The Best VMA “Video of the Year” Music Videos Of All Time
In 1984 The Cars released their innovative music video for “You Might Think.” It was the first video ever awarded the MTV Video Music Awards’ biggest title–“Video of the Year.” While the special effects might seem outdated now, this music video was truly inventive for its time. It is one of the first music videos ever to include computer graphics. “You Might Think” helped pave the way for all the daring and captivating “Video of the Year” winners that followed.
In honor of the upcoming 2014 MTV Video Music Awards here’s our rundown of the best “Video of the Year” winners in VMA history. Beyoncé (nominated this year for “Drunk in Love,”) made the list with her iconic “Single Ladies” video from 2008. And this year’s favorite comeback act, OutKast, are featured for their unforgettable “Hey Ya!” video from 2004.
Get ready to reminisce because come of these videos date back to the ‘80s–timeless hits like Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.” Once you’re done watching the greatest videos from years past, be sure to tune in and catch this year’s winners, Sunday August 24 at 9/8C during the 2014 Video Music Awards.
1. Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer” (1987)
British singer-songwriter, Peter Gabriel released the single “Sledgehammer” back in 1987, and it became a total hit after the release of its spectacular video. Directed by Stephen R. Johnson, the video boasts a number of striking feats–from claymation, to pixilation, and stop-motion animation, this video is quite the masterpiece. After one watch, it comes at no surprise that “Sledgehammer” won a record-breaking nine awards at the 1987 VMAs.
2. Madonna, “Ray Of Light” (1998)
Madonna’s acclaimed single from 1998, “Ray of Light” also had a stunning video to accompany it. Nabbing not only the 1998 VMA “Video of the Year” award, but also a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video–”Ray of LIght” is one of Madonna’s most-celebrated videos. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund, the music video features time-lapse images of cities throughout the world, and Madonna’s always-killer dance moves.
3. Beyoncé, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (2008)
Speaking of killer dance moves, remember that Beyoncé song from 2008–“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”? The quadruple-platinum single was an international hit, owing a lot of thanks to the massively popular music video. Putting Beyoncé’s impeccable dance skills front and center, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” could be one of the most impressive VMA “Video of Year” winners to date. We’re sure Kanye would agree.
4. Lauryn Hill, “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” (1998)
The debut single from R&B singer-songwriter and rapper Lauryn Hill, “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” became her first and only Billboard number-one hit. So, of course, this single had an amazing video to accompany it. With a split-screen of a 1960s-styled Hill versus a modern-day version of the singer, the video pays a unique homage to the origins of hip-hop.
5. Sinead O’Connor, “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990)
Sinead O’Connor’s ‘90s smash, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” was not only a winner of 1990 “Video of the Year” award but also a huge, international hit. The video is mainly close ups of O’Connor singing the emotional lyrics, and shedding two, heartbreaking tears towards the video’s close.
6. Katy Perry, “Firework” (2010)
Katy Perry’s 2010 mega-hit, “Firework,” earned the singer two Grammy nods, and featured a touching music video to go along with song’s motivational message. Directed by Dave Meyers, the video not only focuses on Perry, but the stories of several young people overcoming life’s obstacles. And there are, of course, tons of fireworks.
7. The Smashing Pumpkins, “Tonight, Tonight” (1996)
The captivating “Tonight, Tonight” video from alternative-rockers The Smashing Pumpkins was a critically acclaimed success in ‘96. Winning the “Video of the Year” award, and a Grammy nod for its silent-film-inspired theme, “Tonight, Tonight” is definitely worth a watch.
8. R.E.M., “Losing My Religion” (1991)
The celebrated single that helped bring American rock group, R.E.M., mainstream-mass appeal, “Losing My Religion” also garnered huge acclaim for its music video. Nominated for several Grammy awards, the video won for Best Short Form Music Video, and took home a whopping six VMA awards in 1991.
9. Dire Straits, “Money for Nothing” (1986)
Millennials may not recognize this track, but Dire Straits’ 1986 hit, “Money for Nothing” featured another inventive video for its time. Following the lead of The Cars “You Might Think” video, Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” incorporated cutting edge, computer animation, earning this British rock band the award for “Video of the Year.”
10. Jamiroquai, “Virtual Insanity” (1997)
Another lesser-known track from British funk group, Jamiroquai, “Virtual Insanity” is actually best known for its music video. Winning four VMA awards, director Jonathan Glazer incorporated some impressive special effects. Full of sleek moves and moving furniture, it’s hard not to enjoy this “Virtual Insanity.”
11. OutKast, “Hey Ya!” (2004)
The hip-hop groups’ smash hit, that had everyone shakin’ it like a polaroid picture back in ‘04, “Hey Ya!” has a music video that somehow matches the high energy of the classic track. Inspired by The Beatles iconic, 1964 performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, André3000 plays not one, but all eight band members in this fun and funky rendition.
12. TLC, “Waterfalls” (1995)
The final video in our roundup is from legendary ‘90s, R&B girl group, TLC. Their Grammy-award-winning single “Waterfalls” tackled some powerful subjects, and the accompanying music video is equally relevant. Garnering four VMA wins, TLC’s “Waterfalls” video is a must-see and a great throwback.
Tune in to the 2014 VMA Awards Sunday August 24, and check out MTV VMAs By The Numbers to prep yourself for the big show.
August 23, 2014 via Pepsi