The Best Video Music of the 80s and 90s

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The best music videos from the 1980s and 1990s. From Madonna to Nirvana, these are the videos that defined a generation.

The best music videos of the 80s

There were so many great music videos that came out in the 80s and 90s. Here are some of our favorites:

-A-ha, “Take on Me”
-Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
-Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
– Lionel Richie, “Hello”
– Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf”
– Madonna, “Like a Prayer”
– Guns N’ Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle”
– Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
– Pearl Jam, “Jeremy”

The best music videos of the 90s

The art of the music video reached its apex in the 1980s and ‘90s. MTV changed the world by introducing a new generation to music through the medium of television, and artists took advantage of the new platform to produce some truly iconic videos.

From Michael Jackson’s timeless Thriller to Nirvana’s game-changing Smells Like Teen Spirit, these are the best music videos of the 90s.

The best music videos of all time

There are countless great music videos from the 80s and 90s, but we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the best of the best. These videos represent some of the most innovative, influential and just plain fun music videos of all time.

Michael Jackson – Thriller (1983)
This groundbreaking video from the king of pop features zombies, werewolves and some of the most iconic dance moves of all time. It’s Thriller time!

A-ha – Take On Me (1984)
This video for the Norwegian pop band’s breakout hit features a beautiful animation/live action hybrid that tells the story of a girl who is drawn into a comic book world.

Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer (1986)
This stop motion extravaganza from one of Britain’s most talented musicians is everything you could want in a music video – creativity, artistry and FUN.

Beastie Boys – Sabotage (1994)
This homage to 70s cop shows is one of the most unforgettable videos of all time. It features the Beastie Boys as sleazy detectives who will stop at nothing to solve their latest case.

The 80s: A Decade of Music Videos

The 80s were a decade of big hair, big genres, and even bigger music videos. If you were a fan of pop, rock, or even R&B, there was a video for you. Here are some of the best music videos of the 80s.

The 1980s saw the rise of MTV and with it, the rise of the music video. Musicians began to produce more elaborate videos to accompany their songs and promote their albums. These videos often featured the musicians in fantasy or story-telling sequences that matched the tone of the song. The best music videos of the 80s were often those that told a story or conveyed a message along with the music.

Some of the most iconic music videos of the 80s include Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, which introduced many people to the concept of the music video as a short film; Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, which caused controversy with its religious imagery; and A-ha’s “Take On Me”, which used cutting-edge animation techniques to tell its love story.

Other notable 80s music videos include Prince’s “When Doves Cry”, David Bowie’s “China Girl”, Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf”, and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. These videos showcase the variety of styles that were popular in the 80s and demonstrate how influential music videos have become in popular culture.

The 90s: A Decade of Music Videos

The 1990s were an important decade for music videos. The advent of MTV in the early 80s popularized the concept of the music video, and by the 90s, videos had become an integral part of pop culture and the music industry. Many of the biggest stars of the decade got their start by starring in innovative and iconic music videos, and the genre reached new heights of popularity thanks to ground-breaking artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Nirvana.

The 90s were also a decade of change for music videos. The advent of new technologies like digital editing and CGI allowed directors to create more complex and visually arresting videos, while the rise of independent film-making gave rise to a new generation of talented directors who brought fresh ideas to the genre. As a result, music videos became more than just simple promotional tools – they became an art form in their own right, capable of conveying emotion, telling stories, and making statements about society and culture.

Some of the most memorable moments of the 90s came from music videos. Who could forget Madonna writhing around in a wedding dress in “Like a Prayer”? Or Michael Jackson moonwalking across our TV screens in “Billie Jean”? Or Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain smashing his guitar at the end of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? These are just a few examples of how music videos shaped our lives in the 90s – and continue to do so today.

The Evolution of Music Videos

In the early days of MTV, music videos were little more than promotional tools for artists to get their latest single in front of as many people as possible. But as the network began to take off in the early 1980s, music videos started to become cultural touchstones in their own right.

