It's hard to imagine a world without music videos. But there was a time when artists had to rely on, you know, their music to convince people that their stuff was worth buying. Those days are long gone. Nowadays, it's all about image. If you look right, chances are you'll probably sell some records. With that much riding on your visual presentation, you would think musicians would go all out when it comes time to make a music video, and most of them do. Except for...
20. Jay-Z featuring Foxy Brown - "Sunshine"
Hype Williams made his mark in the late 90's by directing some of the most flashy, colorful, high budget hip hop videos of all time with mostly stunning results. But his work didn't exactly fit well with everybody. In this clip, the primary color, um, color scheme is obnoxious enough, but the real death knell is Williams' decision to employ the fish eye lens camera technique, which makes this look less like a Jay-Z video and more like Joe Camel's rap debut. Extra points for having to blur Foxy Brown's crotch area even though she's just kind of standing there. That's classy.
19. Survivor - "Eye of the Tiger"
Back in the day, bands didn't have the luxury of green screen technology. If you wanted to film a video that centered around your quest to round up the band and head to your practice space of flowing gold, you had to actually get on the pay phone, call people up and literally walk to said practice space while lip syncing your mega-hit and pretending you aren't pissed that the keyboard player showed up out of uniform. Those were the days.
18. Ace of Base - "The Sign"
Dudes be advised, if you start a band that makes music using no actual musical instruments and features two relatively good looking chicks on lead vocals, your role in your breakthrough video is destined to be awkward. Here, the two dudes in Ace of Base basically interpretive dance their way through the proceedings while the women steal the show. And what a horribly awful show it is.
17. Neneh Cherry - "Buffalo Stance"
Remember those green screens that were mentioned a couple entries back? Well, eventually the technology made its way to music videos. Some people did incredible things with it. Whoever directed this video did not. Marvel as Neneh Cherry manages to still look ridiculously hot while pretending not to notice the hellish acid trip inexplicably taking place behind her.
16. U2 - "Numb"
Clearly, there is torture afoot in this video. I just can't decide who is suffering more. Is the real victim here The Edge, who has to put up with having his head wrapped in twine and feet shoved in his face? Or are the people who have to listen to this horrific song while watching it all happen the real victims? (Yes, they are.)
15. Bobby McFerrin - "Don't Worry Be Happy"
It's already the most rage inducing song ever recorded, might as well throw in an equally infuriating video to go along with it. And when you absolutely positively must annoy every person in the room, nobody does the job like Robin Williams. Here, his infectious energy envelops all who come in contact with him. Luckily, there are only two other people to flail around with him, but together, they have the violence inciting strength of at least ten bothersome men.
14. Rod Stewart - "Tonight's the Night"
Listen, Rod, there's this new thing called MTV. Apparently, they're airing nothing but music videos. I know, crazy, right? Anyway, we've got a fire lit, we bought some champagne, there's a chick here, why don't you come by and sing to her and we'll catch it all on tape?
13. Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson - "Whatzupwitu"
Alright, we've got a lot of awful to cover in a very limited amount of space, so let's get right to it. This video features Eddie Murphy floating through a PM Dawn sky trying to get his serious musician on while Michael Jackson frolics about in the background. Has a more embarrassing collaboration ever been caught on tape?
12. David Bowie and Mick Jagger - "Dancing In the Streets"
To answer that last question, yes, there has been a more embarrassing collaboration. This one. There is a famous urban legend about Mick Jagger and David Bowie having been caught in bed together. If you can't fathom that it could possibly be true, you've never seen this video. It features a close up of their asses shaking in unison and that isn't even close to being the gayest moment in this video. At one point they sing face to face. You couldn't cut through all the sexual tension in that scene with a chainsaw. Also, nice Reebok aerobic shoes, Mick.
11. Olivia Newton John - "Physical"
The moral of the story behind this video is simple, whipping your dude into shape can only lead to him discovering he actually has a bit of a hankering for other oiled up, muscular dudes. Not the kind of information you want to learn while sculpting your womanly guns at the local ceramic tiled workout facility. Man, that floor has to be all kinds of slippery. The 80's were so decadent.
10. Britney Spears - "Gimme More"
It's Britney bitch! She seems to have gotten herself all uncrazied these days, and that's awesome. But we're not too far removed from those Blackout days when it seemed like there was a new train wreck happening every other day. This video was one of them. They could have saved a ton by just releasing that notorious MTV VMA performance as the official video for "Gimme More," because this isn't too much different. Britney prances around a stripper pole while unconvincingly pretending to care that she's filming a video. She's a bit out of shape also, but she looks smokin' as a brunette, so that all balances out.
