MTV’S TOP 25 VIDEOS OF ALL-TIME 

25. The Cars – You Might Think (1984) 
     (***½)  What to say about this one? It was the ‘80s. Ric Ocasek, in no uncertain terms, managed to paint himself as the most creepy, obnoxious lead singer of a New Wave band. Yes, even more obnoxious than the Flock of Seagulls guy. The now-primitive video for “You Might Think” must have seemed utterly ambitious at the time, and it does play around with the finest in 1984 cartoon props and superimposition. Ric is King Kong, Ric is the face of a bumble bee, Ric enters the portrait of a beautiful woman and her boyfriend and knocks the boyfriend out of the picture. Long story short, in this video Ric does what every geek has probably longed to do at one time or another – bug the hell out of a model-gorgeous girl until she finally breaks down and falls in love with him. Of course, tricks like this only work in the video world. In real life, if you drive a car up a woman’s bedspread and plow her down, you’ll be cellmates with Cletus for 25 years to life. –Andrew Hicks 
    (***½)  The Cars get #25 on the countdown for "You Might Think," but Ric Ocasek gets #1 for Creepiest Guy in a Music Video. I mean, don't we have laws to protect us from this sort of behavior? Ric hiding under this poor girl's covers, raising his periscope in the bathtub (and yes, I get it) and growing to hundreds of feet tall so he can kidnap the poor lass? Of course, the giant Ric Ocasek would kick the living piss out of the giant Mic Jagger. Trust me. This is one of the great videos of the '80s, but it has a certain cheese to it that makes me unable to dole out the extra half star. Maybe it's the girl: way-too-'80s looks and way-too-'80s attitude. Also, why is it every time a rock star is going after a girl in an '80s video, she's annoyed with his childish antics for the first three-and-a-half minutes, and then charmed for the last 30 seconds, with no transition whatsoever? If only my life was a music video: then stalking would be seen as perserverence, and I could serenade my way to some lovin'! Until then, I guess I have to keep following the restraining order. --James Wallace 

24. Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity (1997) 
     (****)  “Virtual Insanity,” in my opinion, is one of the top five videos of the '90s and certainly one of the most visually impressive, engaging videos ever. Not a bad job for a band whose one good Stevie Wonder imitation was enough to propel it to success and lure innocent music buyers (myself included) into purchasing an album that was little more than warmed-over disco. The “Virtual Insanity” video takes place on one giant, sterile white set filled with deco cabinet handles and moving furniture. The band’s Brit singer, Jay Kay (is he white, black, what?), topped in his trademark giant hat, slinks around the never-stable room. I’ve watched this video probably a hundred times by now, and I still can’t figure out how they did it. Did the entire set move or just the furniture? Surely, the floor itself wasn’t actually moving. I mean, the cost would be astronomical. A video like this, which has only four or five edits total, is better left a mystery, I guess. –AH 
     (****)  One of a handful of truly great videos from the latter half of the decade, I'd be more apt to place this video in the top five of all time. If only these guys could have kept this pace going and turned a quirky hit into an actual sound. Unfortunately, everything else they've done sounds like bad disco music. "Virtual Insanity" is well named, because that's what it sounds like, and that's what the video looks like. In case you're MTV deprived (In which case I don't know why you spend your time reading reviews. Weirdo.), the gist of the video is that the lead singer (who looks like an advertisement for Performance Fleece) slides around a room that isn't quite real. Birds, cockroaches and strange sludge draw attention away from the fact that things in the room are being changed. In that way, I guess it's kind of like our apartment. The entire idea seems to be that things aren't quite real, which really sums up the idea of a music video to begin with. This is one of the greats. --JW 

