When MTV launched on August 1, 1981, the first music video it played
was "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. What
an awful video. In those days, all a music video needed was jiggly
girls in bikinis, big hair, fast cars, and if you were lucky,
jiggly girls with big hair driving fast cars. No huge costs, just
a little something to complement the listening experience.
came along Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in 1983. "Thriller"
wasn't a music video, it was a full-fledged crotch-grabbing experience.
At 14 minutes long, "Thriller" suddenly opened the doors
of creativity, proving that a music video could be more about
the video and less about the music. Today, companies will spend
millions of dollars to make a 3-minute video (most of it spent
on computer animation and huge sets). We are proud to present
a list of opulent indulgence: the 10 most expensive music videos
of all time.
be fair, though, we've instituted some ground rules:
A group/artist can only appear once on the list. Known as the
Michael Jackson Amendment, this rule makes the list a whole
lot more interesting. But artists doing a one-time collaboration
with others are fair game (allowing Janet Jackson to pop up
If the video is for a song from a movie, then it doesn't count.
Otherwise, Celine Dion's warbling of "My Heart Will Go
On" would win hands down (because it included expensive
scenes from Titanic).
To qualify, the images in the video must have been created solely
for that video.
Studios lie about how much they spend. They don't want to seem
too wasteful, so our figures are probably a little off.
But it's an interesting list anyway, so deal with it.
Artist: Blackstreet (featuring Janet Jackson)
video is completely computer animated, taking place inside a pinball
machine. The basic "plot" is that Blackstreet and Janet
Jackson feel like pinballs, bouncing uncontrollably through their
lives, when it's all really just a game. What made it so expensive?
Well, computer animation ain't cheap, and neither is Janet Jackson
(the same cannot be said about sibling Latoya . . .)
Janet's wardrobe: $10,000
Blackstreet's wardrobe: $25,000
Janet's travel costs: $50,000
Blackstreet's travel costs: $200,000
3-D animation costs: $600,000
Artist: Guns N' Roses
11-minute video extravaganza, this video tells the supposed tale
of singer Axl Rose and model Stephanie Seymour getting married,
having a party, and living out their lives together until death.
And all it took was 11 minutes? . . . A classy video that combines
storytelling with live concert performances, Guns N' Roses actually
paid for the video themselves, to insure that it looked as they
Renting a symphony orchestra: $25,000
Specially constructed chapel: $150,000
Wedding dress: $8,000
Specially constructed coffin: $8,000
their video "Waterfalls" was technologically more groundbreaking,
"Unpretty" ended up costing more because the group argued
over every little detail (almost doubling the projected cost). The
story of the video starts out with women in a plastic surgeon's
office contemplating breast implants, but they somehow get involved
in a gang fight in a back alley. All the while, TLC sits on these
weirdo floating pods while doing yoga chants. Nobody said these
videos have to make sense . . .
yoga pods: $60,000
Field of purple flowers: $50,000
Laptop computer animating breast enhancements: $63,000
Flying robot camera: $35,000
on to Step 2: VIDEOS
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