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20 Iconic Videos From 2012 back to pre-80s, with iconic videos from the likes of Madonna, Queen, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Beyonce and Britney Spears.
PsyGangnam Style (2012)
PsyGangnam Style (2012) This video was astonishingly popular and stuck around for a very long time. What made this video stick was the dance; everyone was doing the Gangnam Style moves at parties and everyone was singing along to the chorus because that was the only lyrics they knew. I think that makes it fair to say that in this case, the music video made the song and made it so popular. This video was the first ever YouTube video to reach 1 billion views and just recently, his YouTube channel has exceeded a monstrous 3 billion views. The video in general is bright, colourful, flashy and is so close to being tacky and bad but it scrapes through as packed full of action (explosions), costumes and wacky dancers and routines.
Gotye ft. Kimbra Somebody That I Used To Know (2011)
Gotye ft. Kimbra Somebody That I Used To Know (2011) A single reason as to why this video was so incredibly popular, is to many, unknown. It was simple, it was basic, it was a man named Gotye lip-syncing in the nude whilst gradually being painted into the background as ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’. It’s all the video is and I believe that the message of being blurred into the background was lost slightly – I know of many people that have only just understood that. I think in this case, the song made the video and not the other way around. The shot is the same mid shot throughout apart from a few CU’s into the painting process.
SiaClap Your Hands (2010)
SiaClap Your Hands (2010) I’m a big fan of this video and it’s ambition and creativity. The artist Sia often uses very imaginative themes in her video (before she has used puppetry and shadow theatre). In this video her face appears in various small puppets like the koala bear in the last slide. She lip-syncs as two or three of the characters but some of them are being humorous and acting out little scenes instead. The back drop is black to make the near neon colours stand out more. The use of UV looking colours is very effective and all of the costumes are amazing which surpass the basic sceneries. I think the video makes the song (I have the video on my iPod, not the song) but both are equally good.
Lady GagaBad Romance (2009)
Lady GagaBad Romance(2009) This was a major video when it came out and was a real breakthrough for Lady Gaga, whose videos up until this point had been a mil form of her personality. In Bad Romance, money was clearly no issue with wacky costumes, big dance routines and a general theme that was a bit ‘out there’. This was an introduction to her personality and her style as an artist. It was a statement video. It stuck in people’s minds and no-one could get the song out of their head. It’s hard to know whether one made the other but Bad Romance was key for the artist and vital in the new genre of videos without narrative but a strong visual anyway.
BeyonceSingle Ladies (2008)
BeyonceSingle Ladies (2008) Possibly the most simplistic video in years. This black and white video is shot in one place with two dancers either side of Beyonce. The costumes are black leotards and heels and the entire video is the three women performing a dance routine. This was probably a case of the video being so popular that the song did well too. Everyone was doing what moves they could from the Single Ladies routine. A very simple video that was known even among artists in the same business as the best video of that year, at least. http://youtu.be/NUHQpCM7yyY
Feist1234(2007) Feist is an artist that tends to go unnoticed but in 2007, her colourful and cheerful video for 1234 became a huge hit. It shows a group of around 50 people alldressed in block colours(purple, green etc). It’sbrightly coloured and shows Feist lip-syncingthroughout and them alljoining in a dance routine that is oh-so-simple. They play with perspective but really it is just a nice, gentle, basic music video. It would seem that less is more. NB: This is one of my favourite videos of all time and well worth a look.
OK GoHere it Goes Again (2006)
OK GoHere it Goes Again (2006) Here we have again this ‘home-made’ feel to a video in which the 4 members of the band (there are no extras) line up 8 treadmills against a grey background. They are not extraordinarily dressed and nothing else happens in the video. This video essentially went viral as the band weren’t that well-known and this video was, simply, genius. The idea has been remade many times, even in adverts appearing on the television. This video always seems to me like 4 guys messing about and then having an excellent result to then film. It would seem this way and that no choreographer was necessary – if you look you can see them nearly falling over on several occasions.
GorillazFeel Good Inc. (2005)
GorillazFeel Good Inc.(2005) The first animated video on my list – but not on theirs. The Gorillaz only use animation in their music videos with the exception of a human face in one video. Even though it’s animated, this video has the animated forms of the band members lip-syncing and playing the instruments in time. Something that many modern videos don’t bother with. This video has a strong corporate identity along with the album artwork and the general image of the band. These colours and animated characters stick throughout all videos and album covers. ‘Dirty Harry’ ‘Clint Eastwood’ ‘DARE’
Britney SpearsToxic (2004)
Britney SpearsToxic(2004) Britney Spears is one of the biggest names in music videos because everyone she makes is a hit. Britney dons more than three different personas or characters in this video, all in different sets, different costumes and make-up and all with their own separate narrative that seem to interlink at the end. Something should probably be said about Mulvey’s male gaze when it comes to the outfits we see and the random shots to females dancing in underwear. However this is very much to Spears’ style and she regularly stole the show and inspired generations of imitators and wannabes all wearing outfits from videos like Toxic.
OutkastHey Ya (2003)
OutkastHey Ya (2003) Everyone born in the 90s or 00s knows the dance move to this track (my first ringtone on a flip phone). They know it from the video. It’s a really simple video with the idea that the band Outkast is playing to a live TV audience and they end up getting the TV audience to all shakes their hands (“shake it like a Polaroid picture”) with them, thus creating this dance move we all know. There’s a strong high school theme which can be found in this album and in other videos such as “Roses” but does not extend past this album – presumably a fashion change resulting in a band image change. There’s also a really strong colour theme (green) which has been put in all over the place to keep the theme going. Lastly the theme found only in their costumes; jockeys.