9. Journey - "Separate Ways"
Granted, production values on music videos in the 80's were never really much, but come on. This video looks like it was shot during the band's lunch break from their warehouse day jobs. Half the time there aren't even instruments present, which makes for the first and last known recorded footage of someone playing air keyboard. But don't fret, someone does finally supply dude with a keyboard. The fact that it's hanging on a wall only makes things look slightly less ridiculous. And who is the woman and where the hell is she going? Is this who the heartfelt lyrics are for? Shouldn't they maybe flag her down and sing directly to her instead of just hoping she overhears as she struts by in her leather skirt?
8. Vanilla Ice - "I Love You"
"Ice Ice Baby" may seem like the obvious choice here, but only because you've probably never seen this ridiculousness. There are a lot of questions here. Why is that woman dancing on top of a phone booth? Who the hell is RIFF? Why is everyone dancing so fast if this is a "slow jam"? And the final and most important question...could Vanilla Ice possibly be anymore suave?
7. Billy Squier - "Rock Me Tonite"
When it comes to music videos, there are good ones, there are bad ones, and then there are some so stunningly horrid that they are capable of silencing a career. Prior to releasing this video, Billy Squier had coasted through the dawn of the video era cranking out performance clips for his Camaro-worthy anthems like "Everybody Wants You". But somewhere along the line, some ill-advised record exec probably demanded an actual music video, and this is what they got. People used to growing mullets and throwing devil horns to "My Kind of Lover" were aghast at the sight of Squier prancing around in pajama bottoms performing dance moves that make Richard Simmons look the baddest dude on Earth. Squier's career never recovered. But "Everybody Wants You" is still the rock!
6. The Village People - "Sex Over the Phone"
And all this time you thought the Village People were gay. As this video clearly demonstrates, you're wrong. Those are clearly women they're calling for sex over their huge military surplus phone. Videos don't lie y'all.
5. David Hasselhoff - "Hooked On a Feeling"
Germany loves The Hoff, and it's easy to see why when you watch this video. It's equal parts offensive (the scene with the African villagers), cheap (the horrific green screen effects) and awesome (the whole thing). At this point in the list, it might as well just be a five way tie for first place.
4. Carl Lewis - "Break It Up"
Yes, that Carl Lewis. If you've ever seen Carl's painful rendering of "The Star Spangled Banner" you may be surprised to know that, not only was he not euthanized on the spot, but he even went on to make a music video. Being an Olympic hero gives you a bit of a free pass to act like an idiot, but everyone has a line that shouldn't be crossed. All I ask is that my Olympic heroes not wear belts with their skin tight workout gear. Unfortunately, Carl Lewis crosses that line. And many many more.
3. Jan Terri - "Losing You"
Just joking, this is actually the greatest video ever made. My personal favorite moment is when you realize that the frumpy woman in the back of the limo is actually the one who is singing. It's been decades since Hollywood churned out a plot twist like that. There is nothing about this video that doesn't scream "we couldn't care less." When Jan does finally start lip syncing, she does it with her head down and her hands in her pocket. From the sound of the vocals, I'm guessing she recorded the song in much the same manner. Pay close attention at the 2:35 mark when cameraman ennui finally takes hold and we're treated to a tight close up of a stack of bricks that have nothing to do with anything. It's magic.
2. Armi and Danny - "I Want To Love You Tender"
Let's be honest, if this video was from Feist or OK Go or whatever, we'd be praising it as the most hilariously innovative video in years. But, as luck would have it, Armi and Danny are Scandinavian or some shit and therefore we jest. Remember that Raelian cult that claimed to have cloned a human a few years ago? If they ever made a music video, it would look exactly like this.
1. Heidi Montag - "Higher"
Without exception, every artist on this list could make at least some excuse for why their video is so horrible. Maybe it was the 80's and dudes flailing around like a gayer Michael Stipe was just the style. Or maybe they were a struggling artist who couldn't shell out millions for a world class video. But what's going on here, there is absolutely no excuse for. Heidi Montag is the star of an MTV reality show. She's got plenty of cash. There is no reason this video should be as horrid as it is. Anyone reading this could recreate this video using a moderately hot chick and a Rent-A-Center video camera. Once you have that in place, just read the video camera instruction manual up to the "make people look like they're moving all herky jerky like the monsters in The Grudge" section and your job is done.