Best Music Videos Ever

Published on 07 November 2023

People listen with their eyes. That’s a fact and always has been , but it holds more truth now than ever before. Can a good song be made great by an amazing video? Can an average tune become a classic thanks to its promo video?

These are fair questions, and the only way to answer them is by gathering together the very best music videos that exist, all in one place.

That place is here, and you’ve landed right at the start. Lucky you!

In no particular order, let me present the best ever music videos, as decided mostly by the guitarguitar team and partly by yourselves via facebook!


Beastie Boys - Sabotage

What does pioneering rap-rock have to do with 1970s cop shows? We don’t know, nor do we care much when the mashup between them results in levels of genius like the Sabotage video. Leaping cars, spilled coffee, aviator shades and phoney staches are all in a day’s work for New York’s finest.


Weezer - Buddy Holly

An example of a wild concept coming to fruition beautifully, Buddy Holly sees rock-nerds Weezer became the thing they probably were in some alternate dimension: the backing band for Happy Days! Watch The Fonz perform his cossack dance in front of Rivers Cuomo and the others, in a very Back to the Future feeling anachronism of 90s rock blended into a 1970s show set in the 50s! It’s too much! Nah, it’s perfect.


Judas Priest - Painkiller

Pioneer of metal for sure, Judas Priest ‘went for it’ particularly for this 1990 effort. Painkiller - who is presumably either a man or a machine - starts with an unexpectedly brutal drum riff, and the following 6 minutes don’t let up on that level of ferocity. Apart from the comedy ‘leather daddy’ outfits, everything about this video stands up well: from the super-grainy black & white shots to the strobe lighting and quick edits, it’s a bit of a masterpiece. Pain! Pain! Killer! KILLAAAAAH!


Michael Jackson - Thriller

When you have endless supplies of cash and you watch American Werewolf in London, it’s a perfectly reasonable thought to nab that movie’s director and visual effects department in order to create your next music video.

So it must’ve seemed to Michael Jackson, at least, who had evidently found the perfect guy to bring his Halloween-with-choreography dreams to life in the Thriller video. Director John Landis was happy to oblige, and the result is as much a mini movie as it is a promo for an indisputable classic.


Guns n Roses - November Rain

We’ve said it before, but we don’t care that Slash doesn’t have his guitar plugged into anything for his climactic November Rain clifftop solo. Only a pedant would allow that to get in the way of the widescreen glory that is this clip. It’s almost like an 80s action movie, and Axl’s dedication to all things bandana (swapped out for his wedding scene in favour of a…pirate costume…) wins us over every time.

Hard rock with a heart, or whatever.


Childish Gambino - This is America

Childish Gambino’s ambitious video is as much an art piece and social commentary as it is video promo, and even that element is pretty subversive. From references to slavery to imagery depicting cultural and racial stereotypes, the content in this masterful one-take marvel is as relevant today as it was in 2018 when the song was released.


Bjork - All is Full of Love

Bjork comes from some sort of futuristic techno-utopia, judging by her music and visuals. Even decades on from some songs, they still seem far ahead of us. The visuals that accompany her music seem to often occupy that same space, from the bald-Bjork-turning-into-cosmic-polar-bear of the Hunter video to this staggering achievement here. All is Full of Love is over 25 years old now and still looks better than most big budget CGI today does. The content: two androids falling in love whilst being built, is also as subversive today as it was pioneering back then.


Madonna - Like a Prayer

Talking about subversive, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone has made an enormous career out of blending awesomely potent pop songs with headline-grabbing behaviour. Take the title track from her Like a Prayer album, whose crucified Black Jesus was too much for the Vatican, who condemned it publicly. Italian TV also banned it, which hardly dented the song’s success. As for Madonna, this was as much an artistic commentary on her strict Catholic upbringing as it was a critique on cultural prejudice. If Madonna was the Queen of MTW, this was one of her true crowning glories.


Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden

Seattle has certainly given us more than its fair share of great music, and Soundgarden rank as one of the highest for sure. This tune, from their mega-selling Superunknown record, is probably about as odd as a mainstream rock tune can be whilst still being a legit success. It’s video is a mini art epic in itself, coming across like some sort of dayglo midpoint between a David Lynch movie and an acid overdose.


Blink 182 - What’s My Age Again?

Some bands somehow manage to define an age, and pop-punks Blink 182 definitely do that. In the early 00s, when Nu Metal had just stopped being new, music videos were at their peak in terms of influence. Anybody into music around that time would’ve had a hard time escaping these three cheeky chappies tearing it down Rodeo Drive stark naked, accompanied by one of the catchiest post-Green Day punk tunes ever. Unlike most bands who define eras, Blink have managed to remain relevant since, as their recent huge world tour would attest. Best not to ask their ages again, though.


2pac - California Love Feat Dr Dre

Back in the 90s, when the days were long and the music industry had budgets for videos, artists could afford to follow their crazy visions to the hilt, even if those crazy visions didn’t, on paper at least, make a whole lot of sense.

For example, it would be reasonable to say that it’s difficult to grasp a link between Los Angeles rapper Tupac Shakur, NYC rapper Biggie Smalls and the Australian post-apocalyptic Mad Max movies. It may even be that there isn’t one, but that obviously didn’t matter to Tupac, who went on to create one of hip hop’s most bizarre and fun videos. The city of Compton may not have any Thunderdomes in real life, but who cares?


