Top 10 Behind the Scene Secrets about Iconic Music Videos

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Top 10 Behind the Scene Secrets about Iconic Music Videos

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Felix Quinonez
These behind the scenes secrets will blow your mind! For this list, we'll be looking at the stories behind the stories of some classic music videos. Our countdown includes Ariana Grande, Blink-182, Beyonce, and more!
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Top 10 Behind the Scene Secrets About Iconic Music Videos


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 behind the scene secrets about iconic music videos.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the stories behind the stories of some classic music videos.

So, let us know what you think, do these behind the scene secrets make you see the videos in a new light?

#10: “Thank U, Next” (2018)

Ariana Grande
Although evoking iconic films is hardly a new idea for music videos, this instantly classic song deployed the strategy perfectly. The clip takes visual cues from several teen movies of the 2000s, including “Mean Girls.” One of these visual callbacks was the Burn Book, first immortalized in the 2004 Lindsay Lohan film. However, the book wasn’t just for show; it played an essential role in the video’s narrative. Not only that, but Ariana personally wrote everything in the book, which contained tidbits about the relationships the song references. There are also a large number of cameos, notably Jennifer Coolidge. Given that both women are genuinely funny, it’s not surprising that their scene would be so entertaining. What is surprising is that their entire conversation was improv’d.

#9: “Music” (2000)

Madonna
Artists don’t become icons without putting in the work, and that’s something Her Madgesty has always understood. So, when the time came to promote the release of her album, Music, she wasn’t about to let a tiny detail like being pregnant get in the way of filming an iconic music video for the title track. In the clip, the legendary singer dons an oversized white fur coat and cowboy hat. However, the iconic outfit wasn’t just a fashion choice. It was strategically chosen to conceal the Material Mom’s pregnancy. The video also stars Sacha Baron Cohen, who, at the time, wasn’t as well known as he is now. Originally, the role was meant for Chris Rock, but the director had his sights set on Cohen.

#8: “Pop” (2001)

NSYNC
In 2001, NSYNC was on top of the world. Unfortunately, two days before filming the music video for their upcoming album’s lead single, Joey Fatone was seriously injured. During rehearsals, a 300-pound platform fell on top of his leg. However, when an album is as highly anticipated as this one, its release is a carefully orchestrated event with many moving parts—because of that, delaying the music video was not an option. So, instead of waiting for Joey to recover, they had the choreographer Wade Robson step in for Joey during the clip’s dance scenes. However, the singer didn’t need to feel left out because his face was superimposed on Wade Robson’s body!


#7: “We Belong Together” (2005)

Mariah Carey
Usually, when artists bring aspects of their personal lives into their work, it isn’t clothes. However, Mariah Carey didn’t become one of the world’s biggest divas by doing things like everybody else. So, when the time came to shoot a video for the second single off her album, “The Emancipation of Mimi”, the legendary singer wound up reaching into her closet for the clip’s wardrobe. In the video’s wedding scenes, Mariah Carey wears the dress she wore at her 1993 wedding to Tommy Mottola. The singer claims this was a simple matter of convenience since they didn’t have enough time to get a suitable dress. However, given the album’s title and the themes it explores, many speculated that there was more to this decision than she let on.

#6: “Fallin’” (2001)

Alicia Keys
The thing about first impressions is that you only get one. So, in an effort to get everything just right, the record label changed an essential aspect of Alicia Keys’ debut music video. Initially, the singer was going to portray the role of the criminal in the clip. However, the people in charge didn’t think that was the proper way to introduce the singer to the world. That’s why she instead plays the girlfriend of a man behind bars. The label’s decision resulted in a powerful clip, and it certainly didn’t hurt the song’s commercial success. However, it’s tempting to wonder what the original version would have looked like and how seeing the singer behind bars would have impacted the song’s meaning.

#5: “What’s My Age Again?” (1999)

Blink-182
Does anything capture the spirit of youthful rebellion more accurately than three guys streaking through crowded sidewalks? When this clip debuted in the spring of 1999, it was a perfect fit for MTV. It evoked a sense of danger in a way that made its target audience feel like they were somehow breaking the rules or seeing something they weren’t supposed to. However, it turns out that the band wasn’t actually naked in the music video. They wore flesh-colored Speedos to create the appearance of being nude. Although that doesn’t make the video less entertaining or in any way diminish the appeal of the pop-punk classic, it is a little disappointing. It almost feels like the punk rock version of discovering Santa isn’t real.

#4: “…Baby One More Time” (1999)

Britney Spears
This classic video manages to feel both iconic and intimately relatable. The image of a young Britney Spears daydreaming in class perfectly captures the restlessness and longing of youth. The larger-than-life melodrama feels apt because when you’re in high school, being noticed by your crush really does feel like a life-or-death situation. However, the level of authenticity was not extended to the casting of Britney’s love interest, who was played by… her real-life cousin! If the school looks familiar, that’s because “Grease” was also filmed there. The original plan was to put Britney in a cartoon environment. Fortunately, the singer nixed that idea and proposed a more grounded setting. Ultimately though, the most surprising fact might be that her iconic outfit was from Kmart and cost less than $17.

#3: “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (2008)

Beyoncé
Sometimes even the most straightforward concepts can have impressive results. If you were to describe this clip to someone who—for some reason—had never seen it, they might not be impressed. However, watching the singer and the two backup dancers perform the choreography is powerful, sensual, and even inspiring… We all know Kanye was a fan! Although it might not be shocking to learn that the choreography required practice, what is surprising is how long it took to get it right. Beyonce rehearsed for a month and a half to learn the moves. When it came time to shoot the video, they went through the routine 50 times. Because they were dancing so intensely, they broke several pairs of high heels. Now that’s dedication.

#2: “Take on Me” (1984)

A-ha
Some music videos are of their time, while others are timeless. This clip’s unique blend of hand-drawn animation and live-action footage was, understandably, an impressive technical feat when it debuted in 1985. However, almost four decades later, it still manages to feel and look modern. It should be no surprise that making this video required a lot of work. However, it took months to complete. The clip was shot in a café and soundstage in London. The hand-drawn images were brought to life one frame at a time by using a technique called rotoscoping. However, as iconic as this music video is, it wasn’t the song’s first. It originally had a simpler video that didn’t catch on, eventually becoming an obscure bit of trivia.

#1: “Thriller” (1983)

Michael Jackson
If there is one word that perfectly describes this classic music video, it would be: cinematic. In fact, the video was initially conceived as a film. That should be no surprise to anyone who's watched the clip. Everything about the music video feels like it belongs on the big screen. The video was directed by John Landis, an icon of the horror genre, and embraced horror film tropes. It used Hollywood-level special effects, and the clip even has a voice-over by the legendary actor Vincent Price. It was also the first music video to earn a place in the National Film Registry. Surprisingly enough, Ola Ray—a former playboy playmate—was cast as the singer's love interest after the original choice, Jennifer Beals, turned down the role.
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