Top 20 Artists With The Best Music Videos

RELATED VIDEOS

Share

Top 20 Artists With The Best Music Videos

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
These musical artists rock! Sorry, we had to. For this list, we'll be looking at artists who put out groundbreaking, boundary-pushing music videos throughout their careers. Our countdown includes BTS, David Bowie, Kanye West, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, and more!
Transcript

Top 20 Artists With The Best Music Videos


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Artists With The Best Music Videos.

For this list, we’ll be looking at artists who put out groundbreaking, boundary-pushing music videos throughout their careers. We’ll also be focusing on videos for individual songs, as opposed to full-length concept films like “Pink Floyd – The Wall.”

Let us know in the comments which artist’s videography is your favorite, and if there are any we missed.



#20: The Weeknd


Despite his background as a musician, our first artist is just as much of a film buff. Citing famous directors like David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick as inspirations, The Weeknd treats every music video like he’s campaigning for an Oscar. “After Hours,” one of his best albums to date, was even named after a Martin Scorcese film. All of the album’s music videos tell a story in order, with the saga’s high point, “In Your Eyes,” paying homage to ‘80s slasher films. The Weeknd is just getting started, and we can expect much more cinematic greatness in the future.

#19: Björk


The voice and music of Björk may not appeal to all, but her mind-bending music videos will surely provide something you’ve never seen before. After exiting Icelandic band the Sugarcubes, Björk teamed up with some of the most admired directors of our time, including “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” director Michel Gondry who created the singer’s debut video “Human Behaviour”. Considering the surrealistic nature of such a film and those of frequent collaborator Spike Jonze, it’s not hard to see why Björk was drawn to such talent, and vice versa, as a truly original video will challenge our perceptions and dwell in our subconscious.



#18: Katy Perry


We can always count on our favorite California girl to deliver a fun video concept. Whether she’s romping through adult Candyland or ancient Egypt, Katy Perry’s music videos are vibrant and full of humor. She’s also no stranger to alter egos: “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” saw her as the nerdy Kathy Beth Terry, and she portrayed an alien in “E.T.” Two of her videos, “Dark Horse” and “Roar,” have over three billion views, making them some of the most-viewed female music videos. Ever cartoonish and campy, Katy’s bubbly personality shines through in every video she releases.



#17: BTS


The numbers don’t lie—the Korean boy band has consistently released blockbuster music videos. BTS has exponentially increased the rankings of their Army, thanks to their blend of vivid colors and energetic choreography. Skeptics should look no further than “Blood Sweat & Tears”: the six-minute video takes place inside a museum, teeming with symbolism and gorgeous set pieces. Their breakout U.S. hit “Dynamite” also deserves special mention for its stunning pastel visuals, signaling a triumphant English-language crossover. Regularly breaking YouTube’s viewership records with each new video, BTS shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.



#16: My Chemical Romance


Of all the 2000s pop punk bands, MCR’s videography has quite possibly aged the best. Their biggest album,“The Black Parade,” is a full-on rock opera, and, like “The Wall” before it, has the visuals to match. With lyrics telling the story of a cancer patient’s life and death, each single’s music video is equally as dramatic as its parent album. The bittersweet title track follows the Patient lying on his deathbed in the hospital, before being whisked away to the Black Parade, a metaphor for death. Another fan favorite video, “Teenagers,” was directed by Marc Webb, who would go on to direct Andrew Garfield’s “Amazing Spider-Man” movies. Given their videos’ epic scope, My Chemical Romance was the perfect warm-up.



#15: Missy Elliott


She may have worn a trash bag, but this emcee’s videos are nothing but treasure. Throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s, Missy Elliott used fashion, choreography, and her signature sense of humor to break barriers in her videos. She unveiled her iconic garbage bag look in “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” and even covered her face with living bees for “Work It.” The latter video also features a young Alyson Stoner, tributes to Aaliyah and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and many a visual gag. Thanks to regular cameos from her friends like Timbaland, Tweet, and Da Brat, Missy makes every one of her music videos feel like a party.