23. Notorious B.I.G. f/Puff Daddy and Mase – Mo Money, Mo Problems (1997) 
     (*1/2)  This is when things really started to go awry in the Bad Boy camp. I thought “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” could have just been a case of self-indulgence and that “I’ll Be Missing You” might have been the music video equivalent of a wido's black veil -- more therapeutic and emotional than artful and original. But there’s no rationalization for this garish, overblown effort, which samples the Diana Ross disco hit “I’m Coming Out” and has "Puffy Woods" winning a golf match (of course he plays golf) moderated by "Mase Gumbel." That’s not my joke, that’s what they calls themselves, and God knows the descriptions apply. Biggie would have bitch slapped the both of them if he had seen this. It’s like the kids who throw a party when their parents go out of town; Biggie dies and out come the fly girls, shiny lycra suits and unending showers of sparks. The big man’s only appearance comes between verses in the form of an old interview clip, where a bedridden and stoned-as-hell Biggie complains about all the problems wealth has brought him. “It’s just negative energy like my man Puff say.” I’d say the fact that this video is ranked #23 of all-time is some fucking negative energy, man. –AH 

22. Blind Melon – No Rain (1993) 
     (**)  Man, get out of here with this one. I’ve been monitoring the end-of-millennium countdowns on MTV and VH1, and somehow this one-trick-pony act managed to rank on both of them. The music video networks also both did feature stories on where the Bee Girl is now. (She’s still kicking around Hollywood, and she thinks the kid from the “Pretty Fly For a White Guy” video is “so rad.”) I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but the “No Rain” video vexes me. Six years after the fact, it still gets under my skin somehow. I can even admit the song is kind of cool – what a difference a couple pounds of marijuana can make in a person’s music taste – but I think my subconscious takes issue with the idea of the Bee Girl herself. It’s not that she’s a pert, overweight little-girl version of Art Garfunkel. It’s not the little amateur tap dances she does for the duration of the video. (Okay, maybe it is the little tap dances she does – I find the intro, where everyone laughs her offstage, to be the best part of the video.) What I think it is, is that the video is rendered without any irony whatsoever. This is an obnoxious little girl who insists on performing for everyone to feel validated, but she doesn’t actually validate herself until she finds the field full of dancing bee people. The place where she fits in. In my old age, I should be so lucky. –AH 

21. INXS – Need You Tonight / Mediate (1987) 
     (**½)  This really hasn’t held up like I thought it would. The "Need You Tonight / Mediate" combo used to seem like a brilliant five-minute montage of images. Now it just looks geeky and primitive, and it doesn’t help that the whole time I’m watching it, I have images of Michael Hutchence in the throes of auto-erotic asphyxiatory passion. The “Need You Tonight” half is a moving canvas of shots of the band members and their instruments – a guitar fills half the screen for a good twenty seconds, and someone managed to talk the drummer into doing an “air drums” sequence. Twice. Oh, and when Michael sings, “I’m lonely!” he’s framed behind images of prison bars. How visual. I prefer the “Mediate” half, although I just heard Carson Daly say INXS ripped it off from Bob Dylan. For two minutes, scruffy guys display cue cards with the song’s lyrics written on them and toss those cards in the air one at a time as the song progresses. The song “Mediate” is about playing with words, and the video is a nice accompaniment, original or not. QUESTION: Is it just me or did the INXS bass player bomb the Oklahoma federal building about five years ago? –AH 

20. Busta Rhymes – Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See (1997) 
     (***½)  This isn’t one of Busta’s best singles, but it certainly makes for a visually impressive video. The man, no matter how simple or repetitive his beats and lyrical style sometimes are, manages to commission some of the most elaborate, expensive videos in rap. “Put Your Hands” was directed by Hype Williams and was one of his last great efforts before latching onto Puffy’s trousers. This video takes place in an African palace, where Eddie Murphy is king and Magic Johnson guards the gong. Wait, wrong African palace video. “Put Your Hands” is full of crazed tribal interplay and motion-distorted dancing. Busta leading the pack, alternately appearing in red, Satanic-looking face paint, dark, bushman garb and fluorescent, Batman and Robin body paint. At one point, he leads an elephant down a hallway – his elephant off to do battle with the camel Rob Thomas is at that moment leading down the bowling alley in the next room. It’s a hard video to describe but a fun one to watch. And note the fucked-up-but-loving tribute to Coming to America. –AH 

