.
6.75/104 ratings

Money for Nothing

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.
6.5/104 ratings

Take On Me

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.
8.36/1011 ratings

Sledgehammer

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.
8.9/1010 ratings

Welcome to the Jungle

1987
Welcome to the Jungle begins with a shot of Axl Rose disembarking a bus in New York. Slash can be seen briefly, sitting against a wall and drinking from a clear glass bottle in a brown paper bag. He watches clips of the band on TVs through a store window. By the end of the video, Axl has transformed into a city punk, wearing the appropriate clothing, after going through a process similar to the Ludovico technique.
7.25/104 ratings

Like a Prayer

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.
8.82/1011 ratings

Nothing Compares 2 U

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.
8.56/109 ratings

Smells Like Teen Spirit

1991
Smells Like Teen Spirit's video features a school concert ends in anarchy and riot. Inspiration was taken from Jonathan Kaplan's 1979 movie Over the Edge, as well as the Ramones film Rock 'n' Roll High School. Cobain disliked Bayer's final edit and personally oversaw a re-edit of the video that resulted in the version finally aired
8.55/1011 ratings

Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang

1992
The music video, directed by Dr. Dre, shows him and Snoop Dogg at a block party. They drink, enjoy a cookout, and party with women. The video ends with Dre dropping Snoop off back at his house, with Snoop staggering up the driveway.
7.5/104 ratings

Sabotage

1993
Sabotage is an homage and parody of 1970s crime drama television series like Hawaii Five-0, The Streets of San Francisco, S.W.A.T., Baretta, and Starsky and Hutch. In the video, the band members appear as the show's characters. Each band member is introduced as a fictional actor and the character he plays.
9.22/109 ratings

Buddy Holly

1994
Buddy Holly features Weezer performing at the original Arnold's Drive-In diner from Happy Days. The video combined contemporary footage of the band with clips from the show. Happy Days cast member Al Molinaro made a cameo appearance in the video. Al plugs his hometown, Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the introduction.
8/108 ratings

Wannabe

1996
Wannabe features the group running, singing, dancing, and creating mischief at an eccentric bohemian party at the Midland Grand Hotel in St Pancras, London. Among their antics is Chisholm's back handspring on one of the tables. Each of the girls' personalities are introduced in this lively video that put the Spice Girls on the map.
8.67/106 ratings

The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

1997
This is the video that helped put Missy on the map. The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) features cameos from Timbaland, Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George of SWV, Yo-Yo, Lil' Kim, Total, 702, Da Brat, Lil' Cease, and Sean Combs.
7.6/105 ratings

…Baby One More Time

1998
The video begins with Spears appearing bored in class at a Catholic high school. When the bell rings, Spears runs out into the hall and begins a choreographed dance. She dances in different outfits inside and outside the school. The video ends revealing the whole thing was Spears' daydream.
8.2/105 ratings

Here It Goes Again

2006
Here It Goes Again features an elaborate performance of the band dancing on eight treadmills, arranged in two rows of four and alternating opposite directions, in a single continuous take.
8.78/109 ratings

Subterranean Homesick Blues

1965
Subterranean Homesick Blues is one of the first "modern" promotional film clips, the music video's forerunner. The original clip was the opening segment of D. A. Pennebaker's film, Dont Look Back, a documentary on Bob Dylan's first tour of England in 1965. In the film, Dylan, who came up with the idea, holds up cue cards for the audience, with selected words and phrases from the lyrics.
6.67/103 ratings

Bohemian Rhapsody

1975
The video's opening scene is one of the most memorable in music history and is the first thing most people picture when they think of the band. It took only four hours to film the video and five to edit it - it was shipped to BBC for air that same week.
8/107 ratings

Video Killed the Radio Star

1979
Video Killed the Radio Star was the first to be shown on MTV when the music channel debuted in 1981. On February 27, 2000, it also became the millionth video to be aired on MTV. Hans Zimmer can be seen playing a keyboard. Debi Doss and Linda Jardim, who provided the female vocals for the song, can also be seen in the video.
8.75/104 ratings

Ashes to Ashes

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.
7.75/104 ratings

Once in a Lifetime

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.
8/104 ratings

Hungry Like the Wolf

1982
Hungry Like the Wolf features shots of jungles, rivers, elephants, cafes, and marketplaces, evoking the atmosphere of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was released together with Girls on Film in 1983, and won the first-ever Grammy Award for Music Video of the Year.
7.5/104 ratings

