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Many of us have grown up watching music videos after they first become prominent with A Hard Day’s Night in the 1960s. But it wasn’t until music television was born that there was a consistent use of music videos with songs. Ever since MTV first aired in 1981 music videos have become an integral part of the music industry, with videos complementing singles to promote releases.

So, the legend says that the M from MTV originally stood for music

Our research suggest the amount spent on music video production has decreased in the last two decades – the heyday being during the 90’s with videos by Madonna and Michael Jackson. And we can only predict that if there were to be a resurgence in this level of spending it would be from their present day counterparts.

We’d heard rumours that the most expensive music video was created for From Yesterday by 30 Seconds to Mars but after careful research we found out this was not the case. Though it would be easy to believe the rumour that $13 million was spent on Jared Leto’s video – it required over 400 extras, and was filmed entirely in China!

Ouch. Leto got a beating when label bosses realised he couldn’t make back
the money they spent on From Yesterday

Enough about Leto, here’s our list of the Top 10 most expensive music videos ever made…

10. Will Smith – Miami (1998)

Production Cost: $2,000,000 ~ $2,778,171 (2011)

Mr. Will Smith aka Mr. Hollywood. This song blatantly samples The Whispers’ ‘And The Beat Goes On’, just listen to both songs and you’ll see what I mean. Won a MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video, interesting fact is it featured Eva Mendes in the clip, who was later to co-star with Smith in the movie Hitch.

This song was one of just many singles on his album Big Willie Style which cemented him as one of the most successful Hip-Hop acts of the late 90’s. Smith was never really going to replicate that level of success, probably due to the fact that he started focusing more on acting. This song is actually pretty fun and a great song to put on before going on a night out with friends.

Late 90’s Will Smith was a cool dude, just coming out from his stints in Fresh Prince of Bel Air, starring in the hit sci-fi comedy Men In Black this guy was busting out some pretty fun tunes. I guess it’s kind of a stark contrast to his present self; openly praising Scientology, allowing his damn kid to star in the 2010 version of The Karate Kid which obviously was an abomination…. for shame Jackie Chan. What about his other kid whipping her goddamn hair back and forth??? And now we hear the guy is making Men in Black 3? Damn.

 

 

9. Puff Daddy (P.Diddy/Diddy) – Victory (1998)

Production Cost: $2,700,000 ~ $3,750,531 (2011)

Hmmm never thought it was a good idea that Puff Daddy or whatever you want to call him decided to take a stab at rapping. I mean it was bad enough that whenever he produced a song with a rapper in some kind of collaboration what he would interject verses with his own words of “yeah” or “come on” or “bad boy” and this was before Lil’ Jon. I read that this song used mafioso style lyrics since they were popular at the time, ok since when was this the case? Must’ve happened when Rap labels were building an image for themselves during the whole East Coast West Coast rivalry, which such groups as Junior Mafia and The Outlawz created.

Having said that the song is pretty weak, but the video clip has to be one of the best on the list. Not only is it a homage to the movie The Running Man, a 1980’s film with Schwarzeneggar in it. Sampling Bill Conti’s song ‘Going the Distance’ that was on the Rocky soundtrack, the music video depicts a post-apocalyptic society where people are hunted for sport and broadcasted to the citizens with a Gameshow approach.

The video features Danny Devito as the broadcaster and Dennis Hopper (R.I.P) as the evilpresident. Why does Dennis Hopper always play the bad guy in movies? Even in music videos. Shame. Sweet Dude. I can only assume from the sparse footage of Notorious BIG that the song was made before Biggie Smalls was killed but the clip was filmed afterwards.

Always the bad GUY

I know this video isn’t testament to it, but I really think Sean Combs can act, if you have seen Swingers and Monsters Ball you know what I’m talking about.

 

8. MC Hammer – Too Legit To Quit (1992)

Production Cost: $2,500,000 ~ $4,034,586 (2011)

Where is this guy now?!!? He must’ve been the dog’s bollocks at one point for his label to spend over $2 million on a music video. I guess the studio thought of him as more bankable back in the day, since he did start his own fads including his infamous parachute pants.

The video itself contained many celebrity appearances as well as Michael Jackson’s glove, shown on a Michael Jackson lookalike. The hand signals from this song supposedly referenced a dance-off that Hammer challenged Michael Jackson to. I wonder what eventuated from that.

The early 90’s was a hilarious period for clothes, hair styles and dance moves. Just after the break-dance period but in between the rise of pop choreographed moves popularized by boy bands. This music video basically just consists of hard pumping dance moves on different sets; stages, really wide alley ways, industrial fire-breathing courtyards, marble throne rooms. I think I get a little dizzy when I watch this.

Still, Hammer has established a long lasting influence.

 

7. Michael Jackson – Bad (1987)

Production Cost: $2,200,000 ~ $4,384,913 (2011)

The full music video comes in at 18 minutes and took 6 weeks to shoot.

This music video was directed by the great Martin Scorsese.

The video features Jackson
and his background dancers busting out some moves in an underground subway station. The standoff between the two groups is an obvious reference to West Side Story, although the groups are very different to the late 50’s neighborhood types, the gangs in ‘Bad’ look more like the bad guys from Police Academy 2, you know that 80’s punk look but with more of a flamboyant look, they seem to have good pieces of flair.