19. Pearl Jam – Jeremy (1991) 
     (***)  Thankfully, this is one of the only Pearl Jam videos. It wisely builds a story line apart from Eddie Vedder’s usual pained, hemorrhoidal-Muppet facial contortions. The story line is one that actually seems more relevant now than in its time – like the song, the video follows an adolescent boy on the road to Columbine territory. His classmates don’t like him, the pre-algebra is hard, his parents just don’t understand and, worst of all, Ticketmaster is screwing him over at every turn. Even though the subject matter of "Jeremy" seems relevant, it isn’t rendered with much real feeling. The video relies on its strobe lights, detached cinematography and frequent title cards (the most pretentious of which simply reads, “Peer”), not to mention the scene where the boy in question wraps himself in the American flag and stands vigilant before a wall of fire. All the while, it intercuts performance shots of Vedder, who by the end of the video looks like he’s passing a gallstone. Still, this is one of the better alternative videos out there and one of the few Pearl Jam songs I like, if just for the lyric, “He gnashed his teeth and bit the recess lady’s breast.” In my old age, I should be so lucky. –AH 

18. George Michael – Freedom (1990) 
     (****)  If there’s any single benefit to gay people putting out music videos, it’s that they’re obsessed with fashion and supermodels. I don’t know if George Michael wants to be Linda Evangelista, but his best idea with the “Freedom” video was to stay out of it and let the supermodels do all the lip synch work. This is seven minutes of beautiful people lounging about their houses, lip synching “Freedom.” (It validates that frequent talk-show revelation from gorgeous models and actresses: “No, I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m really just a solitary person. Most nights, I stay home, take a hot bath and lip synch George Michael songs.) It’s no coincidence that George skipped out on the “Freedom” video, either. At the time, he was resentful of his success and determined to put an end to his teenybopper pop image. In the video, we see all of the paraphernalia from “Faith” literally burn – the leather jacket, the acoustic guitar, he even blows up the Wurlitzer jukebox. Leave it to George to get pissed off that 13 million people went out and bought his album. (Look at the bright side, Mr. Michael, you certainly don’t have that problem anymore.) All bitterness aside, “Freedom” is the best video in the George Michael canon and an early success for director David Fincher. Who would have thought the guy who made this would go on to direct Fight Club? Well, me, but then I like to picture Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford in a basement, kicking the shit out of each other. –AH 

17. nine inch nails – closer (1994) 
     (***½)  This is the only video I can actually stand from our lowercase friend Trent Reznor. It’s full of ugly browns and reds, with Trent in his basement playhouse singing in front of a side of beef, twirling like a man possessed (“There is no Trent, only Zuul.”) and overseeing half-hatched eggs and a spinning pig’s head with an apple in its mouth. And this is the same director, Mark Romanek, who made the video “Jesus Freak” for DC Talk. Some of the images in "closer" – particularly those involving snakes and little black sambos in top hats – are just gratuitously weird, but overall “closer” manages to sum up exactly what it’s like to be an alternafreak with unwashed hair. And, obviously, it’s the combination of creepiness and accessibility that Marilyn Manson can only wish for. The “Scene Missing” cards are also a nice touch. –AH 

16. The Police – Every Breath You Take (1983) 
     (**½)  This video is on the countdown simply because of the opening dissolve shot, where a cigarette ashtray fades into a snare drum. As such, I refuse to acknowledge it any further. –AH 

15. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) (1997) 
     (***)  It took this video many months to grow on me. I hated it at first, and I still would never buy a Missy Elliot album, but I doubt this could be a more competent combination. Missy's laid-back rapping style, tight Timbaland production and a trippy Hype Williams video to match. And I can’t fault Missy for wearing an inflatable trash bag for half the video. She knows she’ll never win any beauty contests and dresses accordingly, kind of like a hip-hop Cyndi Lauper. (Random thought: Why hasn’t anyone built a rap song around “She Bop” yet?) “The Rain” is good stuff, but it really doesn’t deserve its place in the Top 25. –AH 

