Ever since the 1980s, music videos have become part and parcel with newly released songs themselves; allowing artists to create an image to determine how the song should be received. Music videos began as fun, a simple way to show off the song in its full glory, however since the turn of mid-1990s and the early 2000’s, music videos have gripped the western world. The amount of money spent on music videos have increased dramatically over the years, and yet the classics still remain on top. Just what has happened to the world of celebrity, have they either lost their sense of imagination, or perhaps put on their brain and decided that spending millions of dollars on music videos just isn’t worth it? The average cost of a music video is about $100,000 to $200,000, which in itself is enough to buy an unbelievable amount of theater seats. Compare that to the millions of dollars which only the top artists have the luxury to play around with, silly money some may say; although perhaps it is a sign of making it in the music industry, to spend over $1 million on a single music video.
We have come up with the list of the twenty most expensive music videos ever made, then you can decide whether they were worth the money.
20) In at 20 is the King of Pop that is Michael Jackson (you may notice a little more of the music genius in this list...). His Black and White music video was released in November 1991, and starting off this list cost $1.5 million.
19) Japanese singer-songwriter, Ayumi Hamasaki has been dubbed the Empress of Pop, a title well deserved for a music video costing $1.6 million (in line with Michael Jackson, the Empress of Pop is a well justified title). Her song entitled Green was released in 2008, and holds a firm place as the 19th most expensive music video of all time.
18) Number 18 is held firmly by TLC, with their music video to their single Un-pretty costing a nice $1.6 million to make. Known as one of the greatest trio of music singers of all time, there is no question that Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins, Lisa ‘Left-Eye’ Lopes and Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas would make an appearance on this list, so sit back and enjoy watching on your home theater seating.
17 & 16) Once again Ayumi Hamasaki makes an appearance with her music videos to Fairyland and My Names Woman costing an impressive $2 million each, thus meaning that as well as being the Empress of Pop, this Japanese singer is the only non-western artist to appear on the most expensive music videos list.
15) Also costing a cool $2 million was George Michael’s Freeek! Released in 2002, and directed by Joseph Kahn, there is little wander that the music video cost so much with the visions of Kahn, known to make impressive videos for the likes of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Janet Jackson.
14) Missy Elliot’s illusively named She’s a Bitch also cost the impressive figure of $2 million to create. The video which consists of special effects along with a slightly impressive wardrobe saw the female rapper creep up the most expensive music videos list.
13) Will Smith, funny man turned actor, turned singer turned actor made the $2 million music video mark with his summertime song Miami. Will Smith is notorious for spending a fair buck or two on his music videos, as well as earning a mint from his acting, so there is no question that he should make it onto the list. Will had a vision to include morphs in his music video, costing $14,000 each morph.
12) Backstreet Boys make it onto the list with their music video for Larger Than Life which cost $2.1 million, just beating the likes of Missy and Will to the 12th position. Containing sci-fi themed effects and animations, the budget seems very apparent to the title.
11) Michael Jackson has made it to the 11th spot, with another expensive video Bad. Created in 1987, he began the phenomenon of incredibly priced music videos to the eagerly awaiting viewing public. Costing $2.2 million the music video seemed just like a mini movie, lasting for 18 minutes.
10) This is where the big bucks begin to enter the list (and you thought we were already in the big bucks?). Canadian singer Celine Dion has released many well known songs including the infamous My Heart Will Go On, however It’s All Coming Back to Me Now is her most expensive music video to date, costing a cool $2.3 million. Directed by Nigel Dick, which was shot between June and July 1996 in the Palace of the Czech Emperor; the full version lasts 7.44 minutes, whereas the single version lasts 5.30 minutes in length.
9) Number nine is held by Busta Rhymes (that wasn’t done on purpose). His hit What’s it gonna be? Featuring Janet Jackson, this music video cost a total of $2.4 million. Again the morphing theme comes into play with Busta and Janet morphing into various shapes and forms. Each morph cost $30,000, whilst Busta’s glass costume cost $40,000. Directed by Hype Williams was inspired by the mover The Terminator, something which, of course would have a lasting effect on many.
