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Yesterday, YouTube Music announced that it was partnering with the Universal Music Group to remaster and preserve all kinds of classic music videos. According to the company, it wants to change the way that we see music. Sounds great, but anything worth doing is worth doing well, so this project cannot possibly go forward without certain choice music videos of yore.
The project has already gone forward, but whatever. We formally demand, right here and right now, that the following genre-related videos are given their due. Some seriously brilliant directors have come out of the world of music videos (and still go back to those waters every now and then), and let's not forget the glory days of when almost every movie made got a music video tied into it. Ah, the glory!
You may ask what the logic is in preserving Will Smith's Wild Wild West music video. "Why would you want that?" you might be saying. If you are, well, to that we respond, "Why would you not want that?" Talk about legendary; that video belongs in a museum — a digital museum, provided by YouTube Music, where it can be watched in remastered wonder from now until the apocalypse. Everyone needs a friend like him, so let that video be humanity's legacy.
Yes, that video appears on this list, this list being the 10 music videos that we (humbly) demand get immortalized for generations to come as a part of this new project.
01. Knights of Cydonia — Muse
Aside from the fact that the song itself is incredible, this video from Muse has it all. It's a western, then it goes sci-fi, and soon there are horses and lasers and everything in between. It's a glorious mashup, and we'd love someone to make a full movie of whatever this is. We don't know what the story would be, but with all of this joyous insanity, surely there is one. You and I must fight to survive!
02. Partyman — Prince
Gentlemen, let's broaden our minds! For some reason, the 1989 Batman had a lot of Prince in it. A lot. Not just in the sense of the artist has a song playing over the end credits — no, two major sequences in the film itself are fully set to Prince songs. There was an accompanying album, and at least two music videos.
Though "Batdance" is fun, it doesn't have a standout moment in the film itself. "Partyman" certainly does, and though few things can compare with the Joker making his way through an art gallery and ruining it for the sake of fun, this video comes close. Prince brings his own Joker-esque madness to the video, and the result is a classic. The video also features a line from the film every now and then, and that's not a bad thing.
03. Come Back Haunted — Nine Inch Nails
Think this is weird? A little odd? Could be pulled right from the subconscious of a madman and put directly on the screen? You'd be right on all counts, likely because this video was directed by David Lynch.
As usual with the mastermind behind Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, and so much more, there's no middle-manager here. That's not the Lynchian way. Everything here is likely a direct rip from the artist's subconscious, and the result is terrifying and electrifying at the same time. This video probably led to the Nine Inch Nails appearing in most people's favorite episode of Twin Peaks: The Return. In episode 8 (gotta light?) we hear a phrase that we never really expected to hear: "The Roadhouse is proud to welcome the Nine Inch Nails!"
04. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You — Bryan Adams
Yep, we're going there. We know it's probably so cool to dunk relentlessly on Bryan Adams, but if we were really pressed? This song moves us. We don't want to admit it, but it's true. A lot of it likely has to do with nostalgia for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a movie that some of us (not naming names) may have watched 1,000 times when it first came out.
We now recognize that, Alan Rickman aside, it's...not great — but still. The song gives us feelings, and the video liberally uses bits of the film. One moment you're seeing Adams play a full piano in the woods, and the next moment you're seeing Kevin Costner make faces. It's irresistible. Don't fight it, or we'll call off Christmas.
05. Wild Wild West — Will Smith
We warned you. There's no real defense for this other than wanting to cause a bit of chaos. The song is about a steampunk western movie that doesn't quite work, which also tested just how hammy Kenneth Branagh was capable of being. Will Smith had good success with his Men in Black rap tie-in, but the response to this one was not as well received.
Why then do we put this here at all? Why, out of so many incredible music videos out there, do we demand this? For one, it's definitely a product of its time, a capsule from an era where this was how things went. For another, well, there's no defense other than lunacy. Sheer, bloody lunacy. Will Smith would not go on to do a rap tie-in for After Earth. If he had, that would be here instead.
06. Army of Me — Bjork
Here's another instance of an artist who never holds back directing a video for... well, another artist who never holds back. Bjork always seems content with her own army of her, and with this video, the song itself is a great place to begin. Add in Michel Gondry, the director responsible for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and you're off to an army of races.
Gondry got his start in music videos, and he created many groundbreaking works that take the mold of what a music video should be and throw it out the window. This is only one example, and probably our personal favorite; every Gondry music video has something special in it.
07. Ladies of the World — Flight of the Conchords
We're putting this here because we're not allowed to list the entire two seasons of the Flight of the Conchords TV series. That series had about two little music videos in it per episode, but this song got special treatment; it was featured on the show, but it also received this alternate video take by director Nima Nourizadeh.
The video portrays the Bret and Jemaine "characters" much like the show does, which is to say it makes them look way cooler than they actually are. In real life, Bret and Jemaine are insanely cool. In the Conchords world, they are pretty silly. This video revels in that, and is shot in a style that we never saw on the series. It's got to be about sweet 16's, not M-16's!
08. Weapon of Choice — Fatboy Slim
Do we need a reason other than this video being almost entirely made up of Christopher Walken dancing? We don't, but we'll give one anyway: Spike Jonze directed this, another film director who came out of the music video world. He'd go on to direct Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Her, but his masterful start began with projects like this.
A writer like Charlie Kaufman (who wrote the former two films just mentioned) needs a director who would hear this song and then say, "Yeah, it's Walken dancing and then maybe he flies at the end." We don't know if it is supposed to have a deeper meaning, but we could watch it all day. Interestingly enough, the other big Kaufman director (aside from Kaufman himself) is Michel Gondry, who we've already talked about. Any Jonze or Gondry video will bring you joy.
09. Space Oddity — David Bowie
Speaking of joy... this video is pretty simple compared to the madness of some of the others on this list. Really, it's comprised solely of various shots of Bowie himself singing and playing the guitar. That's all we need. That's really all anyone ever needs. Though we picked this particular video, we're gonna need every David Bowie video there is added in as well. All of them. We're not gonna sit here and debate, Jerry. The man was magic, so is this video, it all counts as genre, the end. We want them all. All of the Bowie. If you have to ask, you'll never know. If you know, all you have to do is ask.
10. Kiss from a Rose — Seal
Ba da daaaaaaa ba da bah dap bada daaaaahhh....more bat-madness, same bat-list! It turns out that the Batman movies weren't done with giving us musical gifts. Batman Returns didn't bring back Prince (or Robert Wuhl, or continuity of any kind), but Batman Forever, now in the hands of Joel Schumacher, did bring a tie-in music video. "Kiss from a Rose" isn't heard in the movie, but this video (featuring a lot of the film itself) is forever tied to it. This might be another weird sentimental choice, but so what. We love this song, and if you search your feelings, you probably do too. What, are you going to send Batman after us? We're... COUNTING ON IT.