August 1, 1981, was a historic moment for music lovers across the United States. It was the launch date for the very first 24-hour all music video channel, MTV. This moment turned music from beats you could groove to into something you could not only hear, but could also see. Music videos changed the face of music, and the first video to be shown on MTV was the ironic "Video Killed the Radio Star," by The Buggles.
Much like other historically significant events, the release of MTV was so important to so many people that they can recall exactly where they were when they sat with their friends to watch the next 24 hours of videos. Can you recall where you were?
The music videos on this list will take you back to your favorite moments in life. Who didn't goof off to "Bohemian Rhapsody" with their friends? Or did you just chill while watching "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on the weekend? Do you still get giddy when you watch the sketch-video of "Take Me On" by A-Ha?
These music videos will take you "Back in Time." But, do you think you can figure out which video is which when you only have an image to reflect on? Take this quiz to find out!
The music video for November Rain is considered to be one of the most expensive music videos ever made, costing over $1 million to make, at the time. The music video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography.
As the lead single from their third album, What I’ve Done presents itself as a noticeable stylistic departure from the band’s older sound. The music video also shows the band experiencing some level of personal growth as well, since it tries to highlight problems in the world; such as pollution, racism, terrorism and poverty.
This song was meant to call out posers who blindly follow trends and styles that they don’t understand or truly identify with. The band actually wanted to get Seth Green to star in the music video but he was unavailable at the time.
This song regularly makes “Top Rock Songs” lists everywhere with the meaning and interpretation of the song oftentimes differing from person to person. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that Kurt Cobain supposedly wrote the lyrics less than five minutes before recording the song.
The song "Jeremy” and its music video were released in 1992. The music video won MTV’s Best Video of the Year award, as well as three other awards at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Upon its release in 1975, this rock and roll epic was met with critical acclaim. Almost 20 years later, it returned to mainstream popularity after its inclusion in the hit film, "Wayne’s World," and also after the death of frontman Freddie Mercury.
Released in 2011, Paradise has been cited by many Coldplay fans as the band returning to their roots. The band even had a special music video for the song that was specifically made for the 2102 Summer Paralympics.
Metallica music videos are usually known for their gritty style that showcase performances from the band members. However, this video stood out for the fact that it did not include any of the band members at all; it was instead a complete narrative driven experience.
This was the band’s third single off their debut album. It holds the special accolade of being their only number one single in the US. The music video is also notable for having each of the band members' girlfriends (at the time) being shown.
Bring Me To Life combines haunting instrumentals, melodic vocals, and powerful lyrics into a moving song that has been certified platinum in the US. The music video was also nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.
Many versions of this Nine Inch Nails single are actually titled “Closer to God” and most fans have taken that to be the true name of the song. The music video was controversial for its inclusion of religious imagery intermingled with politics, animal cruelty, and sexuality.
“Hurt” was originally a song by the band Nine Inch Nails, however, it was covered by Johnny Cash, who made a music video for it as well. This video was awarded the Best Video of the Year Grammy Award.
The lyrics were meant to serve as criticism of music critics that were constantly criticizing their music. The song was not only a success with their fans but, surprisingly, it was also met with praise from critics as well.
While it wasn’t one of their first songs (it appeared on their ninth album), Rock You Like a Hurricane is today considered to be one of their most recognizable songs. In fact, the song has been used in countless ads, TV shows, movies, and video games in the past 30 years.
Released in 1994, Black Hole Sun is Soundgarden’s most popular and successful song. However, it also happens to be probably one of the most melancholy singles they have ever released, surprising the band with how well the song was received.
Learn to Fly was #1 on the rock charts and Foo Fighters' first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100. The music video was also well received, earning them the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video.
Freak On a Leash was directed by Todd McFarlane, a comic book creator who is known for his work on Spider-Man and the creation of Spawn. This music video won at least three awards and was praised for its mix of animation and live action performances.
X-Ray Spex is a UK rock band that has had numerous breakups and hiatuses over the years. When they first came on the scene, they released only one album (before disappearing from the music scene for years) and gave us the interesting music video for their song, “Identity."
Named after the military 21-gun salute, many critics and fans have praised the song and music video for its beautiful anti-war message. The song was so well-loved that it received a Grammy nomination in 2010.
Gimme All Your Lovin' is one of ZZ Top’s highest charting singles in the US and it is tied with their cover of “Viva Las Vegas” as their best single on the UK music charts. The music video plays around with the ZZ Top image, using things like the ZZ Keychain, the ZZ Eliminator Car, and the beautiful ZZ Girls.
Like most great Queen songs, I Want to Break Free mixes soulful lyrics and melodic instrumentals to create an unforgettable combination. The music video was much more lighthearted, consisting of the band members in women’s clothes and imitating a popular soap opera.
The Norwegian group, a-ha, found their only number one hit in their song “Take on Me.” This achievement was due largely to the success of the music video, which was nominated for eight MTV Video Music Awards and won six of them.
While many rock and roll fans love Twisted Sister, they would be surprised to know that “We're Not Gonna Take It” is actually their only single that reached the Top 40 (at number 21). The accompanying music video was extremely comedic, making excessive use of slapstick humor and silly jokes.
Slipknot is a band that looks scary, acts scary, and sounds scary, but in reality their songs touch on depressing and sad topics that usually affect the band members. The song earned the band a Grammy nomination but they lost to Metallica.
