The Material Girl. The King of Pop (and his sister). The Chili Peppers. Mr. West. Very few artists have become the musical equivalent of the two-sport athlete: Making memorable music and monumental videos. When those people had a new video to premiere, it wasn't a just a video, it was an event.
It's harder than you think. You could be on the Bruce Springsteen side of that with memorable music but unremarkable videos, or you could be on the opposite, A-ha side of things.
"Take on Me" aside, there have been several artists and groups whose name aren't a mononym and who have made a multitude of music videos that were groundbreaking, imaginative, clever and even funny. These were the people who pushed the envelope, but somehow, also get pushed aside in our collective memory of the greatest videos of all time.
Here are a few artists who could use a little more recognition for their consistent audiovisual genius: 10 Most Underrated Music Video Artists.
Editor's Choice: "Once In A Lifetime"
Honorable Mention: "Burning Down The House," "Road To Nowhere," "And She Was"
No one has ever questioned David Byrne and company's imagination. Whether it comes to his eclectic recording career or his other artistic ventures. But Talking Heads videos were created in the infancy of the medium. They were working with bare essentials and made something great out of nothing.
Editor's Choice: "Coffee and TV"
Honorable Mention: "Song 2," "Girls and Boys"
Among alternative videos of the '90s, Blur often get swept aside for the likes of equally deserving groups like Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters and Radiohead. All of whom make great videos, but Blur make a point to be creative, humorous, and original - a balance of the other three bands, if you will.
Editor's Choice: "It's Oh So Quiet"
Honorable Mention: "All Is Full Of Love," "Army of Me," "Possibly Maybe"
Bjork is an intense artist in every sense. In her vocals, her music, as well as visually. She has taken full license of her creativity and that shows in her music videos. In the 90s, when MTV showed videos daily, they could cram a Bjork video into a slot late at night or on 120 Minutes. Amongst her fans, she gets her due. But she deserves much more for her level of creativity.
Editor's Choice: "Fell In Love With a Girl"
Honorable Mention: "The Denial Twist" "The Hardest Button to Button"
It's fair to state The White Stripes consistently produced the most creative, and possibly best, videos of the past 10 years, though working closely with director Michel Gondry might have helped. While the Stripes may be no more, they live on with their music and videos they constantly mixed with fine art. They had a record called De Stijl, named for the Dutch art movement. It's safe to assume they cared about the visual aspect of their sound more than most bands.
Editor's Choice: "Sugarcube"
Honorable Mention: "Tom Courtenay," "From a Motel 6"
Yo La Tengo don't make a lot of videos, but when they do, boy, do they put everything they've got into them. It seems that they really hate oppressive record companies, I'm sure indie powerhouse Matador Records is so terrible to them. In "Sugarcube", their best, the cast of Mr. Show (Bob Odenkirk, David Cross) show them how real rockers make videos and end up beating Jack Black's School of Rock by nearly a decade.
Editor's Choice: "Gimme Some More"
Honorable Mention: "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," "Dangerous"
As a hip-hop artist, it's tough to stand out by making a big video. A lot of rappers want huge videos with huge budgets and theatrics. However, while the Diddy's of the day wanted explosions and cameos from big stars, Busta wanted to be different with his videos. Everyone else was Michael Bay and he wanted to be Tim Burton. His surrealist nature showed he didn't want to be bigger than everyone else, but he wanted to be unique, and he's achieved that.
Editor's Choice: "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"
Honorable Mention: "Sock It 2 Me," "Work It," "Get Ur Freak On"
If Busta is hip-hop's Burton, than Missy is damn near David Lynch. Her videos are fun, weird, beautiful, captivating, and memorable. Her footprint on the music video is one that has yet to be properly filled since her hiatus.
Editor's Choice: "Where It's At"
Honorable Mention: "Loser," "Girl." "Sexx Laws"
Beck is a true chameleon. He'll record an upbeat soul record one minute, and then a morose folk record the next. This is no different in his music videos, which are all over the map. Creatively, he can't be pinned down, and that's perfectly acceptable.
Editor's Choice: "Drop"
Honorable Mention: "Passin' Me By", "Runnin'"
The dominance of gangsta rap in the early '90s would have you believe that everyone was riding in low-riders through the streets of Los Angeles. Not so fast. The Pharcyde quickly squashed that cliché with creative, noteworthy videos. Perhaps even taking some advice from Adam Horovitz, who makes a cameo in the Beastie Boys-sampling "Drop."
Editor's Choice: "Bad Cover Version"
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Honorable Mention: "Common People," "This Is Hardcore"
When it comes to Britpop, Pulp truly got the short stick here in the States. Which is a shame. They quite possibly made the best videos of the whole batch. And that is saying something, considering the competition. Often sarcastic and sardonic, but never a spoilsport, Pulp were always the smartest band in the room and their clever videos were proof.