14. a-ha – Take on Me (1985) 
a-ha - Take on Me
     (****)  This is the greatest video of the ‘80s, period. At the time, no video like this had ever been made or even attempted. It’s got a synth line that can never be properly remade, not by the band, and definitely not by trumpet-playing frat boys. How many of us have wished a comic-book character would reach out and pull us out of our mundane world? The band slides in and out of animation as they act out the scenes of the comic book, which is an effect so cool you have to shake your head in disbelief when you think about how little it probably cost to do. Happy ending? Of course there is, as the hero escapes from the comic into his lover’s world, and we all say “Awwww…” –JW 
a-ha - Take on Me

13. R.E.M. – Losing My Religion (1991) 
     (**)  “Oh, life. It’s bigger. It’s bigger than you. You are not me.” Mr. Stipe, we regret to inform you that the position you have applied for with the Hallmark Greeting Card Co. has already been filled. We will keep your name on file and consider you for any future openings… Okay, enough bad conceptualization. We’re all intimately familiar with “Losing My Religion,” I’m sure. It was the greatest commercial success R.E.M. had and a catchy song that will no doubt outlive the decade that spawned it. Naturally, the video is bogged down with the usual R.E.M. nonsense. Our gentle Christ figure for the evening? Michael Stipe, of course, and he even has hair. As he dances around the living room with all the rhythm of Puffy, the other band members stand in silence, refusing to comment. I imagine that’s how most evenings are on the R.E.M. tour bus. “Losing My Religion” is full of ridiculous religious imagery, probably based on the song’s title alone. (The actual theme of the song has little to do with religion, from what I interpret.) An old-man angel suffers from body stigmata, one of Stipe’s twink-boys is on the cross and a black angel squats on a chair. Also, a bottle of milk is left perched precariously on the windowsill. I don’t know if that’s religious imagery, exactly, but the camera certainly spends enough time tracing its slow-motion fall from the sill. Good song, rich colors, obnoxious imagery. Two stars. –AH 

12. Michael Jackson – Beat It (1983) 
     (*)  I have a certain place in my heart for Michael Jackson songs – “Billie Jean,” “Wanna Be Startin' Something,” “Rock With You,” and a lot of the album tracks on Dangerous – but “Beat It” is even harder to take seriously than the average Jackson hit. Built around a simple Eddie Van Halen guitar line and an evensimpler “Why can’t we all just get along?” theme, the song just isn’t very good. The video, on the other hand, is godawful. I don’t know how "Beat It" came off in 1983, but these days it seems a whole lot funnier than the Weird Al “Eat It” parody video. We first see Michael lying in bed and sporting a t-shirt with a giant synthesizer pattern. Outside, two street gangs are gearing up for a rumble. These people don’t actually look like gang members, of course. They look more like the stereotype extras you see during the Warner Bros. studio climaxes of Blazing Saddles and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. One of the gangs transports its members via a flatbed truck, for God's sake. Mike gets wind of the fight, tosses on his red leather jacket and heads out to stop it. The “fight” is nothing more than a ten-second Mexican standoff that is promptly broken up by Jackson, who then leads both gangs in a funky dance step. Absurd? Ridiculous? Unbelievable? Try all three. I have a feeling “Beat It” was only put on the countdown because it was the video that made the people at MTV take off their white hoods and start playing some black-people music. Too bad this isn't actually black music. --AH 

11. Duran Duran – Hungry Like the Wolf (1983) 
     (***)  This video comes from my favorite victims of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Duran Duran.* Simon Le Bon is down in Africa, a big game hunter whose prey turns out to be a woman. Le Bon would make a horrible Indiana Jones villain, I fear. “Hungry Like the Wolf” has a lot of detached nature imagery (a tracking shot that begins with an elephant and pans over to Simon on the prowl) and stuff that’s just there to look good (a native boy pushing an enormous spare tire down the street). The Durans made some good videos in their time, and this is one of the best, but somehow I don’t see a face-painted African bushwoman dating this guy. Even if, as he claims, her mouth is alive. –AH 
     * = I don’t know if any of the members of Duran Duran actually has HPV, commonly known as genital warts, but what are the odds any of them will actually see this and sue me for libel? 

