Oh the 90’s, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. Our pants were baggy, our drinks had floaty bits in them on purpose, and the biggest computer worry was choosing which solitaire deck to play with.
The 90’s were a glorious golden age for music videos. They were still a young art form when the 1990s began, but by the end of the decade music videos and video directors were arguably at their commercial and artistic peak.
A Definitive ranking of the best 10 music videos of the 90s. (O.K., 11 because I couldn’t choose!)
11. Pearl Jam – Do the Evolution
The animated music video for “Do the Evolution” was co-directed by Kevin Altieri, known for his direction on Batman: The Animated Series, and Todd McFarlane, better known for his work with the popular comic book Spawn and Korn’s 1999 “Freak on a Leash” video.
10. Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight
One of those videos you need to watch the whole thing to ‘get – it features Cherry playing different characters and seeing the story from different perspectives.
9. Beastie Boys – Intergalactic
Some people may hate on me choosing this over “sabotage” but GUYS – SPACE AND ROBOT FIGHTS!!!!
8. The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony
Who would have thought a music video of some angry dude walking could be so interesting!
7. Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity
In the group’s breakthrough, one-shot video for “Virtual Insanity,” Kay takes his place in a small grey and white room, effortlessly dancing about as the floor and furniture moves below and around him. But as director Jonathan Glazer explained, the room’s walls are actually moving in the video, which was nominated for ten VMA nominations and won Video of the Year in 1997.
6. Foo Fighters – Big Me
You gotta remember that this video was very pre-internet meme. It’s the original meme video. Foo Fighters turned this around so quickly; the Mentos ads they spoof here were still an awfully new phenomenon when the group launched into this note-perfect clip.
5. Radiohead – Karma Police
4. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
In his striped green sweater, Kurt Cobain led Nirvana through the high school pep rally from hell, complete with Anarchy cheerleaders, that no one will soon forget.
3. Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice
Jonze and Fatboy Slim reached peak music video in 1999. Christopher Walken, dancing. Gold.
2. Fatboy Slim – Praise You
Here, Spike Jonze unleashes his fictional dance troupe on an unsuspecting California movie theater.
1. The Chemical Brothers – Let Forever Be
At #1 complete reversal from the iconic Spike Jonez one shot hand-cam of “Praise You”, the quintessential Michel Gondry video is meticulously crafted. Riffing on the details spoils a sense of discovery, but the video’s most impressive feat is the painstaking, DIY approach to special effects and filmmaking itself.
Werid Al Yankovic – Amish Paradise
It may depend how old you were in the 90’s but for me Weird Al Yankovic’s Bad Hair Day occupied my tape player more than anything else. To this day I do not know any of the words to Coolio’s Gangers Paradise – it’s all Amish up in my brain dome.