Including classic clips by Lauryn Hill, Juvenile, Pulp, Madonna, and more
Graphic by Martine Ehrhart
- Senior Staff Writer
by Marc Hogan
It was a time of visionaries—on both sides of the camera lens. In 1998, era-defining directors including Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry, and Hype Williams were putting their highly stylized twists on artists like Madonna and Busta Rhymes, expanding the creative possibilities of music videos in the process. MTV dictated what audiences saw back then, but some of the year’s best visuals took advantage of the platform, beaming striking images into the homes of millions of teenagers worldwide. Many of those clips combined ingenious special effects to profoundly dramatic ends, while others took a cinéma vérité approach toward a local scene long before YouTube and WorldStar, or else cast a fisheye lens on a hypercolor future that hasn’t quite arrived yet.Each video inour top 10is a dazzling display of sound and vision, and you can watch all them below.
10. OutKast: “Rosa Parks”
OutKast’s Aqueminiis the best album of 1998, and “Rosa Parks”is its triumphant visual manifestation. Big Boi and Andre 3000 playfully lay out the video’s concept at the outset, a mix of muscle cars and “space, futuristic-type things,” and director Gregory Dark somehow makes it all a brashly colorful reality. With both man-from-Saturn costumes and a marching band stepping past the local barber shop, it’s a testament to the outsized creative ambitions of the era’s most restlessly forward-thinking duo.
On Madonna’s Ray of Light, the protean pop star reinvented herself yet again through a mix of electronic ambience, austere folk, and earth-mother mysticism. And for the record’s lead single, the no-longer-so Material Girl turned to… the guy who directed Aphex Twin’s freakish “Come to Daddy” video (yes, that one). With temperatures plunging in the bleak California desert, the shoot was famously frustrating for both the artist and her director. “I was barefoot for the entire video, and then it started pouring rain and everyone got really sick,” the singer once recalled. But the finished product, with a shape-shifting Madonna dressed in fluttering black,brings out her inner goth in a way she had never revealed before.
8. Juvenile: “Ha”
Director: Marc Klasfeld
The breakout video for Juvenile and, by extension, New Orleans’ Cash Money Recordsis a fiercely regional document depicting a day in the life of the Crescent City’s Magnolia Housing Projects. Complete with kids on a front porch, silver-haired ladies in church clothes, and a threatening police presence, the video also introduced director Marc Klasfeld, who would later bring a similar slice-of-life feel to Nelly’s St. Louis and Cam’ron’s Harlem in subsequent clips. With gold teeth in his mouth and sticky sweat on his brow, Juvenile serves as an animated ambassador here, a host to the vibrant humanity surrounding his alien-transmission drawl.
7. Portishead: “Only You”
Director: Chris Cunningham
For this moody single from Portishead’s second album, director Chris Cunningham filmed singer Beth Gibbons and a young boy floating in a giant tank of water. Then he layered that footage atop a darkened alleyway scene lit by a full moon, with unexplained men watching from windows above. “We couldn’t communicate through the water, there was divers splashing around, Beth had snot bubbles coming out of her nose,” Cunningham said later. “It was a nightmare.” You don’t want to wake up from it.
6. Pulp: “This Is Hardcore”
Those expecting an explicit video to match this Pulpsingle’s racy lyrical content might be confused by its pastiche ofoutdated Hollywood styles, butthe clip matches up nicely with the track’s sense ofregal decay. Rather than a cavorting rumination on porn, director Doug Nichol transports “This Is Hardcore” through film noir, Douglas Sirk melodramas, and splashy Busby Berkeley musicals. The money shot is a glamorously disheveled Jarvis Cocker leering out from among the feather-waving dancers, like a past-his-prime lounge act stuck in a limbo of his own making.
5. Stardust: “Music Sounds Better With You”
Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, who formed this side project with his fellow French house pioneer Alan Braxe and vocalist Benjamin Diamond, once suggested that Stardust never released another single because they didn’t want to tarnish their one-hit wonder. Michel Gondry, who had worked on Daft Punk’s choreography-driven “Around the World” video a year earlier, captures the childlike pop idealism of “Music Sounds Better With You” with his signature homemade flair: A pre-teen escapes adult realities with the help of a model airplane kit and, in a delightful meta touch, a cheesy, keytar-laden music video. It’s a love letter to the imaginative powers of the medium itself.
