Evolution of the Music Video: A chronological glimpse at recent music video history


The music video- the visual component to any good song that shines a new light on our favorite artists. With so many being constantly produced and the beauty of the Youtube age, we picked out what we think are the top 12 most iconic music videos that have shaped our generation.  




The Buggles- Video Killed the Radio Star, 1981

The Buggles Video Killed The Radio Star by rvdgu2006

Where better place to start than at the very beginning? Debuted as the first music video ever to air on MTV in 1981, The Buggles’ Video Killed the Radio Star will forever live on with such an outstanding title. Featuring glorious 80’s sci-fi at its center, this video is nothing short of a classic.


Michael Jackson-Thriller, 1983

At nearly 14 minutes long, this video is basically a short film. What could possibly be called the most influential music video ever, Michael Jackson’sThriller still stands as inspiration for artists today. It was the first music video to ever receive the honor of being inducted to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant in 2009 and still holds it ground as a masterpiece.


A-Ha- Take on Me,1985

What is actually the second video made for Norwegian pop synth group A-ha’s Take on Me, made headlines for its combination of pencil-sketch animation and live-action film, creating a love story between two worlds. Jumping between the real world and the action of comic book animation, this video is on our list for its creative take on a music video love story.


Aerosmith & Run DMC- Walk This Way, 1986

What do you get when Run DMC and Aerosmith collaborate? A literal tearing down of walls between the hip hop world and the world of rock. In a video that’s just as catchy as it is silly, Walk This Way has strolled its way on to the lists of classics and seems to be staying there.


Madonna-Vogue, 1990

What does Madonna do better than telling mass audiences what the new fad is? That’s just what happened in Vogue. Influenced by the 1920s and 30s golden film age aura, Madonna showcases the previously underground style of dance, “Voguing” in an elegant black and white setting. The only question we have left is “why didn’t it stick around?” But somethings are better left unanswered.


Weezer- Buddy Holly, 1995

Weezer’s iconic Buddy Holly music video uses some good ol’ movie magic and places the band on the stage of Arnold’s Drive-in Diner from no other than Happy Days. With cameo’s from original cast members and a body double allowing Fonzie to dance along to the performance, Weezer gets major creativity points for this video which also includes a commercial break.


Jamiroquai-Virtual Insanity, 1997

If you can figure out how its done, let me know. But one thing’s for sure: the floors don’t move. Its a combination of the walls moving individually and a layering of each shot that provides Virtual Insanity its iconic shifting room. Jay Kay, the band’s frontman only adds to the dizzying aspects of the room with his sliding,  gliding and shuffling dance moves all while just barely missing the couches and chairs that occupy the space. Everything comes together in such a mesmerizing way that you can hardly notice the giant top hat being worn by Kay. Nevertheless, if you’ve never seen this video before, its one that everybody must watch.


Britney Spears-Baby One More Time,1998

Before the crazies, we all knew Britney Spears in her preppy school girl attire and famed braids prancing around school halls. Is there anything more '90s than spontaneous choreographed dance making us wish our friends were that cool too. So maybe we never broke out into to dance, but we still can’t help breaking out into song, right along with our girl Brit.


Fatboy Slim- Weapon of Choice, 2001

Maybe not what first pop’s into mind as a classic, but c’mon its Christopher Walken! Who knew the actor was trained in musical theater dance and even contributed to the choreography of the piece, and boy does he strut his stuff.


OK GO- Here it Goes Again, 2006

Ok Bucknellians, time to show off just how talented we are at the gym- D1 treadmill dancing anyone? Done in a single take after a modest seventeen attempts OK GO’s athletic music video premiered on youtube reaching 50 million hits and eventually reposted with an additional 10 million views. In 2007 it ended up winning the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video, quite an honor for the “make it yourself” type video.



Beyoncé- Single Ladies, 2008

Simple. Beautiful. Iconic. How else should we even begin to sum up Beyoncé’s Single Ladies video. Three dancers, black leotards and a plain background skyrocketed this video to success and inspired many-a parody. Very few can claim to have never attempted the dance or at least the signature hand-twist, and that, is a video well made.




Psy-Gangnam Style, 2012

2012 Love it or hate it you can’t deny Gangnam Style was a world-wide phenomenon. From its signature “riding a horse” dance to Psy’s iconic combed back hair and suit and bowtie, audiences everywhere found something to love, proven by it being the first youtube video to reach 1 billion views and rising. With so many videos year after year, there’s totally some that didn’t make the cut but what stands true is our culture’s appreciation for a good music video. With 2013 just underway, there’s only so much more we can hope to see and be stunned by. Who knows what will be the next big hit?