The 100 Greatest Music Videos of All Time
40. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
directed by Samuel Bayer
Teenage apathy turns into chaos in Nirvana’s anthem of Generation X. The extras in the video were so tired and bored to death, after spending 12 straight hours on set, that when Kurt Cobain let them mosh and free themselves, everyone started to wreak havoc. The results gave one of the most iconic videos of the 90s.. Watch.
39. Voices Carry - ‘Til Tuesday
directed by DJ Webster
The other day I went to the opera and, all of a sudden, a clearly distressed Aimee Mann suffered a nervous breakdown and started to sing a pop tune right in the middle of Queen of the Night, pushing the poor soprano into the background. But her catharsis was so unapologetic and climactic the whole audience started to cheer and clap wildly, forgetting all about Mozart and his Magic Flute. Watch.
38. Bombay - El Guincho
directed by Nicolás Méndez
El Guincho takes us to a cosmic voyage, a la Carl Sagan, through parallel worlds in light-year speed. The trip will be frantic and hallucinatory. We’ll discover ancient sects, sexualised guerrillas and fearless warriors. We’ll also be baffled by its complete randomness, but that’s what happens when you search for signs of life in the universe. Watch (NSFW).
37. Pass This On - The Knife
DIRECTED BY Johan Renck
Some hints to enjoy Pass This On even more:
I’m in love with your brother, sings the lady-impersonator on stage.
The band members are brother and sister in real life.
Brother Olof Driejer is the guy who starts dancing.
Sister Karin is the one who looks confounded and doesn’t stand up.
With or without this info, Pass This On is still one the best LGTB+ music videos of all time. Sometimes, when it comes to tolerance, you just need one person to take the first step so the others can join in the dance. Watch.
36. Jeremy - Pearl Jam
directed by Mark Pellington
Pearl Jam tried to raise awareness of bullying at school with a song based on the tragedy of a teenager who shot himself in front of his whole class. Instead of finding the root of the problem, people accused Pearl Jam and their video of breeding violence and encouraging school shooters. Because people never learn. Watch.
35. Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See - Busta Rhymes
directed by Hype Williams
In this sardonic interpretation of Coming To America, Hype Williams is at his most Hype Williams with a video full of bright colours, extravagancies and, of course, fisheye lenses—lots of fisheye lenses. Watch.
34. Tainted Love - Coil
directed by Peter Christopherson
Tainted Love was the first AIDS charity single and, predictably, Coil’s version of Soft Cell’s version of Gloria Gaynor’s song is much more sombre and drearier than those two other hits. Its video, about the death of a patient suffering from AIDS, is as suffocating as the music. It was also the first music video to be purchased by the Museum of Modern Art. Watch.
33. Sabotage - Beastie Boys
directed by Spike Jonze
I remember we used to watch all those TV programmes from the 70s, like Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky & Hutch or Hill Street Blues, but our favourite by far was Sabotage—even though it lasted less than one season—because it looked like three buddies having a ball while filming a police procedural show. And how can you forget Bunny who stole the show every time he appeared on screen? Watch.
32. Criminal - Fiona Apple
directed by Mark ROmanek
Mark Romanek’s rendition of Criminal takes place on a debauched after-party, but instead of erotic, it feels more voyeuristic and creepy. I don’t know what kind of parties Fiona Apple attends, where no one dares to show their faces, but I hope she invites me to the next one. Watch.
31. Let Forever Be - The Chemical Brothers
directed by Michel Gondry
Reality and dreams get mixed up in this nightmarish but highly-enjoyable kaleidoscope that can be considered the epitome of Michel Gondry’s imagination. Watch.