It wasn’t long before directors and producers began to experiment with different styles and genres, pushing the boundaries of what a music video could be. This experimentation led to some truly groundbreaking work, and the evolution of the music video as an art form.

In the 1980s, MTV ushered in a new era of visual media with its groundbreaking music videos. These videos were more than just promotional tools; they were cultural touchstones that helped define a generation. From Madonna’s provocative “Like a Prayer” video to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which set the standard for special effects-laden productions, the 1980s saw a marked increase in the ambition and artistry of music videos.

This trend continued into the 1990s, with even more ambitious and visually stunning music videos being produced. One such example is Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, which perfectly captured the raw energy and chaotic attitude of the grunge movement. Another is Radiohead’s “ Paranoid Android” video, which features a memorable stop-motion animation sequence that brings to life the song’s dark lyrics.

As we continue into the 21st century, it’s clear that the legacy of MTV’s pioneering music videos continues to influence artists and filmmakers alike. While there are many who decry the current state of popular music, there is no denying that today’s music videos are still pushing boundaries and expanding our ideas about what a music video can be.

The History of Music Videos

The history of the music video began with the release of The Beatles song “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964. The song, which was accompanied by a short film, was an instant hit and helped to popularize the concept of the music video.

In the 1970s, MTV rose to prominence as a leader in broadcasting music videos. This new platform helped to launch the careers of many artists, including Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince. MTV changed the way that people consumed music and brought new life to the genre of music videos.

In the 1980s and 1990s, music videos became increasingly popular and began to be seen as an art form in their own right. Artists like David Bowie, Queen, and Nirvana produced groundbreaking videos that pushed the boundaries of what was possible. These artists helped to define an era of music video history that is still remembered fondly today.

Music Videos and the Art of Storytelling

Music videos in the 80s and 90s were more than just music videos; they were often mini-movies, with complex storylines and characters. This was the era of the MTV generation, when music videos were must-see TV. Some of the most iconic music videos of all time were made during this period.

Here are some of the best story-driven music videos of the 80s and 90s:

1) Michael Jackson – Thriller (1983)
The king of pop changed the face of music videos forever with Thriller. This landmark video, directed by John Landis, is a 13-minute mini-movie that tells the story of a young couple who are terrorized by a zombie apocalypse. Thriller remains the most successful music video of all time, and its influence can still be felt today.

2) Madonna – Like a Prayer (1989)
Madonna was no stranger to pushing boundaries, and she did it again with her controversial video for Like a Prayer. The Vatican denounced the video, which features Madonna kissing a black saint and dancing in front of burning crosses, but it only made Madonna more popular. Like a Prayer is widely considered to be one of Madonna’s best songs, and its video is just as iconic.

3) Guns N’ Roses – November Rain (1992)
Guns N’ Roses took storytelling to new heights with their epic nine-minute video for November Rain. The video, which cost $1 million to make, is set at a glittering wedding that turns tragic when the bride is killed. November Rain remains one of Guns N’ Roses’ most popular songs, and its music video is still hailed as one of the greatest ever made.

4) Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
Nirvana’s anthemic song Smells Like Teen Spirit quickly became a Generation X anthem when it was released in 1991. The song’s accompanying video, which was directed by Samuel Bayer, captures the perfect mix of teenage angst and rebellion. Smells Like Teen Spirit remains one of Nirvana’s most beloved songs, and its iconic music video is still revered by fans today.

Music Videos: A Creative Outlet

The 1980s and 1990s were decades of creativity and innovation in the world of music videos. This was a time when directors and artists worked together to create some of the most memorable and influential videos of all time.

Today, we look back at some of the most iconic music videos from this era. These are the videos that defined a generation and continue to inspire artists and directors today.

The Power of Music Videos

Music videos became an important part of pop culture in the 80s and 90s. They were often used to promote a song or artist, and they sometimes told a story that related to the song. Music videos could be funny, dramatic, or just visually interesting. Many of them were very popular and well-loved, and some of them are still popular today.

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