Robert Palmer - Addicted to Love

Coming on like a suave Michael Douglas-style yuppie, Robert Palmer sealed the deal on 80s ambition/sleaze with this unforgettable clip. Palmer - looking like all of Miami Vice combined into one person - leads a band populated by impossibly gorgeous models, clad in black dresses, red lipstick and white guitars. Standing in front of a non-more 80s faux sunset backdrop, it’s got ‘iconic’ draped all over it.


Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime

Filed in the dictionary under ‘infectious’ would be this tune from post-punk funkers Talking Heads. Making maximum use of frontman David Byrne’s well-studied and rehearsed stage moves, this video is as knowingly dorky as it is iconic.

As a blueprint for those who are too cool to dance but secretly want to, it remains unrivalled. Neurotic, stylish, daft and simultaneously confident and shy, this video is a valid deconstruction of ‘MTV choreography’, whilst being massively copied at the same time. Same as it ever was!


Kendrik Lamar - Humble

Madonna may have gotten her video banned from Italian TV, but maybe times have changed. Kendrick Lamar starts his video dressed as the Pope, and the Vatican didn’t even bat an eyelid! Progress!

Later on in the video, there’s a reenactment of Leonardo’s famous Last Supper fresco, so the religious referencing is hardly coincidental on Lemar’s part, though the clip goes much further into topics like image manipulation and political crimes, too . Maximum points for ambition and execution here.


Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer

In music video terms, this one is an oldie but a goodie. Everyone knows Peter Gabriel’s famous Sledgehammer, even people who were born decades after! It was a real game-changer in terms of offering up innovative imagery, reaching far beyond the visuals normally associated with the ‘MTV generation’. A lot of it is deceptively simple, and for all of its big budget mayhem, there’s an endearing home-spun quality to it all that has allowed it to age and date gracefully.


Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California

Funk rockers the Chilis have become one of the world’s biggest bands, and that's partly down to having great tunes of course, but also a roster of brilliant videos. There were definitely a few that could’ve made it onto this hallowed list, but the clip for Dani California is just too much fun!

The band impersonate various famous bands throughout the history of rock, and I think I’ve got them all here: Elvis, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Funkadelic, New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Misfits, Poison/Motley Crue (not sure), Nirvana and finally themselves. Do I miss any?


Smashing Pumpkins - Tonite, Tonite

The Smashing Pumpkins are well known for their big sound and grand gestures, and this hit from 1995’s Mellon collie and the Infinite Sadness stands out as one of their most iconic clips.

Based on the classic silent movie Voyage to the Moon, Corgan and his cohorts seem fully at home in the whimsical make-believe world that surrounds them in this video. It’s one of those times where the subject matter matches the emotional value of the song perfectly, elevating both.


Queen - I Want to Break Free

People like reading things into songs, especially when videos come along and seem to hint at slightly spicy undertones. The fact is, sometimes a rock band just wants to dress up in drag to varying degrees of success and then perform household tasks such as hoovering. It’s fine.


Nirvana - In Bloom

The obvious song to include here would’ve been Smells Like Teen Spirit, because that’s the one that everybody knows, but I reckon this is both a better tune and a better video. Kind of like a slacker version of the Weezer Buddy Holly video (though Nirvana came first), In Bloom has a laugh about it all but still manages to portray Cobain’s growing ambivalence with stardom.


Shakespears Sister - Stay

The early 90s were noted for having enormous hits that would just not go away (Whitney’s Bodyguard tune, Bryan’s Robin Hood song, Wet Wet Wet’s cover song…) and one of the most memorable - and original - was Stay by Shakespears Sister. Named after the Smiths tune (there is no apostrophe, it’s not a typo), Shakespears Sister were made up of ex-Bananarama singer Siobhan Fahey and singer-songwriter Marcella Detroit.

The tune is clearly about suicide, which is not a subject matter than normally bothers the charts, and somewhat amazingly, before this tune was released, Detroit (the lead vocalist on this song with the supersonic voice) was regarded as the ‘plus one’ of the partnership. However it really was, the accompanying video seemed to sum up that arty moment in the early 90s, just before Britpop came along and elbowed it all away.


Rammstein - Deutschland

Teutonic metallers Rammstein are no strangers to controversy nor expensive videos. Visuals have always been big in Rammstein’s universe but this video for comeback single Deutschland takes things further than ever before. I’ll spare you the hyperbole on the conflicting use of their home country’s very divisive past, and say that you’ll be in for a shocking treat when you click the video and watch it. What the song may lack in brute force, the video more than makes up for.


So Many Videos!

Well, I had to draw a line somewhere and this is that line. There are tons more great videos I could’ve put into this quite neverending list, but there would always be ‘just one more’. What did you think of the choices? Should I have had Girls on Film in there? Gimme All Your Lovin’? It’s a tough call. Hopefully you’ll agree with most of these choices, and I hope you had fun discovering some music that might be new to you. That’s what this is all about!

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About the author


Features Editor

I'm a musician and artist originally from the South West coast of Scotland. I studied Visual Arts and Film Studies at...

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