Fatboy SlimWeapon Of Choice (2000)
Fatboy SlimWeapon Of Choice (2000) Weapon of Choice can frequently be found in ‘Best Video’ lists and is a classic. It features the ever exciting and unexpected celebrity cameo from actor Christopher Walken. It’s really quite simple – Christopher Walken is alone in a hotel-looking building before he begins to dance and proceed to get so into it he begins flying around the room whilst dancing (all in a suit of course). As it’s a Fatboy Slim track we never see the DJ or singer, as per usual. In terms of which made which here, the video and song go hand in hand on this one.
Daft PunkAround The World (1997)
Daft PunkAround The World (1997) Around the World is one of my personal favourites. One room, around 30 people in costume performing a very simple dance routine in a circle at different levels of height. Around the world and around the circle the dancers go. The song is one lyric repeated over and over and the video is the same moves over and over but it works and is so good. This one is all about the video.
JamiroquaiVirtual Insanity (1996)
JamiroquaiVirtual Insanity (1996) Virtual Insanity is one of those videos I remember watching when I was younger and wondering how they did it. As an older, A-level Media Studies student I can see that it was really a simple thing to do. Jamiroquai and a basic room and three-wall structure stay put (perhaps slightly held up from above) whilst a treadmill like floor moves around forcing him to move around and dance whilst lip-syncing instead of standing still. Given that I can only think of the music to ‘Love Fool’ by Jamiroquai and can’t actually sing or picture the lyric ‘Virtual Insanity’, I’d say the video won this round.
MadonnaVogue (1990) Voted the 6th best music video of all time (no pressure), this video has been recreated over and over again and not just by amateurs, such recreations have appeared in televisions shows like Glee others, it earns it’s ‘iconic’ level. This black and white video is the epitome of glamour and the era that ended the 80s and began the 90s. This was a piece of excellence in terms of editing – each cut and each shot was cut and placed perfectly in time to the beat. This is a great video to watch but was extremely high budget and focuses on glamour, props and costume, but the result is magnificent.
Peter GabrielSledgehammer (1987)
Peter GabrielSledgehammer (1987) This is genius because here Peter Gabriel stands and lip-syncs to his song whilst everything else goes on around him. Not just that but it’s stop motion. Something I dreamt about doing but would never be to this standard. It’s this simplicity again and it really really works. It’s such a fun video too and it’s just a little bit zany with a train going round his head whilst he’s singing. It’s so original and unexpected. It’s not been done before and I don’t believe stop motion has been used so effectively since.
A-haTake On Me (1986)
A-haTake On Me (1986) There seems to be a theme of strong narrative and great story-telling in 80s music videos. Together in Electric Dreams, Hungry Like the Wolf and this, Take On Me. A short story with diegetic sound at the beginning and end, a really tense story that is like a short film during instrumental breaks that seem to match the mood and a clever and creative mix of cartoon and real people. It’s an original story of a girl reading a cartoon and being pulled into the sketchy world by a man (the lead singer). There’s a real plot to the video with trouble, baddies and a happy ending. Although videos nowadays tend to be longer or with more film at beginnings and ends, none have the same film feel as 80s storylines (and outfits!).
QueenI Want To Break Free (1984)
QueenI Want To Break Free (1984) One of the funniest, yet weirdest videos of all time. The members of Queen struck gold with the least video on this list (Bohemian Rhapsody) and kept with the slightly odd theme. Costume is key here – they are all dressed as women; housewives, school children or grannies. These outfits have been and will be imitated every Halloween and fancy dress party throughout history. This track isn’t considered one of Queen’s greatest hits (not where albums are concerned) but as videos go it is one of the best, one of the most creative and probably the second best video they ever made as a band.
Michael JacksonThriller (1983)
Michael JacksonThriller (1983) Generally considered the best video of all time (although I do believe some think it is the first – it is not and is about 8 years too late anyway). This was such a big deal and it still is – after all, it was essentially a short film. The video spans 13 minutes and walks the audience through an entire story with plot, costume, dozens of extras (all dressed as zombies), props and scenery. The quality and the production effort in this is insanely incredible, and there’s nothing like it and there probably never will be again. The dance moves also play apart and everyone pulls out ‘the Thriller move’ at parties and millions of imitators and fancy dress goers will pretend to be MJ for years and years to come.
Pre-80s:The BugglesVideo Killed The Radio Star (1979)
The BugglesVideo Killed The Radio Star (1979) This feels like the first video to really experiment and I think this video is so fun because it is just that. It’s playing around and seeing what they can do so you can see examples of video merge that nearly cut someone's head off in editing as well as filters and cartoon effects over characters. Overlaying, imposing images on one another. It’s just iconic as it’s the early editing of a music video and it’s so fascinating because it’s all about technology and the radio and video coming in – quite ironic too.
Pre-80s:QueenBohemian Rhapsody (1975)
QueenBohemian Rhapsody (1975) Everyone has seen this video and if not hey know the song, even if it’s from Wayne’s World. What most people forget is that this is actually a video of 3 parts or even more and that the majority of the video isn’t their faces famously in the shadows lip-syncing but it is their live performance in those fab white costumes that takes up most. There’s also the effects such as bottom left here and it’s a 6 minute long video so there’s a lot of room to fill. This video is very old-fashioned in the sense that early videos were mainly live performances found on shows like Top of the Pops. It’s also in a way, kind of ahead of its time with the retro and colour effects that it uses. I’ts the most iconic video of all time.