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Top 10 Saddest Music Videos

VO: Matt Campbell
Script written by Liam Hillery When you need to have a good cry, look no further than these videos. Just remember the tissue box. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Saddest Music Videos. We don't have particularly demanding criteria for this list, but just to be clear, we're counting down the saddest videos, not songs themselves. Special thanks to our users Nana Amuah or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Saddest Music Videos


When you need to have a good cry, look no further than these videos. Just remember the tissue box. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Saddest Music Videos.

We don’t have particularly demanding criteria for this list, but just to be clear, we’re counting down the saddest videos, not songs themselves. So even if a song has tear-jerking lyrics, if it doesn’t have a video to match you won’t see it here.

#10: “Take Me to Church” (2013)
Hozier

Considering this was Hozier’s first major label video release, one may have expected him to pursue a flashier spectacle. Instead, he stuck to the lyrical tone and its message of religious institutions rejecting natural facets of being human, specifically, love of all kinds. Shot in black and white, the video depicts a same-sex relationship shared between two men. When one of the men is outed, the community descends upon him with violence and hatred. They storm his house, take him captive, and torture him mercilessly. Tragically, his partner can only watch, as outing himself would mean the same fate. It highlights the sad reality of fear and hatred that many in the LGBT community face every day.

#9: “Little Motel” (2007)
Modest Mouse

This video begins brightly, greeting the viewer with a collage of blurry, flashing lights. It fades out to unveil they are the lights from a motel sign, and then moves inside to a loving mother tucking her son into bed. This initial positive tone is soon lost, as it is revealed the video is moving in reverse chronological order. As the song progresses, we learn true story of the mother and her boy, as the two spend their time driving around the streets of Reno. Ultimately, the video tears at your heart strings as it is revealed that the mother had taken her dying son out of the hospital to spend some final moments with him.

#8: “Wake Me Up When September Ends” (2005)
Green Day

Released in 2005, this 7-minute-long video grounded itself in the harsh reality of the War on Terror. It tells the story of a young couple in love, dedicated to one another, who are torn apart when the boyfriend enlists to go to war. The tragedy is that he does so out of love, putting his life on the line to keep his girlfriend safe. She’s left heartbroken, as he broke his vow to never leave her, and may die in battle. The video is intercut with scenes of the boyfriend in battle and his girlfriend quietly mourning in a field. Meant to promote free thought and peace, the video emphasizes the pain and suffering war inflicts on everyone.

#7: “Lazarus” (2015)
David Bowie

“Look up here, I’m In Heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” The first lines of this song assumed powerful meaning upon Bowie’s death just three days after the release of this video. The entire video assumes more importance when placed in the light of Bowie’s death, as it centers on the artist himself collapsed and trapped in his death bed. Moving slowly, the video presents a blindfolded Bowie, with buttons covering his eyes, frail and near death. It then rapidly switches back and forth between this feeble version of the artist, and the lively, dancing version audiences loved in his prime. Just before his death, we see a tragic Bowie, caught between cancer and the life he craves.

#6: “Stole” (2002)
Kelly Rowland

A song about loneliness, depression, and lost dreams, this video tracks the lives of three interconnected high school students. Opening with a young man descending the stairs of his house to see his sister with his distraught mother, who has a black eye, presumably after being beaten by his father. At school, he is overcome with depression and commits suicide in the bathroom. Fellow student Mary is overcome with grief at his death. An aspiring actress, her dreams are also crushed when she learns she is pregnant. Finally, the school’s basketball star is gunned down by a rival classmate. It’s a haunting portrayal of lives cut short and it’s a hard one to watch without tearing up.

#5: “The Ghost of You” (2005)
My Chemical Romance

Known for visually stunning and highly creative videos, My Chemical Romance raised their efforts to new heights with this war epic. They invested one million dollars and shot enough footage to make a movie in order to capture the right tone and message for their tragic ballad. Representing love, comradery, and loss, the video intercuts shots of the band at a USO dance, and as soldiers storming a beach. Deliberately paralleling the Omaha Beach Scene from Saving Private Ryan, we see the horrible devastation of war. The terrified faces of soldiers losing their innocence and lives in battle is haunting, and reminds the audience what is truly sacrificed and lost through war.

#4: “The Scientist” (2002)
Coldplay

This video is both beautifully sad and an astounding achievement in choreography. Presented in reverse narrative but also shot in reverse, it begins with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin lying on a mattress, seemingly in bliss, but tracks backwards to depict a tragic car accident. In order to make it appear like he is singing but still moving the narrative in reverse, Martin spent a month learning how to sing the lyrics backwards. The end result of his efforts is an aura of haunting surrealism, which culminates in the final tragic scene. Martin’s passenger is shown to unbuckle her seat belt just before the crash, ultimately causing her own death.

#3: “Hurt” (2003)
Johnny Cash

We all know Cash had his share of sad songs, but it’s this video for his cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” that may just stay with us forever. Cash and director Mark Romanek deliver a video that highlights the artist’s deteriorating health, as well as the wake of his career as it fades into memory. The video is set in Cash’s home and museum, The House of Cash, which is now derelict, run down and closed to the public. In the dark, abandoned house, Cash performs with heart as the video is intercut with footage of Cash as a younger man. With both he and his wife June Carter Cash dying within months of the video's release, it became an eerie tribute to the man himself.

#2: “Runaway Train” (1992)
Soul Asylum

With this video, Soul Asylum intended to shock audiences and bring to light the truly alarming and sad problems of runaway and abused children. Different versions of the video begin with different stats but the core of the video portrays several connected, tear jerking stories: a child who witnesses his grandmother beaten to death by his grandfather, a young girl who is pimped out, sold as a prostitute, and eventually kidnapped and gang raped, and a baby kidnapped from its stroller. These scenes are intercut with the photos and names of real children who have gone missing. It’s a moving video that reminds us of the many young, innocent children suffering in the world.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Untitled (How Could This Happen to Me?)” (2005)
Simple Plan

“Brenda’s Got a Baby” (1991)
Tupac Shakur

“Carry You Home” (2008)
James Blunt

“November Rain” (1992)
Guns N’ Roses

#1: “Wait For Me” (2010)
Moby

Taking place in an old-school video game and using the video game trope of “lives”, “Wait for Me” depicts the day of a normal man who loses health with every bad situation he finds himself in. The video begins with a silent breakfast in his loveless marriage, a trip through the monotony of his life to his boring white collar job, where he is fired by a heartless boss. Following this, he’s beat up and left by his wife. Finally, the nameless man takes his own final life and chooses to exit the game rather than play again. Ultimately, it’s this character's normal, utterly unremarkable life that is tragically sad.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the saddest music video out there? For more compelling top 10’s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com
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