10. Madonna – Express Yourself (1989) 
Madonna - Express Yourself
Madonna - Express Yourself
     (****)  Sometimes money can buy happiness. This overblown Metropolis send-up was a serious production, with a massive blue set and a lot of shirtless factory workers. The story? Madonna lives in the big house with a bored black cat, wandering around huge, too-furnished rooms while the laborers do push-ups below. By the second verse, she’s lost most of her clothes, having changed into a pushup bra, and begins thrusting in silhouette. By the second chorus, she’s wearing a man’s suit and monocle, grabbing her crotch. By the bridge, she’s lying nude in a bed, neck chained in subservience. From there, it’s time to slink along the floor and lick milk from the cat bowl, which I guess a… male… cat… would find sexy. Finally, that factory worker she has her eye on shows up and the fun begins. You could probably say Madonna represents every type of woman in this video – the bored socialite, the animalistic slut, the chained slave and the monocle-clad crotch grabber in a man’s suit. I hope to meet a few more of the latter type in my life. In my old age, I should be so lucky. –AH 
Madonna - Express Yourself
Madonna - Express Yourself

9. 2Pac f/Dr. Dre – California Love (1996) 
Dr. Dre & 2Pac - California Love
     (***½)  “California Love” is rap’s “Thriller,” an ultra-expensive Hype Williams epic that parodies Mad Max. (In less-PC times, I would gleefully refer to this video as "Mad Blax," but you didn’t hear that from me.) It even sees 2Pac and Dr. Dre in their own Thunderdome, having long since beaten and evicted Tina Turner. The first couple minutes is just a typical Hype party video in a post-apocalyptic setting, but as the video rolls on, a land rover-slash-dirt bike race develops. The over-the-top setup is perfect for the always-obnoxious 2Pac, who gets to drive a giant go-kart and frolic in front of a raging bonfire. Dre even gets into the act by wearing an eye patch, which he looks thoroughly stupid in. This was the first video that made me notice that Dre never knows what to do onscreen when he isn’t rapping – he usually just stands there and waves his arms around a little. And you know the budget for this video alone had to have been more than the last two 2Pac movies, Gridlock’d and Gang Related. –AH 
Dr. Dre & 2Pac - California Love

8. Robert Palmer – Addicted to Love (1986) 
     (**)  Why? And in the Top 10, no less. I don’t even think VH1 would put this in the Top 10 of all-time anymore. Robert Palmer is the guy who wouldn’t get off the stage at Karaoke Night. He’s the James Bond of pop music. No, fuck that, he’s one of your friends’ dads who tries so hard to be cool that he makes a mockery of himself. There are a lot of over-the-hill pop musicians who carry that distinction, but I think Palmer has been that way since his youth. We all know the “Addicted to Love” video – the “angry sunset” backdrop, the shirt-and-tie microphone-stand caressing, the Robert Palmer girls mechanically moving their heads to the music. It was influential and new, yes, but it was also smarmy and annoying. He didn’t mean to turn us on, indeed. –AH 

7. Beastie Boys – Sabotage (1994) 
Beastie Boys - Sabotage
Beastie Boys - Sabotage
     (****)  Spike Jonze has since proven himself with Being John Malkovich, but it was the music-video universe that allowed him to cut his teeth on visual humor and bizarre images. There’s no way to do the “Sabotage” video justice in print. It’s a brilliant parody of the Starsky and Hutch ‘70s cop universe with action, tight editing and nice touches – the opening credits sequence, for example. “Sabotage” is hilarious, intricate, even convincing, and it really validates the medium of music video. I am outclassed; I will shut up now. –AH 
Beastie Boys - Sabotage

