As Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” becomes the latest classic music video to top YouTube’s billion-view club, we take a look at other iconic videos from yesteryear and why they deserve to join the exclusive club!
“Vogue” – Madonna
Current views: 148 million
Perhaps one of the most unfortunate realities of today is the lack of appreciation for Madonna’s music video body. For a generation (or two), there hasn’t been a greater female artist, and Madonna has done more for the format than anyone for as long as she has. At the top of far too many songs to mention that deserve a billion streams is the singer’s classic 1990 black-and-white video for “Vogue.” I just don’t understand how one of the greatest videos of all time still lags behind in terms of views.
“Blacksmith Hammer” – Peter Gabriel
Current views: 52 million
At the time, there was nothing quite like Peter Gabriel’s brilliant music video for “Sledgehammer.” Not only did the video create a whole new world, but it became an important reminder of the power of the format. Experimenting with different styles of clay, pixelation, and stop-motion animation proved groundbreaking, winning 9 MTV Music Video Awards in 1986; the most ever recorded for a single video. The video was always one of the first to help the song get more boost and radio requests, which led to Gabriel scoring its first No. 1 hit.
“Remember the time” – Michael Jackson
Current views: 451 million
While “Billie Jean” has made the billion-view club and “Thriller” is probably a Halloween season away from it, it’s quite shocking that “Remember The Time” – one of the most iconic and most lavish of Jackson’s career – still hasn’t reached that benchmark. Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” featuring Juicy J which is heavily inspired by this video was the first female music video to cross a billion views, and it has now amassed over 3.2 billion views, and that also in just 7 years!
“Hungry as the Wolf” – Duran Duran
Current views: 15 million
It’s possible that some of the views have disappeared as ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ has apparently only been available for the past three years on the platform, but 15 million seems like a shame for what could be one of the first. most famous music videos of all time. . Unlike most videos of the time, Duran Duran injected cinematic storytelling into their international tales, and this video proved to be the catalyst for myriad imitators that took us to a whole other world.
“Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears
Current views: 685 million
As iconic as the song is and as much as Spears has made the news, it’s pretty hard to believe that “Baby One More Time” hasn’t hit the billion-view point yet. There’s probably no other artist in the past 25 years whose debut music video has been as celebrated or as heavily debated and dissected as this one. For a generation that stood by the singer with the ‘Free Britney’ movement, it’s clear her impact hasn’t been the same as it has been for female artists in the years. who followed.
“Kiss” – Prince
Current views: 55 million
Prince’s “Kiss” is one of the artist’s most famous songs and instantly recognizable music videos. Literally hundreds of artists after him have tried to replicate the sexiness and style created in this daring video, but the original unfortunately doesn’t seem to have achieved the popularity it deserves. One of the biggest shames of the new metrics by which a song’s popularity is derived, we forget about iconic songs like this and the ones that follow get all the glory.
“Rhythm Nation” – Janet Jackson
Current views: 26 million
In fact, I had to double-check the view count because I was so shocked at the low view count for this memorable Janet Jackson video. “Rhythm Nation” and its dance moves are iconic, and it’s such a shame that actor Joseph-Gorden Levitt’s tribute dance to Jackson on “Lip Sync Battle” actually garnered as many views as the quirky!
“Freedom! ’90” – George Michael
Current views: 109 million
One of the first and most prominent artists not to feature in his own music video, George Michael’s ‘Freedom 90’ was a celebration of art, fashion and music brought together in the most editorial way possible. . The clip set a trend we still see today of models lip-syncing to popular songs. It’s a brilliant video and the song just didn’t get the love it deserves.
“Nothing compares to 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor
Current views: 300 million
Before D’Angelo’s iconic “How Does It Feel” (also missing from the billion-view club!), there was also, and perhaps even more iconic, Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”. The simple close-up of Connor’s face as she sings the ballad written by Prince is breathtaking. An entire generation cried when they saw that tear roll down O’Connor’s face. Vulnerability has never seemed so powerful.
“Juicy” – The Notorious BIG
Current views: 436 million
It’s quite shocking that no music video from The Notorious BIG or even 2Pac makes it into the 1 billion view club. “Juicy” is Biggie’s most-watched music video right now and it’s surprising that such an important song and video in hip-hop history should lag behind like this.
“Crazy” – Aerosmith
Current views: 597 million
Aerosmith ruled the music video world in the first half of the ’90s. “Crazy”, the group’s first video featuring actress Alicia Silverstone became a smash hit and their collaboration became one of the couples the most successful. Silverstone would go on to become a movie star and Aerosmith continued to shine, but in terms of video, nothing beats this triumph.
All told, the billion-view club on YouTube isn’t really representative of the biggest hits or even the most popular videos of the time. It’s unfortunate that as we change metrics and the market constantly evolves, many iconic music videos are lagging behind, and these historically important and often incredibly impactful works aren’t getting the appreciation or reverence they did. deserve.
While it’s been good to see songs like Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” or A-Ha’s “Take On Me” or even Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child Of Mine” cross the billion mark , hoping that some of these videos will once again reach that level of deserving love over time.