While everyone remembers “Smells like Teen Spirit,” this song off of Nirvana’s final studio album was well received when it was released. It not only topped the rock charts but the music video won two MTV Video Music Awards.
Although it was criticized for its subversive sexual themes, the music video for this song still went on to win the MTV Video Music Award for Best Special Effects. The song was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
As one of Marilyn Manson’s most critically acclaimed songs (from one of his most critically acclaimed albums), it is only to be expected that controversy followed this song. The music video showed a reenactment of the JFK assassination, with Manson playing the role of JFK.
A powerful hard rock ballad by the Australian rock and roll band, AC/DC, Thunderstruck was released as a lead single to their 12th studio album. There was initially no music video for the song but a year later, one was created consisting solely of an energetic live performance at Donington Park.
A song that presented itself as a teenage/ young adult fantasy about their older teacher, this Van Halen song was criticized by some parents for its suggestive lyrics. However, this criticism, plus the hilarious and sexy music video, just helped to cement the song as one of the best rock and roll hits of all time.
With countless albums and countless hit songs under their belt, it’s hard to find one song that encapsulates just what AC/DC is all about. Many fans love to cite “Let There Be Rock,” one of the band’s earlier songs, at their defining sound and anthem.
The song is originally a jazz-influenced pop hit of the 1980s by British singer George Michael. The hard rock band, Seether, did a wonderful cover of it in 2007. The original video touched on themes of guilt, betrayal, and infidelity.
The Beastie Boys were a household name by the time their fourth album rolled around, so how did they open up this video? They did it with the heavy distorted bass sounds of “Sabotage." The Spike Jonze directed music video was nominated for five awards at the MTV Music Video Awards.
Linkin Park had defined their sound with their first album: guttural lyrics mixed with powerful instrumentals and deeply emotional lyrics. So, how did they build on that? With “Numb,” quite possibly their most critically acclaimed song to date.
“Sober” was released in the '90s amidst a whole slew of party songs that were being performed by rock bands and hip-hop artists. However, this song took a more mediated look at alcoholism and drug use – showing sympathy and understanding for the plight of addicts.
While many rock and roll listeners of this day and age may not recognize the name Peter Gabriel, the fact still remains that this UK musician helped to shape the genre as we know it today. Sledgehammer hit #1 on the Hot 100, won a record nine MTV Video Music Awards, and was nominated for three Grammy Awards.
Music can be used to uplift but it can also be used to draw attention to the harsh reality of the world as well. Frontman Steven Tyler drew attention to the ramifications of child abuse on victims with this powerful message and a song that became an instant hit on release.
A song about Buddy Holly made by a band full of nerdy looking guys, this will never be a hit. While that’s what singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo thought, the exact opposite happened. This second single off of their debut album catapulted to the forefront with mainstream audiences and gave them four MTV Video Music Awards.
Like so many other bands on this list, REM underestimated the appeal of their lead single and were pleasantly surprised at the positive reception it garnered. The song gave them two Grammy Awards: Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best Short Form Music Video.
A controversial song for a good reason, since it includes lyrics like: “I enjoy stealing, It's just as simple as that” and “When I want something, I don't want to pay for it.” The song still has a place on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Originally released in 1975, “Walk This Way” did very well as a standalone Aerosmith song. However, the version that everybody remembers is the one that was released more than a decade later. It included Run-D.M.C. and was one of the first mainstream hits to mix rock and hip-hop.
Hate it or love it, there is one thing that everyone can agree on, “Don't Come Around Here No More” is a weird music video. This is understandable since the entire video draws inspiration from Alice in Wonderland but puts the band’s own weird twist on the subject matter.
While other bands were making music videos that mixed performances with story driven narratives, Weezer decided to go back to basics with the video for this single. The entire video consists of just the band performing the song in a room with various camera angles.
One listen to this song and you can get the gist of what its talking about – city life and the jungle-like dog-eat-dog world that comes with it. The band has stated that the song is specifically about Hollywood and the life that comes with living there.
A song that has a simple yet powerful message, “Give It Away” is centered around selflessness and altruism. The music video won MTV Video Music Awards for "Breakthrough Video," and "Best Art Direction."
Often cited as the leaders of the Second British Invasion of music into the US, The Police is one of the best-selling musical acts of all time and have no fewer than six Grammy Awards under their belt. Their iconic song, “Every Breath You Take,” touches on themes of obsession, passion and love.
While the title could signify people (fictional or otherwise) that are larger than life figures in society, the song actually goes on to speak about everyday heroes that keep society functioning with little to no praise. The song has, on numerous occasions, been used to celebrate the dedication of civil servants across the country.
“Basket Case” deals with themes of anxiety and societal pressure. It topped the rock charts for over a month when it came out. Fitting with the song’s subject matter, the video places the band members in an actual mental institution.
The eclectic vocals of “Tonight, Tonight” are matched and possibly surpassed by the strange imagery that is consistently present in the song’s music video. The music video won six MTV Video Music Awards and is considered by many rock and roll fans to be one of the best music videos of all time.
Rage Against The Machine had a message that they wanted to get out and they weren’t going to wait to do it – and thus their debut song, “Killing In The Name,” was created. The song deals with themes of revolution against institutionalized racism and law enforcement brutality.