6. Guns ‘N Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine (1987) 
     (**½)  “Sweet Child” is one of the better guitar-pop hits of the ‘80s with a fairly simple and only fairly influential video. I don’t know why this is #6, but I count my blessings – “November Rain” is nowhere to be seen in the Top 25. This was directed by Nigel Dick, who has since moved on to the likes of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. “Sweet Child” is little more than color and grainy black-and-white footage of the band playing (complete with a slow pan of Axl Rose’s arm tattoos) and Axl Rose shimmying in his trademark Aunt Jemima doo rag. And it makes me notice, watching all these videos back to back, that Puffy, Michael Stipe and Axl Rose all do the same disgusting, rhythmless dance. Axl's probably the most soulful of the three, oddly enough. This may well be the best GNR song out there (although I usually lean more toward “Mr. Brownstone”), and it definitely has one of the best guitar solos of any Billboard #1 hit. Five bucks says James uses some form of the word “shred” in his review to describe the Slash solo. That's assuming James ever posts a review. I'd lay down another $10 that says he won't. –AH 

5. Run DMC f/Aerosmith – Walk This Way (1986) 
Run DMC f/Aerosmith - Walk This Way
     (**½)  The video for “Walk This Way” is like a sloppy drunken night – it's fun while it lasts, but it makes you sick the entire next day. There are but two sets in this video. On one, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry jam one of their old hits. On the other, the boys of Run DMC begin rapping out verses from their drab studio. Tyler spends the entire first verse trying to break through the wall with the butt of his microphone stand and identify the source of this hideously appropriate remake. He finally bursts through the plaster, thrusts his head into the hole in the wall and belts out the chorus. (RANDOM RUN DMC GUY: You know you payin’ for that wall, right, honky?  TYLER: Dig-a-dig-a DOW! Yow! Yow!) Turnabout comes during the second verse, as Run DMC crashes an Aerosmith concert and drops a sign advertising themselves, to more pained yowls from Tyler. Eventually, the DMC guys teach Tyler a simple dance step (ME: How many takes before Steven Tyler got that little dance down?  JAMES: “How many bottles of Wild Turkey?” is the question.) As we all know, the collaboration between Aerosmith and Run DMC was beneficial for both parties. Aerosmith got a lengthy, undeserved comeback, and Run DMC got their breakthrough hit. Tyler and Perry didn’t wear shoelaces for an entire week, and the guys from Run DMC all went out and bought a set of fishnet crotch pants. Had Aerosmith’s electric bill not been three months past due, we never would have gotten this guilty-pleasure collaboration for the ages. –AH 
Run DMC f/Aerosmith - Walk This Way

4. Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer (1986) 
     (***½)  This video is impressive and primitive all at once. It begins with a microscope closeup of Gabriel’s sperm cells, followed by similarly intrusive shots of blood pumping through his arteries, wax hardening in his ears and skid marks forming in his underwear. Most of “Sledgehammer” was filmed via a painful, frame-at-a-time stop-motion animation technique. This allowed Claymation bumper cars to come to life, a roller coaster drawing to jump around on the chalkboard behind Gabriel and the sky to run across his face, but it also gave the video a case of the Fiona Apple Heroin Jitters™. The best-aged parts of "Sledgehammer" are the ones Gabriel isn’t even in – the pair of dancing, skinned chickens, for example. By the time the hoard of soulsistas appears, the video almost has a Wang Chung feel to it. But I can forgive that; the sheer amounts of effort and invention that went into “Sledgehammer” will make the entire project watchable for some time. –AH 