8) The starlet herself was bound to make an appearance at some point, featuring the rap mogul Jay Z; Mariah Carey’s Heartbreaker cost a rather large fortune to many, and yet remains at number eight on the list. Costing $2.5 million, the video directed by Brett Ratner created Mariah Carey into two conflicting roles, one an innocent and sweet Mariah and another an evil darker haired Mariah. The video took on the role of a mini chick flick movie, which saw a man caught between two women, inspired by the 1973’s Enter the Dragon, as well as the number one hit musical Grease. The video was premiered on Making the Video, created by MTV in August 1990.
7) The 1980s Rap icon, known for his famous ‘You Can’t Touch This’ has incredibly made it onto the list with his lesser known single, Too Legit to Quit released in 1991. The video itself contained many celebrity appearances as well as Michael Jackson’s glove, shown on a Michael Jackson lookalike. The video cost $2.5 million to make, earning his rightful place on the most expensive music videos list.
6) Record producer, rapper, actor and men’s fashion mogul; P Diddy, aka, Puff Daddy, aka, Sean John, aka, Sean Combs holds on tightly to the number six spot. His single Victory, featuring The Notorious B.I.G and Busta Rhymes, was adapted through Bill Conti’s ‘Going the Distance’ which featured in the movie Rocky. Set in the year 3002 CE, the video saw cameo performances fromD Danny DiVito and Dennis Hopper. The video lasts eight minutes long, perhaps worth the $2.7 million spent to create it.
5) Making the massive leap from a mere $2.7 million to a rather large $4 million, Guns N’ Roses have proven that they have what it takes to make it into the big bucks. Their single Estranged was released in December 1993, lasting a movie length nine minutes long. The definitions of illusion and disillusion appear within the video, highlighting the personal life of Axl Rose separating from his then girlfriend, thus the separation and divorce theme very relevant indeed during the filming of the video.
4) The queen of pop, Madonna dominates the lower half of the most expensive music videos of all time, reaching number four with her $5 million music video for Bedtime stories. Directed by the very pricey Mark Romanek, who contributed in making the video one of Madonna’s most artistic, created in December 1994. Madonna explained that her vision was inspired by female surreal painters, such as Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington.
3) Madonna has made it again at number three on the list with her Express Yourself music video, filmed in 1989 and cost $5 million, it has often featured as one of the Top 100 Music Videos created. The video was influenced by the film Metropolis, created by Fritz Lang; it also divulged into the support of the empowerment of women.
2) Madonna’s Die Another Day music video made it to number two, narrowly missing out on the number one spot, yet dominating the list throughout. Hailed as one of the best music videos created by Madonna; the video created by Trackor who used special effects to create the second most expensive music video of all time. The video and single was released in 2002, highlighting Madonna dominating the pop charts for twenty years. It cost $6.1 million; a lot considering it was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for the worst original song, although it remains one of Madonna’s most popular songs.
1) The most expensive music video of all time is held by no other than the ultimate King of Pop and his younger sister – Michael and Janet Jackson, for their single Scream. Costing $7 million the cost would surely make anyone scream. The money paid for a Grammy won in 1996 for the best music video and a Billboard music Award. Scream is directed at the tabloid media, and a personal response from the way in which they reported the coverage of the child sexual abuse accusations made against Michael. Janet became part of the project to show her support for both the song and her brother, a very touching sign of sibling support. It has also been suggested that the song was directed at Michael’s Dad, Joseph, regarding the physical abuse towards his children and his secret fatherhood of another woman’s child.
The video lasts 4.46 minutes and was choreographed by the man himself, Michael Jackson and directed by Mr. Expense himself, Mark Romanek. The concept was left entirely to Mark, something unusual to many Michael Jackson videos, which tend to see the involvement of the King of Pop himself. The video was set on a spaceship, and saw the Jackson siblings attempting to escape from the media, and Earth to a place where they could have fun and enjoy themselves.
Janet is seen to take on a dark persona, differing to what the public is used to, with the public witnessing a stronger, controlled Janet. The video also influenced many other artists such as TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’, and Chris Brown and Lil Mama’s ‘Shawty Get Loose’.