I didn’t even know the story until I actively read up on the music video but it seems that Michael Jackson in the clip played a character who left his ghetto buddies to pursue education in upstate New York. Returning to his former posse they realize how much he has changed and Jackson responds with his song and dance number.

This music video featured the emerging Wesley Snipes who we all know as the vampire hunter Blade. What better way to commence your acting career than by being in a Michael Jackson music video, especially a Billboard Number 1.

From BAD to Bad Guy

 

 

6. Aqua – Cartoon Heroes (2000)

Production Cost: $3,500,000 ~$4,602,052 (2011)

The song was on their 2nd album Aquarius. Oh man I don’t even want to know what their first album was called.

Where were these guys from?? I’m assuming somewhere in Scandinavia. I wonder if as has-beens they still perform in their native country and are featured on bizarre advertisements, endorsing random products like soap or laxatives.

I hated these guys back in 2000 and 11 years later nothing’s changed. But it is a wonder that at one point this group was very popular and able to command a budget of over $3 million for a music video. Then again at least they were original – I don’t even know where they hell they got their signature sound from.

 

5. Guns N Roses – Estranged (1993)

Production Cost: $4,000,000 ~ $6,267,709 (2011)

9 minutes?!?! Holy fuck! What were they thinking? It seems the video for this song is the final part in a 3 part music video series, the other two videos in the trilogy include “Don’t Cry” and “November Rain“.

During the course of the music video the definitions of illusion and disillusion flash on screen, signifying that the songwriter was going through some hardships during the making of this song. In reality Axl Rose was going through a separation from his at the time girlfriend. So I suppose that’s why the video clip decided to include so many allusions to detachment and separation.

Like a typical stadium rock band this song is chock-full of random ‘epic-ness’, provided by scenes of the band playing stadium-wide sold out shows, a slow mo shot of the band walking down a tunnel with only their silhouettes to leave the fans in wonder. I don’t know how many damn guitar solos this song has.

Cut to Axl ‘I always wear a bandana’ Rose jumping of an oil tanker and swimming with dolphins then to guitarist Slash standing on water as he delivers another guitar solo then to a search and rescue team retrieving the beloved renegade lead singer. One cannot help but wonder how he got on an oil tanker in the middle of the ocean.

This music video clip is just WAY too 90’s.

 

4. Madonna – Bed Time Story (1995)

Production Cost: $5,000,000 ~ $7,428,510 (2011)

Madonna made a music video. Great.

 

3. Madonna – Die Another Day (2002):

Production Cost: $6,100,000 ~ $7,677,421 (2011)

Madonna AGAIN?!?! This was made when Bond films were on the wane with the Pierce Brosnan Bond series clearly getting too old to play a 30-something spy who still managed to bed one of the most beautiful and deadly women in the world. I mean he was hilarious in Mrs. Doubtfire and pretty cool in Golden Eye but after that his Bond movies went downhill.

I guess that’s why the studio decided to not only give Madonna a cameo in the movie as some fencing instructor but also allow her to make the song to the movie of the same name.  The music video features Madonna being tortured while the inner good and bad versions of herself duel to the death with fencing swords.

Don’t Forget Jaws was also Mr. Larson in Happy Gilmore

I think I saw a guy with metallic teeth ala Jaws in the clip, a nice homage to the past Bond villain. It seems after its release this song became the most successful 007 theme song since the 1980’s; then again it was also nominated for a Golden Raspberry award for worst original song.

 

2. Madonna – Express Yourself (1989)

Production Cost: $5,000,000 ~ $9,129,879 (2011)

The late 80’s has to be my least favourite period of that decade. But to be honest I think I prefer this Madonna period compared to her 90’s era and her continuing attempt to stay hip and cool in the 2000’s. How much money does this woman want? Honestly, she made dozes of hits in her life, you’d think by the late 90’s she’d be through with this.

It’s hard to believe that this video was directed by David Fincher, the man who brought us such movies as Se7en, Fight Club and The Social Network. The video clip was heavily inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis which is pretty cool although I don’t see a political message in Madonna’s song.

 

1. Michael Jackson feat. Janet Jackson – Scream (1995)

Production Cost: $7,000,000 ~ $10,399,914 (2011)

You gotta love Jheri curl Jackson

It’s still weird to take a step back and consider Michael Jackson to be dead. We grew up with the guy coming out of the radio, speakers and MTV! His personal life was rifled with controversy and oddities but the man really did connect with those who loved music, and I’ll never forget watching Motown’s 25th Anniversary where he first busted out Moonwalk.

This music video featured crazy ass CGI (for the time) of Jackson and his sister in a space station, doing futuristic leisure activities whilst screaming and singing.

Scream was released more than a decade after the Motown performance and yet Jackson was still reigning supreme as the King of Pop. This video won awards in the category of Best Short Form Music Video at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards. I find this video highly unconventional for Jackson’ repertoire; a video clip defined by its CGI and not its dance moves. Peronsally I’d rather watch a clip of his Motown performance.

 

I really wish they did an episode of Beavis and Butthead with them watching all the most expensive music videos…well now that they have come back to MTV who knows what’s in store for our favorite socially awkward teenage delinquents.