10. The Buggles - "Video Killed the Radio Star" (1979)
What better place to begin then at the beginning. This was the first video ever broadcast on Music TeleVision. And its self-manifesting lyrical content set an early precedent for the medium's embrace of pomo/meta concepts.
9. Björk - "All Is Full of Love" (1999)
Uh, everything Björk produces, touches, or is even remotely aware of can be considered a fucking masterpiece. This includes the mucus she expels from her hairy nostrils and the doo doo brown that leaks from her booty. The various ass-kickings she has doled out to paparazzi over the years is some of the finest performance art we've seen since that one guy mic'd himself beating off under the gallery.
8. Talking Heads - "Once in a Lifetime" (1980)
While the '80s were mostly a gaudy, flashy aesthetic holocaust, David Byrne was shrewd enough to know that a little pop art goes a long way.
7. Notorious B.I.G. featuring Ma$e and Puff Daddy - "Mo Money, Mo Problems" (1998) Gotta love that fish-eye lens!
6. Cake - "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" (2001)
Ah, an early example of crowdsourcing. Cake beat Web 2.0 to the open-source punch almost a decade before Instagram hash-tagged its first artisanal cupcake.
5. Beyoncé - "Single Ladies" (2008)
The video for Queen B's mammoth lead single from I Am... Sasha Fierce qualifies as art if only because it blatantly rips off the work of somebody else, namely choreographer Bob Fosse.
4. Madonna - "Like a Prayer" (1989)
Yo, if MDNA pissing off the pope and Pepsi by sleeping with black Jesus doesn't qualify as art, we don't know what does.
3. Paul Simon - "Call Me Al" (1987)
Something about this classic Lorne Michaels-directed clip screams Waiting for Godot. Maybe it's Simon's existential mugging.
2. R. Kelly - "Trapped in the Closet" (2005 - Ongoing)
Kels revolutionized the medium with his seemingly never-ending (and completely absurd) hip-hopera. We can't wait to see the Broadway adaptation!
1. KoЯn - "Freak on a Leash" (1999)
Behold: the Mona fuckin' Lisa of imagery set to music. Or, in this case, nü-metal.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!