Music notes

History of music videos

  • The Beatles

    Starred in their first feature film A Hard Day's Night, directed by Richard Lester. Shot in black-and-white and presented as a mock documentary,
  • The Who

    The Who featured in several promotional clips in this period, beginning with their 1965 clip for I Can't Explain. Their plot clip for Happy Jack (1966) shows the band acting like a gang of thieves.
  • Subterranean Homesick Blues, Bob Dylan 1965.

    Dylan stood in an alley, with poet Alan Ginsberg in the background, and displayed cards of the lyrics. "It was not performed - that was what was remarkable about it," says Narelle Gee, programmer for the ABC's rage. "This is still one of the most picked videos by our guest programmers. The Strokes think it's the coolest thing ever."
  • Sheer Heart Attack

    Sheer Heart Attack is the third album by the British rock group Queen, released in November 1974. It was produced by Queen and Roy Thomas Baker and distributed by EMI in the United Kingdom, and Elektra in the United States. The album launched the band to mainstream popularity both in the UK and internationally: the first single, "Killer Queen" reached No. 2 in the British charts and provided Queen with their first US Top 20 hit, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard singles chart.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen, 1976

    As melodramatic as the music, the clip uses mood lighting, smoke and mirrors to deify the band. Science Daily's online encyclopedia says the clip defined "the complete visual grammar" for future studio performance videos.
  • ABBA Dancing Queen

    "Dancing Queen" is a pop song recorded by Swedish pop group ABBA. It was released in August 1976, and is commonly regarded as one of the most successful singles of the 1970s.
  • A Long Way To The Top, AC/DC, 1977

    Driving round Melbourne on the back of a truck with a bunch of bagpipers proved a band doesn't need a studio to create visual impact.
  • Ashes to Ashes, David Bowie, 1980.

    The psychedelically-coloured clowns, ballerinas and lunatics established the imagery for a generation of "new romantic" clips.
  • Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads, 1981

    David Byrne as a twitchy preacher showed how singers could portray comic characters instead of pretending to perform.
  • Girls on Film, Duran Duran, 1981.

    Banned by the BBC, this clip used female nudity, now a standard device, to launch a band whose career derived from their mastery of the video. Duran Duran's founder, John Taylor, says now: "I think it was a basically a cheap, blatantly exploitative device on behalf of our managers just to get us some publicity I remember being a bit embarrassed. You put a bunch of guys in a room with a naked girl and it turns them into idiots. It wasn't a great experience for any of us."
  • Video Killed The Radio Star, The Buggles, 1981

    Set in a tinselly sci-fi future, with the band as mad scientists, this fantasy launched MTV in America and identified the moment when "Pictures came and broke your heart".
  • Talking to a Stranger, Hunters and Collectors, 1982

    Richard Lowenstein's gritty portrait of the Australian outback led Michael Hutchence to hire him for INXS's videos.
  • Every Breath You Take, The Police, 1983

    This sumptuous study in black and white, with Sting on double bass, won Best Cinematography at the inaugural MTV awards.
  • The Power and the Passion, Midnight Oil, 1983

    Proving that politics and pop can mix, Peter Garrett did his spastic dancing in front of flashing commercial images and the sign "I love a plundered country, a land of corporate gains".
  • Michael Jackson's Thriller video

    "Thriller" was adapted into a highly successful music video, known independently as Michael Jackson's Thriller. At fourteen minutes the video is substantially longer than the song, which ties together a narrative featuring Jackson and actress Ola Ray in a setting heavily inspired by horror films of the 1950s.
  • Money For Nothing, Dire Straits, 1985

    This computer animation launched MTV Europe and satirised working class male attitudes to pop stars: "That ain't workin', that's the way you do it, You play the guitar on the MTV".
  • A-Ha: Take on Me, 1985

    This partly animated, partly filmed tale of a girl dragged into a comic strip showed the multimedia possibilities of the form.
  • Sledge Hammer, Peter Gabriel, 1986

    This early claymation work by the Aardman team, later of Wallace and Grommet and Chicken Run fame, won nine MTV awards.
  • Addicted To Love, Robert Palmer, 1986

    Since the bands are only pretending to play their instruments, why not have aloof models pretend to play instead, and make a black and red fashion statement?
  • Walk This Way, Run-DMC and Aerosmith, 1986

    In adjoining rooms, white rockers compete with black rappers, and ultimately smash through the wall to make a merger. The visual metaphor was the wedge that forced hip-hop into MTV
  • Candy

    "Candy" is a song by funk group Cameo, released as the second single from their 1986 album Word Up!. It reached number twenty-one on the Hot 100 and number one on the R&B charts in 1987
  • Express Yourself, Madonna, 1989

    The most expensive video made to this point, directed by David Fincher in art deco style borrowed from the silent classic Metropolis, it just pips Madonna's other video triumphs - Like A Prayer, Justify My Love and Vogue.
  • Jeremy, Pearl Jam, 1992

    This anthem of anguish about bullying and teen suicide, which ends with a blood spattered schoolroom, provoked such controversy that the band made no more videos for six years.
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana, 1993

    The surging energy of a school audience going out of control introduced Seattle grunge and pulled the focus back to performance.
  • Sabotage, the Beastie Boys, 1994

    With this parody of 70s cop shows, director Spike Jonze brought slapstick humour back to a medium taking itself too seriously.
  • Come to Daddy, Aphex Twin, 1997

    This horror tale of an old lady terrorised by children drew English director Chris Cunningham to the attention of the queen of avant-garde clips, Bjork, who said: "When the Aphex Twin video happened, everybody knew 'Here comes a genius' and were getting really really excited." Cunningham went on to turn Bjork into a white robot in All is Full of Love and Madonna into a black witch in Frozen.
  • Praise You, Fatboy Slim, 1999

    At the end of a decade in which videos had started to cost millions, DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, decided he hated the medium because "all the good videos had been done". Then Spike Jonze made this cheap and clunky "documentary" about an amateur dance group busking outside a cinema. The simplicity and humour earned it the votes of MTV viewers as "the best video of all time".
  • Weapon of Choice, Fatboy Slim, 2001

    Spike Jonze changes style again, and wins six MTV awards for showing Christopher Walken as a burnt-out businessman inspired by the music to fly across a hotel lobby.
  • The White Stripes, Fell In Love With A Girl, 2002

    Just when you thought all media had been tried, director Michel Gondry used Lego blocks to animate the drummer and the guitarist. It took 15 animators six weeks, and started a Lego revival.
  • Rihanna's Disturbia video

    "Disturbia" was a commercial success, and peaked at number one in Belgium and New Zealand and became a top-ten hit in more than twenty countries including Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for two consecutive weeks.