3. Madonna – Vogue (1990)   
Madonna - Vogue
Madonna - Vogue
     (***½)  Madonna tried to enter the ‘90s with elegance. She gave her best-received movie performance in Dick Tracy, started wearing designer clothes and released this ode to megalomania. It’s the only song anyone remembers from the I’m Breathless album, which I bought for 49 cents, but “Vogue” is definitely one of the defining Madonna singles. The song and video have become so overkilled they now play as self-parody, with the first appearance of the cone bra, Madonna in a see-through shirt and lots of gay dancers. The black-and-white look is still definitely elegant, though, and Madonna reeks of beauty. Everything is tailored and pristine, which masks the fact that some of the vogue poses are downright embarrassing. Some of it just looks like slight of hand, like the dancers should be pulling quarters from your ear or something. “Vogue” was the last we would hear of the “old” Madonna. After this, everything was either controversial or adult-contemporary. –AH 
Madonna - Vogue

2. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991) 
     (***½)  This isn’t a spectacular video, but as everyone will tell you, it’s a massively influential one. And it really sums up the attitudes of the period. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is filmed in a high-school gym in front of a simple backdrop, with Kurt Cobain tranquilized and whiny and the crowd ready to burn something. The cheerleader costumes sport anarchy signs and the janitor is creepy; everything just seems to match up, and in the end, the place is destroyed. Fitting. You know, I’ve had the Nevermind album forever, and I always start it at track two. The song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has been destroyed for me by alternative radio programmers, and that lessens the video’s impact somewhat, but I don’t get the Nirvana backlash most of my friends seem to subscribe to. The alternative period is over, and it’s easy to dismiss Nirvana as a lot of screaming and guitar distortion, but they were responsible for some of the decade’s most heartfelt and kickass music. I never liked Cobain much, and I’ll never forgive him for siccing Courtney Love on us, but give the man a little credit. –AH 

1. Michael Jackson – Thriller (1984) 
     (***)  Due to strong personal convictions, I must emphasize that this review in no way endorses a belief in the occult. Now that I’ve gotten the obligatory bad disclaimer joke out of the way, I have to admit “Thriller” is probably the most overrated video of all-time. Yes, it’s 15 minutes long; yes, it cost a lot of money; and, yes, no one has attempted anything like it since. But let’s be honest – this video is predictable, wooden and thoroughly overblown. The prologue lasts for six minutes; we open on a clear black night, a clear white moon. It’s the ‘50s, and Michael Jackson’s car has run out of gas. His hoop-skirted girlfriend (Ona Ray) walks down the deserted road with him, and he asks her to be his girl. (HIM: I’m not like other guys.  HER: Of course not. That’s why I love you.) What Mike means when he says he’s not like other guys is not that he likes other guys (no, that's a given) but that he’s a werewolf, a werewolf who likes to ham it up by knocking over trees in a very unconvincing fashion. Cut to 1984, where the red-jacketed Michael of Christmas Present is watching himself onscreen. His girlfriend (still Ona Ray) walks out, and he follows. And sings to her on the street and has Vincent Price raise the zombies from the dead and turns out to be a zombie himself, etc. etc. We’ve all seen this video; there’s no need to delve into its psyche. There are good elements to "Thriller" – the part where Mike leads the zombies in a ghoulish dance will always be a classic video moment – but otherwise it’s just a case of a man with too much money and influence sinking his hubris into something that’s really not all that special to begin with. Carson Daly’s justification for putting this in the #1 slot was that it “upped the ante.” True, it did push music video forward, but MTV wasn’t going to be a Flock of Seagulls forever. If Michael Jackson hadn’t done “Thriller,” somebody would have made an ambitious video that broke out of the norm. “Thriller” as a five- or six-minute video would have been dynamite, but as it is, we’re stuck with an entire quarter-hour of it, even the Vincent Price “rap.” Mike, that’s not a rap. The words he’s saying rhyme, but that’s not a rap. Interesting how MTV picked this as its #1 video after securing an exclusive interview with Jackson. –AH


Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions