The 15 Best Music Videos Made by The World's Greatest Filmmakers (2023)

Acclaimed filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson released the music video he shot with Radiohead last week, a few days before the band released its masterpiece of a new record, A Moon Shaped Pool. Anderson’s video for “Daydreaming” is a surreal telling of the song, but also an extension of the the cinematic aesthetic that Anderson has been exploring in films like Magnolia, There Will Be Blood and Inherent Vice*.

It’s an interesting move for an established filmmaker, whose work is routinely cited as among the best American films released in the last decade or two, to dive into the seemingly fading music video format. But it’s nothing new for popular directors to jump from features on the big screen to short videos for the small screen. Some directors, such as Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, and David Fincher, got their start in music videos before making the jump to feature films. Others, like Anderson, have jumped back and forth. Here are the best examples of established filmmakers who have pulled a PTA.

15. Sam Peckinpah — Julian Lennon’s “Valotte”

It’s a match made in WTF heaven: the semi-overlooked son of the best Beatle joins forces with the semi-overlooked bulwark of beefy masculine cinema. Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs) was hired to direct two simplistic music videos for singer — and son of John — Julian Lennon two months before the Straw Dogs and Wild Bunch director’s death, the most tolerable of which is the Beatles-esque piano ballad, “Valotte,” which garnered Lennon a 1985 MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best New Artist. The other video is for a forgettable faux-reggae tune called “Too Late For Goodbyes.

14. Lars Von Trier - Laid Back’s “Bakerman”

Danish electronic music duo Laid Back hired Danish enfant terrible Lars Von Trier to direct the music video for their song Bakerman��������� in 1990, following his initial cinematic success with movies like The Element of Crime. It’d be a few more years until he broke all the rules with the Dogme 95 movement, and even more until he became a full fledged vulgar auteur with movies like Antichrist and Nymphomaniac.

13. Jim Jarmusch - The Raconteurs’ “Steady, As She Goes”

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Jack White is a weird genius with carefully-styled hair, so it’s no surprise that he’d tap 1990s American independent cinema pioneer (and dude with the greatest hairdo) Jim Jarmusch to direct a video for the rocker’s post-White Stripes side project, The Raconteurs. The Stranger Than Paradise and Down By Law filmmaker was a member of the band The Del-Byzanteens, and currently heads the metal band SQÜRL, but he had also previously directed music videos for Tom Waits, The Talking Heads and Neil Young.

12. Rian Johnson —The Mountain Goats’ “Woke Up New”

From Mountain Goats to Star WarsRian Johnson’s come a long way. Mountain Goats mastermind John Darnell allegedly watched Johnson’s debut film Brick, only to find that the credits listed the music by someone called The Hospital Bombers,” which was a reference to his Mountain Goats song, “The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton.” Darnell then reached out to Johnson to direct the video for “Woke Up New,” and even collaborated with Johnson on The Life of the World to Come, a filmed live performance film of The Mountain Goats’ album of the same name.

11. Edgar Wright — Pharrell’s “Gust of Wind”

What do you do when you bail on your Marvel movie after nearly a decade of development because the head honchos have a problem with auteurs doing what auteurs do best? You make a really fucking weird yet awesome music video with Pharrell, that’s what.

10. Kathryn Bigelow — New Order’s “Touched by the Hand of God”

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Post-Point Break, Kathryn Bigelow was big on commenting on 1980s excess, and used the video of New Order’s “Touched by the Hand of God to keep the absurdity high. Considering these guys are legendary mopers permanently outfitted in Fred Perry polos, it’s a wonder to see them strut around stage in Mötley Crüe-esque hair metal band attire.

9. Sofia Coppola — The White Stripes’ “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself

Coppola’s films are known for their soundtracks, and she’s married to Phoenix lead singer Thomas Mars, so you know she has an ear for great tunes. She can also direct the shit out of any format, including the music video. She proved that with the surprisingly simple video for the Stripes’ version of “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself,” featuring model Kate Moss dancing on a stripper pole. Coppola fans might even say the kind of tragic beauty of it anticipates the stripper scene from her 2010 film Somewhere.

8. Gasper Noe — Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “We No Who U R”

Noe is a fairly notorious director of some very provocative films like Enter the Void and Love, but his video for Nick Cave’s band is decidedly tame by comparison. The shadowy stroll through the woods is probably the most innocent thing the French director has ever done.

7. Tim Burton — The Killers’ “Bones”

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The Killers were once one of the biggest bands on the planet, so it makes sense that they’d enlist someone who had that same kind of stature in the movie business. Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands director Tim Burton stepped behind the camera for two Killers videos, including the song “Here With Me.” The short for “Bones” is a perfectly macabre mix of the director’s influences.

6. Gus Van Sant — Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge”

You couldn’t tune into MTV in the early ‘90s without seeing this video playing over and over again. It made them into music stars, and the rather simplistic video, featuring frontman Anthony Kiedis strolling through LA intercut with cross-faded and neon-colored imagery of the band performing, was the masterwork of My Own Private Idaho, Drugstore Cowboy, and eventual Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant.

5. David Lynch — Moby’s “Shot in the Back of the Head”

Weirdo auteur David Lynch hasn’t made a full feature film since 2006’s Inland Empire, but he’s been busy with his own art and advertising work since then. He found enough time to team up with his fellow transcendental meditator Moby and the animated video for his appropriately Lynchian song “Shot in the Back of the Head.” Scribbled black and white, dreamlike, and absurd, it’s Lynch as his best.

4. Spike Lee — Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”

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This is cheating a bit, mostly because Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” was conceived for Spike Lee’s groundbreaking 1989 film Do the Right Thing. So it was only natural that Lee would take over directing duties for the music video, but the video is far more than a marketing effort for the Oscar-nominated film. The message of the song, the imagery, and the film are so intertwined that the video isn’t merely an extension of the film but an entire brilliantly executed and powerful short unto itself.

3. Steven Spielberg — Cyndi Lauper’s “The Goonies R’ Good Enough”

This is kind of a cheat as well since Spielberg didnt technically direct the two-part video for “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” but Cyndi Lauper’s sorta-title-song from Richard Donner’s 1986 classic is the only music video the legendary director has ever been involved with. Spielberg even makes an appearance in a meta part of the clip, editing the very music video we’re ostensibly watching. Lauper notoriously hated the song and didn’t want to be associated with it — she wouldn’t sing it at concerts — until she included it on the 2003 compilation The Essential Cyndi Lauper.

2. Brian De Palma — Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”

Who knew the biggest Hitchcock fan in filmmaking history was also a fan of The Boss? De Palma, better known for erotic thrillers like Dressed to Kill and technical dramas like Blow Out, helped Springsteen during his Born in the USA era by directing what is likely his most iconic video. De Palma pulled together 200 extras at the St. Paul Civic Center to recreate a show. Of all the technical feats De Palma has pulled off in his directing career, none may be as impressive as getting Springsteen to dance around stage with a young Courtney Cox.

1. Martin Scorsese — Michael Jackson’s “Bad”

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John Landis may have directed the epic music video for “Thriller,” but Scorsese’s directing chops for Jackson’s title track off his 1987 album is probably the best thing he did in the ‘80s after Raging Bull. It had a huge influence on the story-based music videos that followed, and is responsible for a ton of decades’ worth of people who can’t dance trying to copy Jackson’s moves.

FAQs

Who is the best music video director in the world? ›

Here is our list of The Greatest Music Video Directors of All Time!
  • Melina Matsoukas. ...
  • Spike Jonze. ...
  • Dave Meyers. ...
  • Chris Cunningham. ...
  • Mark Romanek. ...
  • Director X. ...
  • Stéphane Sednaoui. ...
  • Jonas Åkerlund.

Who made the first music video? ›

Some suggest that the first music video was created in 1894 by Joseph Stern and Edward Mark, who set a recording of their song “The Little Lost Child” to a moving slide show and marketed it as an “illustrated song.” Though the average American did not yet own equipment to play a recording of the song, over 2 million ...

What makes a great music video? ›

It is always best to keep the idea simple and focus on story moments that will match key moments in the song. Like any narrative piece think about what's trying to be achieved in each scene. If it's too complicated or not clear enough an audience will quickly lose concentration and not connect.

Did MTV have music videos before? ›

In 1978, three years before MTV hit the airwaves, the American program “Video Concert Hall” began offering several hours of unhosted music videos every day on the USA Network.

What is the number 1 music video of all-time? ›

1. 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson.

Who made music videos popular? ›

But first let's get on with history. Although the origins of music videos began with “musical short films” that first appeared in the 1920s, they really came into prominence in the 1980s when MTV created their channel around the medium and it changed how we received our music.

What was the first ever song? ›

Hurrian Hymn No. 6” is considered the world's earliest melody, but the oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the “Seikilos Epitaph.” The song was found engraved on an ancient marble column used to mark a woman's gravesite in Turkey.

What are the 3 most important elements in film music? ›

Sound Elements of a Film Soundtrack
  • Dialogue. The dialogue is the foremost of the three “ingredients” of a soundtrack. ...
  • Foley. These are sound effects that are designed to be synchronous with the actions of a character on-screen. ...
  • Sound Effects.
24 Jun 2016

What are the 4 elements of a good video? ›

But what are the most important things to keep in mind?
...
Here are 4 key attributes you need to nail when making engaging and useful content.
  • Structure. ...
  • Quality. ...
  • Versatility. ...
  • Positioning.

What was the very 1st video played on MTV? ›

The very first music video shown on MTV was The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star." While the channel's distribution was hard to come by, the rallying cry of "I want my MTV" became a mantra for consumers.

What was the 1st MTV music video? ›

On August 1, 1981, MTV: Music Television goes on the air for the first time ever, with the words (spoken by one of MTV's creators, John Lack): “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” The Buggles' “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video to air on the new cable television channel, which initially was ...

Who revolutionized music videos? ›

The popularity of these videos helped bring the television channel MTV to fame. Jackson's success at this time was credited with rescuing the music industry from its late-1970s recession, and revolutionizing it by initiating a marketing focus on blockbuster albums and video presentation.

What is the most played song of all time? ›

It was never a hit single and got almost no play on Top 40 radio. There's even a dispute over the exact title. Yet “It's a Small World,” also known as “It's a Small, Small World” and “It's a Small World (After All),” is very likely the most played song in music history — nearly 50 million times.

What is the hottest music video of all time? ›

FBI (Official Trailer)
  • Ciara - One Two Step.
  • Beyoncé and Jay Z - Drunk in Love.
  • Chris Isaak - Wicked Game.
  • Enrique Iglesias - Escape.
  • Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's Mom.
  • Rihanna - S&M.
  • Selena Gomez - Can't Keep My Hands to Myself.
  • The White Stripes - I Just Don't Know What to do with Myself.
28 Jul 2021

What are the top 10 music videos? ›

Top 10 Best Music Videos of All Time
  • 1 Thriller - Michael Jackson. ...
  • 2 Take On Me - A-ha. ...
  • 3 Breaking The Habit - Linkin Park. ...
  • 4 Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson. ...
  • 5 November Rain - Guns N Roses. ...
  • 6 Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance. ...
  • 7 Bad Romance - Lady Gaga. ...
  • 8 Beat It - Michael Jackson.

What is the best music video of the year? ›

Recipients
YearWinner(s)Video
2015Taylor Swift (featuring Kendrick Lamar)"Bad Blood"
2016Beyoncé"Formation"
2017Kendrick Lamar"Humble"
2018Camila Cabello (featuring Young Thug)"Havana"
35 more rows

What singer has the most music videos? ›

Lady Gaga

What were the first 10 music videos? ›

First 25 Videos Played on MTV
  • “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
  • “You Better Run" by Pat Benatar.
  • “She Won't Dance With Me" by Rod Stewart.
  • “You Better You Bet" by The Who.
  • "Little Suzi's on the Up" by Ph. ...
  • "We Don't Talk Anymore" by Cliff Richard.
  • “Brass in Pocket" by The Pretenders.
  • “Time Heals" by Todd Rundgren.
29 Jul 2021

Who is first singer in the world? ›

An anonymous vocalist sings "Au Claire De La Lune" to Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, who makes the first known and oldest surviving recording of the human voice.

Who invented singing? ›

The short answer is: No one knows who invented music. No historical evidence exists to tell us exactly who sang the first song, or whistled the first tune, or made the first rhythmic sounds that resembled what we know today as music. But researchers do know it happened thousands of years ago.

Who was the first musician on earth? ›

The first musician in the Bible was Jubal, the son of Lamech. In Genesis 4:21, he is described as 'the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes'. He was the one who first created music that was played on instruments.

What are the 7 element of music? ›

Although the exact definition of music varies widely even in the West, music contains melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, pitch, silence, and form or structure.

What are the 4 most important elements in music? ›

The 5 elements of music:
  • - SOUND. In Musical Analysis, the sound is the first category that falls into the most basic and foundational one. ...
  • - HARMONY. Harmony is the gaze and the vertical conception of music. ...
  • - MELODY. Melody refers to the profile formed by any collection of pitches. ...
  • - RHYTHM. ...
  • - GROWTH.
18 Apr 2022

What are the 9 music elements? ›

  • ELEMENT.
  • Basic Related Terms.
  • Rhythm:
  • Dynamics:
  • Melody:
  • Harmony:
  • Tone color:
  • Texture:

What are the 3 main stages of creating a video? ›

The process of creating a video from concept to completion consists of three phases: Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production.

What is the most important element of a film? ›

But as filmmakers, our overriding concern should be movement. Movement also has a double meaning: 1) the physical movement of the camera or objects within the frame and 2) moving our audience emotionally.

What is the highest song quality? ›

Both WAV files and AIFF files represent the highest quality possible in the audio world – they are the files of choice for any mixing or mastering engineer looking to retain the highest quality possible. AIFF files were developed by Apple but also play on the Window's OS.

What is the highest audio quality for music? ›

What is the best audio format for sound quality? A lossless audio file format is the best format for sound quality. These include FLAC, WAV, or AIFF. These types of files are considered “hi-res” because they are better or equal to CD-quality.

What is the highest quality of music on Spotify? ›

Spotify HiFi quality

So far, we know that the HiFi subscribers will be able to consume “music in lossless audio format, with CD quality”. Given that bitrates for lossless audio can be around 1411kbps, Spotify HiFi should be a big step up from existing Spotify Premium quality, which maxes out at only 320kbps.

What is the most played video on MTV ever? ›

#1 "Thriller" - Michael Jackson.

What was the most popular video on MTV in the 80s? ›

1) Michael Jackson – Thriller (1983)

To no surprise, Michael Jackson's video “Thriller” takes the number 1 spot!

What were the first 10 music videos on MTV? ›

1, 1981.
  • “Video Killed the Radio Star,” The Buggles.
  • “You Better Run,” Pat Benatar.
  • “She Won't Dance With Me,” Rod Stewart.
  • “You Better You Bet,” The Who.
  • “Little Suzi's on the Up,” Ph. D.
  • “We Don't Talk Anymore,” Cliff Richard.
  • “Brass in Pocket,” The Pretenders.
  • “Time Heals,” Todd Rundgren.
28 Jul 2021

What were the first 3 songs played on MTV? ›

List of first music videos aired on MTV
NumberSongArtist
1"Video Killed the Radio Star"The Buggles
2"You Better Run"Pat Benatar
3"She Won't Dance With Me"Rod Stewart
4"You Better You Bet"The Who
107 more rows

What was the first black song on MTV? ›

The first video by a Black artist to receive heavy rotation on the network, “Billie Jean” opened up the door for other artists of color to be featured on MTV.

Who was the first black artist on MTV? ›

On this date in 1983, Michael Jackson became the first black artist in heavy rotation on MTV, with the music video for... On this date in 1983, the 14-minute short film for “Thriller” premiered on MTV.

Who is the king of rock? ›

Elvis Presley is, quite simply, the King of Rock & Roll. In 1954, the performer kicked off a musical revolution by modernizing traditional genres such as blues, country and bluegrass for contemporary (and more youthful) audiences.

