For years the music industry has used videos as a way to promote albums and bands, and in the 80’s this media tool increased in popularity and creativity. Whether it’s animation or live action, these marketing tools have become go-to ways for bands to express themselves. They combine stunning visuals to ear-catching lyrics, while providing a little something extra for the fans.
Up next are 16 videos that were innovative at the time they were released and still rock today.
Aerosmith – Crazy
Aerosmith has many great songs and even better videos. Crying, Dream On, and Janie’s Got a Gun just to name a few. It was difficult to choose which song should make the list, but Crazy has a lot to offer. From the undertone of lady-love between Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler, to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it penis shot of a farmer… This story of a woman driving a man crazy is a classic one.
Beastie Boys – Sabotage
This Spike Jonze directed parody pays homage to the classic 1970 crime series that were popular at the time and is stylized as the opening credits of a fictional cop drama. The song itself was released as the first single from the album III Communication and has been recognized as one of the greatest songs of all time.
Blink 182 – All the Small Things
This was one of Blink’s most successful songs. It was written by guitarist Tom DeLonge for his then girlfriend (now wife), as an ode to the Ramones. Regarding the video, DeLonge said,
We want to do a video that’s like, directly like a boy band video, because we figure we’re just as hot and we look good wet and we dance and we can fit in tight clothes just like everyone else, you know?.
And they did just that.
Foo Fighters – All My Life
Learn to Fly, Monkey Wrench, Wheels, and Walking After You are just some of the songs that displays the greatness that is the Foo Fighters. Needless to say it was nearly impossible to choose just one video. All My Life is directed by the extremely talented Dave Grohl and it’s simple, straight forward, and set in L.A… You can’t go wrong with that.
Side note: You see that stadium in the video? The Forum? Yeah, Foo Fighters will be there in October and I hope you have tickets… I know I do. #cantflippingwait.
Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends
Directed by Samuel Bayer, this video adds to Green Day’s anti-war sentiment threaded across their album American Idiot. In the video, a young couple in love is faced with heartache when the boyfriend decides to enlist in the US Marine Corps… and in the end shows the pain of losing loved ones due to the war.
Johnny Cash – Hurt
This video of his cover of NIN’s song chronicles a dying Johnny Cash’s life. Directed by Mark Romanek (who also did Closer by Nine Inch Nails), Johnny gives his all in both song and video. It’s haunting. It’s moving. And for many, it’s unforgettable.
Korn – Freak on a Leash
From cartoon to live action and back, this video shows Korn rocking out while following the path of a bullet traveling the city. Based on the cartoon characters displayed on the band’s album cover for Follow the Leader, this is Korn’s most iconic video.
Muse – Knights Of Cydonia
Before Cowboys and Aliens there was the Knights of Cydonia. Featuring everything from robots to unicorns, this video has it all… even a love story and Star Wars-esque laser beams. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this mini futuristic-western short.
Nine Inch Nails – Closer
So a friend asked me, “How does this video make you feel…?” My answer, “Closer to God.” And that’s all I have to say about that…
…. Oh yeah, and it kinda freaks me out.
Why pick one… when you can pick two?
Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box
This religious icon styled video is good and freaky. Fetuses hanging from trees, children dressed like KKK members, and an old man in a Santa Claus hat tied to a cross… This video is definitely visually stimulating… to put it lightly.
Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band—or at least a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard. — Kurt Cobain talking about writing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine
What goes with pop?
Cheerleaders and a grunged out pep rally, of course.
OK Go – Here It Goes Again
What can I say about one of the first viral music videos? It’s four guys doing a choreographed dance on moving treadmills. Need I say more?
Red Hot Chili Peppers-Show Me Your Soul
It was almost impossible to choose just one RHCP video. From Californication to Give It Away, they are known for their unique style. When it came to picking out a vid, I asked a fan (Zed, Echo Park) who recommended this because of their notable dance moves… and I agreed – because it’s in the most famous movie about prostitution… Pretty Woman.
Run-D.M.C. & Aerosmith - Walk This Way
Infusing rock and hip hop, this video makes the list because it was the first of its kind. Ranked as one of the greatest songs of all time, this video actually only features Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Areosmith as well as Run D.M.C… the others couldn’t make it.
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Jack White. Meg White. Red, black, and white. A video that keeps the focus on the music while adding trippy visuals.
A-Ha – Take On Me
Like Korn’s Freak on a Leash this vid pairs (pencil-sketch) animation with live-action. The only difference? This Steve Barron directed video was the first of its kind. It’s memorable and ground breaking and an instant classic.
Julia, this is for you.