#14: David Bowie


The British rocker was already a legend without the help of MTV, but he seamlessly adapted to the new landscape. After middling success in the late ‘70s, Bowie made a big comeback in 1980 with “Ashes to Ashes.” Dabbling in the New Romantic aesthetic, the song’s video went down in history as one of Bowie’s best. With his colorful imagery and epic mythology, he was the perfect candidate to show the new crowd how it was done. Bowie continued releasing music videos until his passing in 2016, filming “Lazarus” the same week he was told his cancer was terminal. Continuing to create music videos until his final days, Bowie truly had a passion for the art form that’s been immortalized forever.



#13: Kanye West


Whatever your opinion of him, Kanye undeniably has an epic roster of music videos. His collaborations with director Hype Wiliams, such as “Gold Digger,” put him on the map, and he’s also directed his own videos. West’s magnum opus is undoubtedly “Runaway,” where he admits to his ego problem while surrounded by ballerinas. There are four different cuts of the video, including a 35-minute short film. Many of Kanye’s videos have become memes, and he often uses the medium to create or respond to drama. He isn’t afraid to shock or disturb, as long as it leads to a compelling visual statement.



#12: Eminem


Perhaps better than anyone on our list, Slim Shady bounces effortlessly between the silly and serious. Eminem best shows off his comedic chops in the “Without Me” video, where he portrays Rap Boy, his superhero alter ego. The video, which was shot as a live-action comic book, is packed with detail and warrants multiple viewings to catch everything. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, he’s also explored harmful relationships with “Stan” and “Love the Way You Lie.” The latter, which starred Dominic Monaghan and Megan Fox, caused particular controversy for its violent imagery. All in all, Eminem has used his music videos to transcend the medium of rap and become a storyteller.



#11: Daft Punk


This innovative French house duo never passed up the chance to make a surreal music video. While “Around the World” is admittedly one of Daft Punk’s more repetitive songs, the video is anything but. Robots, mummies, and skeletons dance mechanically over the beat, almost as if in a trance. According to its director, Michel Gondry, each type of character and their movements represents an instrument used in the song. As for another huge hit, “One More Time,” the video was a sci-fi anime that would later become the film “Interstella 5555.” Even at their most eccentric, such as telling a love story between wax figures in “Instant Crush,” Daft Punk’s creativity can still move just about anyone.



#10: Beastie Boys



When it came to living young, wild and free, there was nobody quite like the Beastie Boys. And while Ad-Rock, Mike D, and MCA certainly played into their Brooklyn thug personas, they made it look so damn fun. Under the pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower, MCA directed their 1981 debut “Holy Snappers,” and since then, the Beastie Boys have continued their classic music video legacy. Although MCA has since moved on to the next life, the Beastie Boys are firmly rooted in the groundwork of transformative hip-hip videos.



#9: Childish Gambino


As an actor by day, it should come as no surprise that Donald Glover has a firm grasp on the visual medium. He’s always had quirky, outside-the-box music videos, such as “3005,” but took things to the next level for “This Is America.” Quickly going viral, the video’s delivery and message ensured an already impactful song about racial injustice would become an instant classic. He continued the momentum with the “Feels Like Summer” video. While the song’s lyrics are about climate change, the animated video is stuffed with unrelated celebrities, possibly as a distraction to see which aspect people focus on. Either way, Childish Gambino knows how to get people talking.



#8: Gorillaz


Given that they’re a virtual band made up of cartoon characters, Gorillaz’ visuals are just as important as their music. In fact, co-creator Jamie Hewlett’s main responsibility is character design and video directing. He and lead singer Damon Albarn thought of the idea for the group after being fed up with MTV’s shallowness, and wanted to create something deeper. The band’s four animated members, 2-D, Murdoc, Noodle, and Russel, appear throughout their videography, with plot points carrying over between them. One of their most exciting offerings, “On Melancholy Hill” features both traditional and CGI animation, with cameos from De La Soul and Snoop Dogg. Albarn and Hewlett have floated the idea of a Gorillaz film, but unfortunately nothing has materialized.



#7: Prince


Our next artist is better known for his full-length film, but his shorter efforts are just as good. Alongside Michael Jackson, Prince became one of the first black artists featured on MTV with his videos for “1999” and “Little Red Corvette.” A noted perfectionist, he often worked on both sides of the camera, directing the music videos for some of his biggest hits: “When Doves Cry” features him in a bathtub as doves fly around him, while the partially-animated “Raspberry Beret” is trippy and full of color. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Prince’s purple reign was unstoppable.


#6: Britney Spears


Since her debut at the turn of the millennium, the Princess of Pop has filled her music videos with iconic outfits, choreography, and storylines. Whether she’s portraying a Catholic schoolgirl or a James Bond villainess, you could pick any random Britney video and have yourself a recognizable Halloween costume. She also created the concepts for many of her videos, such as “...Baby One More Time.” It was originally going to be animated, before she suggested the now-famous idea of dancing in the halls of a high school. Britney has amassed so many influential videos over the years, that in 2011’s “Hold It Against Me,” she was literally surrounded by them.



#5: Lady Gaga



For a music video to stand the test of time, it must have that “it” factor - otherwise known as the “WTF” element. In a digital world full of wacky personalities, it takes a true artist to stand out, and in the digital age, a fully realized Lady Gaga spectacle will surely become a social media phenomenon. She doesn’t necessarily have the resume of a Madonna or Janet Jackson, however she’s clearly learned a thing or two from those who came before. Then again, Gaga is only getting started, but if she was to retire today, she’d forever have a place on our list.

#4: Madonna


It's hard not to be aware of Madonna’s influence on pop culture. In fact, MTV presented Madonna with a Video Vanguard Award in 1986, years before iconic releases such as “Express Yourself” and “Vogue,”- both directed by none other than famed filmmaker David Fincher. Given the vast videography of Madonna, we’ll just say that it’s worth your time to take an hour or two to explore her immaculate collection from beginning to end, as she fully embraced the art form and utilized the platform of MTV to the fullest, all the while becoming the biggest female pop star in the world.



#3: Janet Jackson


It would be understandable if she got lost in the King of Pop’s shadow, but she has held her own. Ever since her breakout “Control” album in 1986, Janet Jackson has given us choreography, sensuality, and even themes of activism in her videos. Her “Rhythm Nation” video is especially memorable, featuring a black-and-white dystopian world with dancing soldiers working for social progress. She continued the black-and-white theme in “Miss You Much,” where she showed off her famous chair dance. Few artists’ videos are as well-rounded as Janet’s, who always knows when to get serious, steamy, or have a good old-fashioned dance break.



#2: Beyoncé


Already a legitimate pop star as a member of Destiny’s Child, as a solo artist Beyoncé quickly ushered in the next wave of iconic music videos, beginning with a collaboration featuring her beau Jay-Z. Since then, Beyoncé has combined her astounding sex appeal with the most innovative styles and dance moves of the time. Of course, it was the “Single Ladies” video that left perhaps the biggest imprint on pop culture, even if her repertoire is certainly not limited to formulaic creations. You never know what to expect with Bey, well, except the fact that she will handle her business.





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

Guns N’ Roses
“November Rain” Is Among the Most Expensive Videos Ever


OK Go
For Their Ingenious Rube Goldberg Machine


Radiohead
For Their Avant-Garde Concepts


Duran Duran
One of MTV’s Staple ‘80s Pioneers


Foo Fighters
For Their Creative Parodies & Homages




#1: Rick Astley


We are never gonna give up on the joy of Rickrolling. But our real #1 is…



#1: Michael Jackson



With all due respect to the other artists on this list, they all pale, in comparison to the King of Pop. No one will ever transcend the very idea of the music video quite like MJ, as he crossed racial barriers while simultaneously offering the world something new with each release. Of course, MJ didn’t just make“videos,” he made short films and enlisted the biggest names in the business to ensure a premium experience. The world stopped when a new MJ video hit the airwaves, and he more than anyone understood the importance of his craft.
Comments