The term "Music video" never existed in Michael Jackson's vocabulary, as he preferred the phrase "short movie." The musician was about extravagant videos, sometimes turning into half an hour epics! Therefore, Michael Jackson set the standards which only a few artists like Taylor Swift could occasionally live up to. That's why picking the top ten best Michael Jackson music videos was fun but also incredibly hard. If you want more about Michael Jackson, check out our top 10 songs he never performed live.
While Michael made a few epics in the eighties ("Captain EO" or "Moonwalker"), "Ghosts" was always our favorite. The 39-minute video is incredibly atmospheric, as Michael brilliantly played both the hero and the antagonist. However, "Ghosts" is only one of the featured songs, as we can also hear "2 Bad" and "Is It Scary."
Michael Jackson paid 15 million dollars for this project, proving that it was always about art, not money. Unfortunately, the video never got enough attention as, at the time, the media was more about his personal life and alleged scandals. Thus, they made him look like a monster, like the one he becomes in the "Ghosts."
We can hear Janet Jackson as the backing vocal on more than a couple of Michael Jackson's tracks, but "Scream" was their first and only duet. With a $7 million cost, this is still one of the most expensive music videos. It's also quite unique, as Michael and Janet perform in futuristic suits while enjoying time on a spaceship.
Despite impressive visual effects, the video is monochromatic, making it stand out. However, the most epic part was the most simple one – watching Michael and Janet dancing perfectly synchronized. This is what gives us chills every time!
8. Who Is It
"Who Is It" is one of the most unique Michael Jackson songs, and the same applies to the video. This is a dark story directed by David Fincher about a rich man (played by MJ, of course!) who is in pain, feeling that his girlfriend is cheating on him. Every second of the song perfectly synchronizes with this short movie, which could be a Netflix show.
Talking about the video, Fincher explained that he wanted complete creative freedom while promising Michael that he won't force him to do anything. Michael agreed, and the final result is this masterpiece to test the quality of your subwoofer!
7. Black or White
Describing the hype about the "Black or White" video is almost impossible. Directed by John Landis, who worked with Michael on the "Thriller," the video premiered simultaneously in nearly 30 countries and was watched by half a billion! Michael often talked about equality, and this video took us to many parts of the world, reminding us that diversity is humankind's strength.
The video has many memorable sequences, including the morphing scene, previously seen only in a few movies, including "Terminator 2". However, the extended version of the clip was highly controversial. Michael was trashing the streets and destroying the windows featuring racist graffiti. Oh, and the video stars the controversial Wade Robson, who unsuccessfully accused Michael of sexually abusing him.
6. Smooth Criminal
When you watch "Smooth Criminal," you always wonder if Michael was already making the video in his head while writing the lyrics? The answer is no, as he originally wanted a western, not gangster, theme. As he did with the "Thriller," the music video combines lurking danger with comedy elements. There are so many small details here that you'll always discover something new while watching it!
Of course, the best-known segment involves Michael and the cast leaning 45 degrees forward, done with wires. However, MJ performed the move live using the special shoes he patented. His white suit and fedora became iconic, and the video is in the successful video game "Moonwalker."
5. Remember the Time
The "Dangerous" era had so many memorable videos, but "Remember the Time" was the best among them. The director John Singleton took us to old Egypt while assembling a stunning cast. They include Eddie Murphy, David Bowie's wife Iman, and even Magic Johnson. Here, Michael plays a mysterious figure seducing the pharaoh's wife, spending most of the video running away from the guard.
However, there are also romantic and massive dance scenes and, of course, lots of humor! Even though he was the only comedian in the video, Murphy is deadly serious in this one! Although the footage romanticizes old times, it also reminds us of how invaluable human life was back then.
4. Beat It
Historically, "Beat It" is one of the most influential videos in history. Contrary to popular belief, this was the first Michael Jackson video to have an MTV worldwide premiere. More importantly, this was the first clip by an African-American artist on the same channel. While the video is recognizable for the massive dance scenes and Eddie Van Halen's solo, you may be shocked that most of the cast were gang members!
Michael did the impossible, as 80 members of Bloods and Creeps had a truce and starred in the video! Knowing the history of their violent encounters, it was a miracle that the filming went without a single incident and sent the message that the violence must end. Oh yeah, the director Bob Giraldi claims he decided on using real switchblades in a knife-fight scene! Thankfully, the video looks better than ever in its 2022 4K remaster!
3. Earth Song
Michael knew how to speak about the environment while never sounding pathetic, and "Earth Song" is his most emotional delivery. It's impossible not to be on the edge of tears while watching Michael in the burnt forest mixed with scenes of violence toward animals and humans. But while it tells the story of humanity's dark side, it also gives us hope.
As Michael almost screams in the video's last part, we can see trees rising, animals and people coming back to life, and oceans populated again. Though it premiered in 1995, the video remains current, conveying that it's not too late to save Earth.
"Bad" is an 18-minute movie by the legendary director Martin Scorsese. However, back in the day, it was almost impossible to catch this version on MTV or anywhere else. The video is about a schoolboy coming back home and meeting his old friends, led by young Wesley Snipes. While he's keen to meet them, he doesn't feel comfortable with their schemes to rob people.
After a dramatic argument, the song finally starts in the second half of the video. Michael then appears in one of his iconic badass outfits and brings the whole gang as they take over the metro station. Like in "Beat It," we have impressive dance scenes as Michael proves that he's bad, but on his terms!
Yes, Thriller is one of the most influential and revolutionary music videos. Still, we didn't rank it first because of its legacy. This short movie came to be only because of Michael's stubbornness. His record company told him they'll never give him the $900,000 he asked, but he persuaded Showtime and MTV to finance the project.
The hugely successful video features clever twists, thus living up to its name. Michael's inspiration was the movie "An American Werewolf in London," directed by John Landis. Therefore, he hired him for the Thriller. The most unusual thing about the video was that it totally changed this iconic 80s dance song. Surprisingly, Michael skips the chorus several times, saving it for the ending minutes. However, if you've watched the video (and we're sure you did!), you know it makes sense. With the 2022 remaster, the appreciation goes to an even higher level!
As we remember Michael's best videos on our top ten list, we also feel the anger as only a few are remastered in 4K. As the UltraHD versions of "Thriller" and "Beat It" premiered in 2022, we know it will happen. Yet, we hope it will happen sooner rather than later.
What are some of your favorite Michael Jackson short films, and why? Do you remember which one you watched first? Please give us your view in the comments!
Photo: YouTube screenshot
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I had no idea they finally remastered "Thriller" and "Beat It". For years, his estate claimed it might never happen as they said it was too expensive and hard to do. I have no doubt that "Billie Jean" is next
December 19 at 06:49:56 PM