30. “Shock the Monkey” Peter Gabriel (1983)

Peter Gabriel is often lauded for his video work, although most of his innovative music videos are overshadowed by his greatest video achievement (which we’ll get to later).  Frankly, I still have no idea what the hell 1982’s “Shock the Monkey” is about, but it has everything – monkeys, midgets, dot matrix printouts… The song is apparently about lovers’ jealousy, but the video looks a lot more like paranoid schizophrenia to me.  Whatever the intended meaning may be, the fact that we can have a lengthy discussion on trying to decipher the video 29 years later is commendable in my book.  Keep in mind that this was from a time where the majority of music videos were straight up, no frills performances by the artists with little in the way of visual or narrative complexity.  And Peter Gabriel’s work is nothing if not complex.-Dr. Gonzo

29. “Me, Myself and I” De La Soul (1989)

The gold chain era of hip-hop came to a grinding halt with this video from Long Island trio De La Soul. The fellas’ mismatched clothing, asymmetrical hairdos and Africa medallions were a stark contrast from what passed for “cool” in rap music at the time, and De La were unfortunately labeled nerds, or even worse, “soft”. Nevertheless, this, their breakthrough single and video, cruised to Gold status and a #1 berth on the R&B singles chart. It remains the biggest hit in the group’s lengthy-and legendary-career.

28. “Bad” Michael Jackson (1987)

I vividly remember seeing the “Bad” video when it premiered.  I’m fairly certain that I had not seen the full 18-minute version of the clip since then, until Sony released the VisionDVD set last year.  Although this is the second single from the album (following “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,”) it was the first time we saw Michael in video form since “Thriller.”  How does one follow “Thriller?”  You get Scorcese!  Although in later years, Jackson’s long form videos sometimes stretched for a narrative, with “Bad,” he still pulls it off without seeming self indulgent.  Although Jackson’s ability to pull off a tough guy persona is questionable, the narrative, costuming and choreography are of such a calibre that we’ll suspend disbelief to accept MJ as menacing.  Famously, the song was originally to be a duet that would have put Prince in the role of Wesley Snipes’ character (talk about suspending disbelief!).  But as the story goes, Prince pointed to the song’s opening line, “Your butt is mine.”  Sayeth the Purple One “I’m not gonna say that to you, and you sure ain’t gonna say that to me.”

But I digress.  Although “Bad” didn’t top “Thriller” (did anything?), it remains one of the most memorable MJ videos, even in its truncated form.  “So that’s the way it goes down, huh?”-Dr. Gonzo

27. “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Tina Turner (1984)

This is how comebacks are done. She’d freed herself from the clutches of her husband Ike over half a decade before, and as she sauntered down a city street in a short short skirt and tall, tall heels (supporting those long, long legs), she sang the titular question with a knowing inflection in her voice. This video created imagery that’s stayed with Tina for the remainder of her career and was one of the major clips (not to mention singles) of summer 1984. It gave Tina her one and only #1 hit and took home the Grammy for Record of the Year the following February.

26. “Walk This Way” Run-DMC (1986)

Talk about a game-changer. Run-DMC had already fused rock and rap together with “Rock Box” and “King of Rock”, among the first hip-hop videos played on MTV. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith were pretty much washed up, having not scored anything vaguely resembling a hit in half a decade. Put them together? Celluloid (and music video) magic. “Walk This Way” became the first song to storm the top 10 of the pop charts, and Aerosmith’s career was revitalized. Music video moments don’t get more iconic than Steven Tyler (and those big-ass lips) busting through the wall to sing the chorus.

25. “The Pleasure Principle” Janet Jackson (1987)

The name “Jackson” is synonymous with big-budget epics, whether you’re talking about Michael or his little sister Janet (maybe Jermaine’s “Dynamite” counts too?). However, Janet’s most memorable video clip features just her, dancing solo in an abandoned warehouse. Little Penny from “Good Times” had grown up to be downright sexy (and in a dramatic contrast from the brassiere-busting ensembles she’d become known for in a decade’s time, she was fully dressed). She does a backflip, tips over a chair and basically serves as a mesmerizing presence for this video’s entire five minutes. And does it all by her lonesome. Take THAT, Michael.

24. “Little Red Corvette” Prince (1983)

For such a simple video, boy does this work well with the song.  Prince saunters up to the mic, ready to get his seduction on.  No doubt, Prince would make more elaborate videos later (and some disturbingly simple ones. I’m looking at you, “Sign ‘O’ the Times,” “When 2 R In Love” and “Alphabet St.”).  But what I love about “Little Red Corvette” and it’s sibling video “1999” is the youthful energy and excitement (not to mention sex appeal) that Prince exudes.  Watching these clips now, you get a sense that Prince new that the success of the 1999 album was just the beginning, and the he was on the verge of something huge.  When he looks into the camera, gives a smirk and a wink, it’s as if to say, “you think this is something?  Hop in and hold on for a hell of a ride.”  And ride we did for the rest of the decade. –Dr. Gonzo

23. “Head Over Heels” Tears for Fears (1985)

No one levitated at any of the libraries I went to. There weren’t any monkeys, either. But these elements combined to make one hell of a memorable music video. Roland Orzabal, Curt Smith, and Roland’s awesome mullet saw their careers soar with the third single from the multi-platinum Songs from the Big Chair album. While Roland was shyly flirting with the mondo-spectacled librarian, she was probably wondering if she should ask him for hair tips.

22. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” Twisted Sister (1984)

The art of teenage rebellion encapsulated in five minutes. Dee Snider and his band of merry misfits stormed MTV in the fall of 1984 with this song and video and it wasn’t long before Tipper Gore and the PMRC came calling, claiming indecency. Apparently, what Tipper wanted to do with her life WASN’T rock. Maybe she should’ve married the kid in the video’s dad instead of Al.-Blerd

Was there any better rock and roll teenage rebellion song in the 1980s than Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It?”  The glam metal anthem peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, no doubt fueled by the accompanying video.  Mark Metcalf gave what is probably his best known performance as the father, itself a resurrection of his Neidermayer character from Animal House.  The video brought Twisted Sister into the mainstream, to the consternation of many parents, I’m sure.  The band issued two more albums in their initial run, but never came close to repeating the success of the Stay Hungry album or “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” –Dr. Gonzo 


Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It by Warner-Music

21. “One” Metallica (1989)

Metallica famously “refused” to make videos for MTV for many years until the release of their fourth album “…And Justice For All”. Being Metallica, their first stab at a music video was of course a wild success. Black and white performance piece interspersed with clips from the film “Johnny Got His Gun” put this video in stark contrast to the colorful videos featuring scantily clad women that were all over MTV at the time. Lyrically, this song was also the polar opposite of most of the songs on MTV at the time. True to form, Metallica did things their way, stuck out like a sore thumb and triumphed completely.-Nick

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