What are the saddest music videos? ›

16 Music Videos That Will Break Your Heart
  • Coldplay, "The Scientist" ...
  • Best Coast, "Our Deal" ...
  • Sigur Rós, "Fjögur Píanó" ...
  • Arcade Fire, "We Exist" ...
  • Sam Smith, "I'm Not the Only One" ...
  • TLC, "Unpretty" ...
  • Rascal Flatts, "What Hurts the Most" ...
  • Toni Braxton, "Unbreak My Heart"
7 Dec 2015

Who is the No 1 music director in the world? ›

A. R. Rahman leads the winners with 10 awards, followed by the music director duo of Shankar–Jaikishan, who have 9. Laxmikant Pyarelal have the most nominations with 25, followed by Shankar–Jaikishan with 20, and R. D. Burman with 17.

Who is the No 1 film director in the world? ›

Steven Spielberg

Who is no1 music director in the world? ›

Top Grossing Composer at the Worldwide Box OfficeBETA
RankNameMovies
1Hans Zimmer106
2John Williams79
3Michael Giacchino45
4James Newton Howard123
77 more rows

Who is No 1 Indian director? ›

Top Directors
RankCelebrityCumulative (in Cr)
01Prashanth Neel434.700
02S.S. Rajamouli274.310
03Ayan Mukerji257.440
04Vivek Agnihotri252.900
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Who is the leader of the music industry? ›

Sir Lucian Grainge. Sir Lucian Grainge is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment.

Which music director has won the most Oscars? ›

In first place with 9 wins, is Alfred Newman

Some of his most notable work includes the scores to: Wuthering Heights (1939), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), How the West Was Won (1962), and Airport (1970). Alfred was the head of a family of major Hollywood film composers.

Who is the best music creator of all time? ›

The 10 best music producers of all-time
  • George Martin. George Martin has to be one of the most famous producers in rock history due to how much he contributed to The Beatles' success. ...
  • Keigo Oyamada. ...
  • Dr. ...
  • Steve Albini. ...
  • Jimmy Page. ...
  • Quincy Jones. ...
  • Kanye West. ...
  • Aphex Twin.
29 Jul 2022

Who is the most successful film Director of all time? ›

As of July 2022, Steven Spielberg remained the highest-grossing film director in history, amassing over 10.6 billion U.S. dollars at the global box office throughout his career. Anthony and Joe Russo, known as the Russo brothers, followed with 6.84 billion dollars.

Which director has won the most awards? ›

With four Oscars, John Ford is the most acclaimed director in the history of the awards. The films that won him these awards were The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941) and The Quiet Man (1952).

Who is the father of music director? ›

R. K. Shekhar
OriginTiruvallur, British India
Died9 September 1976 (aged 43)
GenresFilm score, classical
Occupation(s)Film composer, music director, Arranger, Music conductor
6 more rows

Who is the best music director in the world 2022? ›

Adam Blackstone Named Music Director of 2022 Oscars.

Who is the best singer in the world? ›

The greatest singing voices of all time
  • 1 of 31. Barbra Streisand. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for BSB. ...
  • 2 of 31. Etta James. Charles Paul Harris/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. ...
  • 3 of 31. Aretha Franklin. ...
  • 4 of 31. Whitney Houston. ...
  • 5 of 31. Mariah Carey. ...
  • 6 of 31. Elton John. ...
  • 7 of 31. Freddie Mercury. ...
  • 8 of 31. Adele.
4 days ago

Who is the best actor in the world? ›

If one happens to simply Google the term "Best Actor in the world", there's a list of actors that turns up with the top most position being held by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Which director has directed the most movies in Hollywood? ›

Steven Spielberg - 35

Apart from directing plenty of movies, Spielberg also happens to be the most commercially successful director of all time.

Who is the number 1 actor in India? ›

Follow Us
RankActorsStar Power
1Shahrukh Khan17705
2Salman Khan16045
3Aamir Khan15480
4Akshay Kumar14730
3 more rows

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