Last month we talked about all the kitschy bad music videos that came out in the '80s and now tickle the fancy of pop-culture geeks like myself. This time, let's focus in on the '90s, which were great because everyone thought they had figured out how to make music videos into art.
Videos of the '90s were completely overloaded with highly cinematic, imaginative concepts, but only a few turned out truly exceptional. The majority look as dated and kitschy as their '80s counterparts, not to mention you can use them to peg trends in cinematography from a mile away. Ever notice how the lighting in Fight Club looks super-'90s? Music videos suffered from the same problem.
So let's take a look back on the best of the worst, the most fun examples of the shitpile that was '90s music videos. As a whole, the decade wasn't quite as hilarious as the '80s, but it did have its own distinct flavor and charm.
10. R.E.M., "Shiny Happy People" "Shiny Happy People" is one of the two worst songs R.E.M. ever released, alongside "Stand." The video is just as obnoxious as the song itself, although seeing Michael Stipe dancing like a fool in a backwards baseball cap is worth the price of admission.
9. Genesis, "I Can't Dance" Phil Collins made some terrible hair decisions in the late '80s and early '90s. This video also takes the already silly lyrics to the song extremely literally. I appreciate Genesis' sense of humor, but this one is funny for all the wrong reasons.
8. Metallica, "Until It Sleeps" Unlike a lot of people, I actually love Metallica's '90s work. That being said, sometimes it got just a little bit too artsy. This is still a metal band, right? Why does this look like a Cranberries video? At least James had the good sense to refuse the makeup they slathered all over Kirk and Lars.
7. Nine Inch Nails, "The Perfect Drug" Typically Nine Inch Nails' art direction is one of the many amazing things about the band. However, things got a little bit out of control when Trent Reznor allowed the video for "The Perfect Drug" to turn into some kind of awful Tim Burton knock-off.
6. The Rolling Stones, "Anybody Seen My Baby" There's a thing about the late '90s: everything looked exactly the same. This video by the Rolling Stones is a striking example of every cinematic trope of the era. Dig that blue lighting everywhere for no reason, and all the jarring closeups. Swap Mick Jagger out for any other singer in the era, and it still works.
5. Iron Maiden, "Holy Smoke" Honestly almost any Iron Maiden video could make a list like this, but "Holy Smoke" is just stunningly bad. It's abundantly clear that the label told Maiden they had to make a video, so they made the most ludicrous piece of shit they could come up with.
List continues on the next page.
4. Michael Jackson, "Scream" It's MJ...IN SPACE. The fact that this video cost $7 million to make, making it the most expensive of all time, just makes its ridiculousness even more incredible. Oh, and it was directed by Mark Romanek, the same director who made NIN's video for "The Perfect Drug." I'm starting to notice a pattern here.
3. Guns N' Roses - "Estranged" What's the height of rock-star excess? Try Axl Rose's "epic" concepts for the videos of "Estranged" and "November Rain." "Estranged" wins out, though, just for the image of Axl swimming with dolphins.
2. Michael Bolton, "Said I Loved You (But I Lied)" Wild horses, cloudy sunsets, beaches, eagles, fire and Michael Bolton dressed like Indiana Jones in a cheap romance novel: this video has it all. The funny thing is, it's not too far from Kanye's video for "Bound 2." Guess some things never change.
1. Rednex, "Cotton Eye Joe" This has to be one of the most absolutely baffling things ever made under any circumstances. I'm still not sure I understand why or how it exists, but it's either the worst thing ever or the funniest.
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