After the release of our favorite songs, another thing that most of us look forward to is their music videos. Music television is such a powerful tool that can make or break the careers of artists. And it was the 80s that made MTV the new jukebox for a whole new group of music fans. It is the time when music videos were not just add-ons to hits but are also vital to the image of an artist.
In the 80s, the medium was not yet refined. It means that there were no conventions to break both musically and visually. It was a time that allowed endless experimentation. Even though the technology was simple during these times, it still led to even more creative innovations. If you are looking for a trip back to memory lane, we are here to satisfy that. Today, we are giving you some of the most iconic 80s music videos that did not only defined the decade but also influenced fashions and gave music video the status of high art.
Thriller by Michael Jackson
If the Video Awards existed back in 1983, MTV might have created a new category just for the ingeniousness of the music video of Thriller by Michael Jackson. That’s why there’s no wonder this video was up for several VMAs even after a year when the awards show started. And even after almost 30 years, Thriller’s music video still tops the charts. It is indeed an iconic, epic horror-movie-style music video that most of us will always remember. This proves that Michael Jackson was not only the King of Pop but also the king of music videos, as well.
Like a Prayer by Madonna
Life might be a mystery, but Madonna’s success on her controversial take on Catholicism is not. This music video became iconic because it involves stigmata, burning crosses, and as well as the seduction of a saint. A lot of people were outraged when this music video came out in 1989, including the Pepsi executives who sponsored her tour and the Pope himself. However, Madonna is considered to be the master of the music video, and she knows exactly how to connect it as a medium to endorse her latest personification, using MTV as a foundation for her own career through the decades.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
The music video of Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun is an 80s gem for having a sitcom vibe. This music video featured wrestler Captain Lou Albano who played as Cyndi’s dad. The video shows how Lauper rebels against her parents. It has a buoyant visual, same as with the music, making you want to go skipping down the streets of the Lower East Side like what Cyndi Lauper did herself.
Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer music video used stop-motion animation and as well as Claymation to create the great effect of this smash hit. This music video won the 1987 MTV VMA for Video of the Year. It is a really fun music video to watch, complete with dancing raw chickens.
Every Breath You Take by The Police
This song is often misinterpreted as a romantic song. But its music video actually details all the red flags of a stalker relationship that is set to a hypnotic guitar riff while Sting stares closely into the camera. It is an eerie black and white music video that captured the glory days of the Police.
Take On Me by a-ha
a-ha is a Norwegian trio that became more famous for this comics-inspired, rotoscoped video than when the hit was released in 1985. This music video was directed by Steve Barron. This video earned them a nomination for the MTV’s Video of the Year back in 1986.
When Doves Cry by Prince
The music video of When Doves Cry, features Prince who was famously immersed in a bathtub and slithering on his hands and knees. It is a 1984 classic hit. But aside from that scene, you should also check out the purple one and The Revolution, making some synchronized dance moves in lace and silk at the end of the video, which is hot.
Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran
This is probably the most cinematic music video of Duran Duran. This Hungry Like the Wolf music video was released in 1983 and was directed by Russell Mulcahy. This video features the members of the band raiding through the jungles of Sri Lanka, just like Indiana Jones.
Walk This Way by RUN-D.M.C. and Aerosmith
Aside from being the kings of 80s hip hop, RUN-D.M.C. were also the kings of great mashups, especially when they spun the familiar rock tune of Aerosmith in this song. The video features them playing loud neighbors with a Spandexed Steven Tyler, who came bursting through the studio wall like the Kool-Aid man. It is the first rap-rock hybrid hit. This collaboration paved the way for similar ones, including Bring the Noise by Anthrax and Public Enemy.
Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson
This music video was released in 1989. Long before Coldplay raided the Sgt. Pepper’s jacket department, Janet Jackson, and her crew, have already put on their military jackets. In the video, they did a finely choreographed routine that a lot of fans all over the world tried to memorize by rewinding their VHS tapes countless of times.
Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
This is a postmodernist music video by Talking Heads. It proved that you can make an innovative video even if you are on a limited budget back in the 80s. This music video was co-directed by Toni Basil, who was a famed choreographer. It features a bespectacled David Byrne, who was taking on the avatar of a preacher to African tribe members. In the video, he moves like a digital puppet. This music video clearly represents the wild-eyed creativity during the prime of 80s music videos.
Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses blew up overnight when the Welcome to the Jungle music video was aired. It became one of the most iconic music videos in the process in the 80s. This music video includes a triptych of scenes. It features fresh-off-the-bus Axl, a rock star Axl, and nervous breakdown Axl, who was exposed to an ambush broadcast news a la A Clockwork Orange, which is known as today’s news cycle.
These are some of the most iconic 80s music videos that defined the decade. The 80s indeed was the decade that started the making of creative music videos.