Top 10 Epic Michael Jackson Music Videos That We'll Always Cherish

Tags: #MichaelJackson ,   #Thriller ,   #RemembertheTime ,   #KingOfPop

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2022-09-24 18:00:05

Music video never existed in Michael Jackson's vocabulary, as he preferred the term "short movie." The musician was all about extravagant videos that were rarely shorter than five minutes, and sometimes they turned into half an hour epics! Michael Jackson set the standards which only a few artists like Taylor Swift could live up to, but not consistently. 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 our list of his top 10 best songs he never performed live.

10. Ghosts

"Ghosts" is an underappreciated masterpiece

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. While "Ghosts" is one of the songs performed, 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 the art and not the money. Unfortunately, the video never got enough attention as, at the time, the media was more interested in his personal life and alleged scandals. They made him look like a monster, like the one he becomes in the "Ghosts." 

9. Scream

"Scream" video was so different than everything Michael Jackson ever did

Janet Jackson featured as the backing vocal on more than a couple of Michael Jackson's tracks, but "Scream" was their first and the only duet. Once again, Michael spared no expense, so with a $7 million cost, this is still one of the most expensive music videos produced. 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 shot in black and white, 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

Pay attention to the story in "Who Is It" music video

"Who Is It" is one of the most underrated and unique Michael Jackson songs, and the same could be said for the video. Directed by David Fincher, this is a dark story about a rich man (played by MJ, of course!) who is in pain as he feels that his girlfriend is cheating on him. Every second of the song goes perfectly with this short movie, which could have easily been turned into a Netflix show.

Talking about the video, Fincher explained that he wanted full creative freedom while promising Michael that he won't force him to do anything. Michael agreed, and the final result is this masterpiece that will test the quality of your subwoofer!

7. Black or White

"Black or White" premiere was huge, worldwide event

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.

There are many memorable sequences in the video, including the morphing scene, which was previously seen only in a couple of movies, including "Terminator 2". The extended version of the clip was highly controversial, as Michael was trashing the streets and destroying the windows featuring racist graffiti. Oh, and the video stars controversial Wade Robson, who later unsuccessfully accused Michael of sexually abusing him. 

6. Smooth Criminal

"Smooth Criminal" video is like a funny gangster movie

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 and not gangster theme. Like 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, which was done with wires. However, MJ did perform the move live using the special shoes which he patented. His white suit and fedora became iconic, and the video was featured in the successful video game "Moonwalker."

5. Remember the Time

Michael Jackson had tons of stars in his "Remember the Time" video

The "Dangerous" era had so many memorable videos, but "Remember the Time" was the best of them. The director John Singleton took us to old Egypt while assembling a stunning cast, including Eddie Murphy, David Bowie's wife Iman, and even Magic Johnson. In this one, Michael plays a mysterious figure that seduces the pharaoh's wife and spends most of the video running away from his 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

"Beat It" was a dangerous video to film

Historically, "Beat It" is one of the most important videos in history. Contrary to popular belief, this was the first Michael Jackson video to have an MTV worldwide premiere. More importantly, this was also the first clip by an African-American artist on the same channel. While the video is best known for the massive dance scenes and Eddie Van Halen solo, you may be shocked to find out that most of the cast were the gang members!

Michael did the impossible, as 80 members of Bloods and Creeps agreed to have a truce and star 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 that he decided to use real switchblades in a knife-fight scene!

3. Earth Song

"Earth Song" is a powerful call to save Earth

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 is almost screaming in the last part of the video, we can see trees rising, animals and people getting back to life, and oceans populated once again. Though it was filmed in 1995, the video remains current, sending the message that it's not too late to save Earth but that no one can do it but us.

2. Bad

"Bad" is all about being what you are, even if your friends don't like it

"Bad" is an 18-minute movie directed by a legendary Martin Scorsese, and back in the day, it was almost impossible to catch this version on MTV or anywhere else. The video tells a story about a schoolboy coming back home where he meets 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 arguing, 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!

1. Thriller

"Thriller" was the triumph of creativity

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 $900,000, he asked, but in the end, he managed to persuade Showtime and MTV to finance the project.

The video was a huge success and featured smart twists, thus living up to its name. Michael was inspired by the movie "An American Werewolf in London," directed by John Landis, so naturally, he hired him for the Thriller. The most unusual thing about the video was that it totally changed this iconic 80s dance song, as 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.

As we remember Michael's best videos on our top ten list, we also feel the anger as none of them was remastered, even though they would look fabulous in UltraHD. Even ancient ones like Thriller are shot on 35mm film, and seeing them for the first time in all their glory would be, well, thrilling.

What are some of your favorite Michael Jackson's short films, and why? Do you remember which one you watched first? Give us your view in the comments!

Photo: YouTube screenshot



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