4. Lauryn Hill: “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
Director: Big TV!
Lauryn Hillshowed off both her soulful vocals and cold-as-hell raps on this No. 1 hit, and the “Doo Wop (That Thing)” video illustrates her two sides brilliantly. Directing duo Big TV! make simple and deadly effective use of the split screen here: One side is set in 1967, the other in 1998. But as some things change, some things stay the same; whether in bob-cut wig or dreadlocks, Hill throws an incredible New York City block party.
3. Brandy and Monica: “The Boy Is Mine”
The chart-ruling duet between Brandy and Monica was already a conceptual coup on record, with the singers updating the lovers’ triangle from Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “The Girl Is Mine” in a slinky late-’90s R&B style. The song’s video goes one better. The pair don’t only a share a man, but neighboring apartments, too (and, for some reason, their remote controls keep switching the other’s channels). Eventually the two women confront each other, but this is no “Jerry Springer”–style catfight: By the time their beau, played by future 8 Mile co-star Mekhi Phifer, arrives at the door, female solidarity is waiting to greet him.
2. Busta Rhymes: “Gimme Some More”
Directors: Hype Williams and Busta Rhymes
This supremely psychedelic origin story of a music video still feels strikingly contemporary. Yes, Hype Williams’ signature fisheye lens is synonymous with its time, but the cartoonishly fantastical images, whether of a Street Fighter–like monster, a Yosemite Sam–style cowboy, or Busta as a boxer of comically inflated proportions, still rush past as dizzyingly as the rapper’s rapid-fire cadences. It’s difficult to imagine some of the more adventurous recent videos—such as Tyler, the Creator’s phantasmagoric “Who Dat Boy” from last year—without “Gimme Some More.”
1. UNKLE: “Rabbit in Your Headlights” [ft. Thom Yorke]
In 1987, Thom Yorke was in a automobile accident that ended up informing several Radiohead songs with titles like “Killer Cars” and “Stupid Car.” And with “Karma Police,” director Jonathan Glazer had already done one video with Yorke involving a car menacing a mysterious man. The clip for UK electronicact UNKLE’s Yorke-featuring “Rabbit in Your Headlights” continues—and perfects—this anti-automobile theme, highlighting the devastating power of a common car while offering a surreal vision for humanity’s revenge.
The video shows French actor Denis Lavant mumbling what sounds like vaguely religious nonsense as he stumbles through a tunnel filled with traffic. Some of the drama comes from how people interact with him, whether that’s offering him a ride, complimenting his coat, or, excruciatingly often, running him over. And yet, he keeps getting back up. It’s as harrowing to watch as it is fun to interpret afterward: Who is this Christ-like figure? Are we the drivers? The man’s ultimate victory is surprising and satisfying in equal measure, a comeuppance to end all comeuppances.
What are the top 10 music videos? ›
- 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson. ...
- 'Like a Prayer' by Madonna. ...
- 'Karma Police' by Radiohead. ...
- 'Runaway' by Kanye West. ...
- 'Big Time Sensuality' by Björk. ...
- 'Humble' by Kendrick Lamar. ...
- 'Closer' by Nine Inch Nails. ...
- 'Hardest Button to Button' by White Stripes.
1) Michael Jackson – Thriller
You know Thriller. Everyone knows Thriller. It's one of the most famous music videos ever, one that's been covered, remixed, and parodied everywhere from American high schools to Filipino prisons.
- Write a Few Lyrics Into Google.
- Do a YouTube Search.
- Post It on a Song Naming Community.
- Advanced Google Search.
- Use a Song Identifier App.
- Search up the Artist's Discography.
- “Video Killed the Radio Star,” The Buggles.
- “You Better Run,” Pat Benatar.
- “She Won't Dance With Me,” Rod Stewart.
- “You Better You Bet,” The Who.
- “Little Suzi's on the Up,” Ph. D.
- “We Don't Talk Anymore,” Cliff Richard.
- “Brass in Pocket,” The Pretenders.
- “Time Heals,” Todd Rundgren.