Billie Jean

1983
Bille Jean loosely followed the song's narrative. It features Jackson as a lonely, elusive figure walking the streets while the ground glowed wherever he stepped, suggesting Jackson's stardom and fame. A trenchcoated "stalker," possibly a journalist, pursues Jackson, supposedly to get the scoop on the titular love-interest, missing his opportunity when Jackson seemingly vanishes beneath glowing bedsheets with his never-seen mystery lover.
7.75/104 ratings

Beat It

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.
8.17/106 ratings

Rockit

1983
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock became a household name with the synthesizer-heavy single Rockit. The music video keys in on the song's futuristic vibe, featuring robots dancing to music in a virtual London house. Hancock himself appears only on a TV inside the video.
6.5/106 ratings

Thriller

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.
9.27/1011 ratings

Borderline

1984
In this video, Madonna is a colorful street girl, toying with one of the boys. A photographer is interested in her, and she lets him take pictures while she sipped champagne. However, Madonna quickly gets bored and tries to win back the heart of her boyfriend.
6.75/104 ratings

Money for Nothing

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.
6.5/104 ratings

Take On Me

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.
8.36/1011 ratings

Sledgehammer

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.
8.9/1010 ratings

Welcome to the Jungle

1987
Welcome to the Jungle begins with a shot of Axl Rose disembarking a bus in New York. Slash can be seen briefly, sitting against a wall and drinking from a clear glass bottle in a brown paper bag. He watches clips of the band on TVs through a store window. By the end of the video, Axl has transformed into a city punk, wearing the appropriate clothing, after going through a process similar to the Ludovico technique.
7.25/104 ratings

Like a Prayer

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.
8.82/1011 ratings

Nothing Compares 2 U

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.
8.56/109 ratings

Smells Like Teen Spirit

1991
Smells Like Teen Spirit's video features a school concert ends in anarchy and riot. Inspiration was taken from Jonathan Kaplan's 1979 movie Over the Edge, as well as the Ramones film Rock 'n' Roll High School. Cobain disliked Bayer's final edit and personally oversaw a re-edit of the video that resulted in the version finally aired
8.55/1011 ratings

Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang

1992
The music video, directed by Dr. Dre, shows him and Snoop Dogg at a block party. They drink, enjoy a cookout, and party with women. The video ends with Dre dropping Snoop off back at his house, with Snoop staggering up the driveway.
7.5/104 ratings

Sabotage

1993
Sabotage is an homage and parody of 1970s crime drama television series like Hawaii Five-0, The Streets of San Francisco, S.W.A.T., Baretta, and Starsky and Hutch. In the video, the band members appear as the show's characters. Each band member is introduced as a fictional actor and the character he plays.
9.22/109 ratings

Buddy Holly

1994
Buddy Holly features Weezer performing at the original Arnold's Drive-In diner from Happy Days. The video combined contemporary footage of the band with clips from the show. Happy Days cast member Al Molinaro made a cameo appearance in the video. Al plugs his hometown, Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the introduction.
8/108 ratings

Wannabe

1996
Wannabe features the group running, singing, dancing, and creating mischief at an eccentric bohemian party at the Midland Grand Hotel in St Pancras, London. Among their antics is Chisholm's back handspring on one of the tables. Each of the girls' personalities are introduced in this lively video that put the Spice Girls on the map.
8.67/106 ratings

The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

1997
This is the video that helped put Missy on the map. The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) features cameos from Timbaland, Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George of SWV, Yo-Yo, Lil' Kim, Total, 702, Da Brat, Lil' Cease, and Sean Combs.
7.6/105 ratings

…Baby One More Time

1998
The video begins with Spears appearing bored in class at a Catholic high school. When the bell rings, Spears runs out into the hall and begins a choreographed dance. She dances in different outfits inside and outside the school. The video ends revealing the whole thing was Spears' daydream.
8.2/105 ratings

Here It Goes Again

2006
Here It Goes Again features an elaborate performance of the band dancing on eight treadmills, arranged in two rows of four and alternating opposite directions, in a single continuous take.
8.78/109 ratings

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