It was never a hit single and got almost no play on Top 40 radio. There's even a dispute over the exact title. Yet “It's a Small World,” also known as “It's a Small, Small World” and “It's a Small World (After All),” is very likely the most played song in music history — nearly 50 million times.What song has a billion views on YouTube? ›
“Baby Shark Dance” might be the current record-holder in terms of total views, but Korean artist Psy's “Gangnam Style” video remained on the top spot for longest (1,689 days or 4.6 years) before ceding its spot to its successor.What is the top 10 most viewed video on YouTube? ›
|ARTIST NAME||VIDEO NAME||VIEWS|
|Pinkfong Kids' Songs & Stories||Baby Shark Dance||10,688,822,034|
|Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee||Despacito||7,850,921,485|
|Ed Sheeran||Shape of You||5,722,090,415|
|Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth||See You Again||5,513,461,122|
- “Baby Shark Dance” by Pinkfong (10.6 billion views) ...
- “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi feat. ...
- “Johny Johny Yes Papa” by LooLoo Kids (6.3 billion views) ...
- “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran (5.7 billion views) ...
- “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa feat. ...
- “Bath Song” by Cocomelon Nursery Rhymes (5.3 billion views)
Using Search Filters. Open YouTube. If you can't remember the name of the video and couldn't find it in your history, you can use search filters within YouTube to help track it down.Where can I find old music videos? ›
- YouTube. YouTube is, of course, the daddy of online video. ...
- Vimeo. Vimeo is an online video site with a strong and dedicated community. ...
- IMVDb. The Internet Music Video Database (IMVDb) is an online host for just music videos. ...
- MTV UK. ...
How do you find a music if I don't know the name? ›
Shazam. With Shazam, users simply hold their phone up to the source of music while a song is playing. Tap a button and Shazam will listen it to identify the song, and provide key information such as the title, artist, and album.What was the first song ever made? ›
“Hurrian Hymn No. 6” is considered the world's earliest melody, but the oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the “Seikilos Epitaph.” The song was found engraved on an ancient marble column used to mark a woman's gravesite in Turkey.What was the most popular video on MTV? ›
|1||"Thriller" (1983) from the LP Thriller||iTunes Amazon.mp3|
|2||"Vogue" (1990) from the LP I'm Breathless||iTunes Amazon.mp3|
|3||"Smells Like Teen Spirit" (1992) from the LP Nevermind||iTunes Amazon.mp3|
|4||"Sledgehammer" (1986) from the LP So||iTunes Amazon.mp3|
|5||"Walk This Way" (1986) from the LP Raising Hell||iTunes Amazon.mp3|
Yes, Billy Gibbons made the first ZZ Top single with two different guys, but the Gibbons/Hill/Beard trio has been in place since 1970. That's enough to make ZZ Top the longest-running group with an unchanged line-up in the entire history of popular music.What song has made the most money? ›
In 1893, the Hill sisters needed a song for their kindergarten class to sing on birthdays. Fast forward 120 years and "Happy Birthday" is by far the richest and most profitable song of all time. The Ownership of "Happy Birthday" has changed hands a few times in the last 100 years.What is the most liked song in the world? ›
"Despacito" by Luis Fonsi (left) featuring Daddy Yankee (right) has been the most liked video on YouTube since July 2017, with over 49 million likes as of October 2022.What is the most viewed video on YouTube 2022? ›
“Baby Shark Dance” might be the current record-holder in terms of total views, but Korean artist Psy's “Gangnam Style” video remained on the top spot for longest (1,689 days or 4.6 years) before ceding its spot to its successor.What is the best selling music video of all time? ›
Here is a list of the five most popular music videos ever:Michael Jackson – Thriller – 1.7 billion views This was one of Michael Jackson's most successful songs and was released in 1983 as a short film. It has won three Grammy Awards and is considered the best-selling music video of all time.What was the most successful music video of the 80s? ›
1: Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983)
Having any other music video other than “Thriller' as No. 1 in our list of the most iconic 80s music videos would be heresy.
What is the most viewed video on YouTube? The most viewed on YouTube is Baby Shark Dance - Pinkfong Kids' Songs & Stories (simply called Baby Shark). It has received more than 7 billion views worldwide.