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The 15 Greatest ‘90s Music Videos For People Who Still Say “Remember When MTV Actually Played Music?”

Back before MTV really hit its stride with “Teen Mom,” “Pimp My Ride,” and the consistently hilarious “Ridiculousness” they were just a small cable channel finding their way while playing videos set to music. Some of them were actually bonkers too. Here are the top 15 of the 1990s.

Weezer “Buddy Holly”

Only ‘90s kids will remember the episode of “Happy Days” where Weezer performed in front of a sold-out Arnold’s Drive-In. Back before Weezer became the Weezer we know today, they were the Weezer we knew in the ‘90s when they made memorable music videos with Spike Jonze. They should consider bringing back that winning formula to regain some credibility.


Nine Inch Nails “Closer”

This is what a music video would look like if A24 produced it. The vid featured an array of unsettling imagery starting with what appeared to be a disembodied human heart pumping steam out of its fully functioning aorta. “Closer” may not be the greatest video, but it’ll certainly stick with you in the same way childhood trauma does.


Beastie Boys “Sabotage”

If you’re going to make a music video, you might as well make the best one of all time. Beastie Boys did just that by parodying 1970s cop shows. The Boys starred as Nathan Wind, Alasondro Alegré, and Vic Colfari as Bobby, “The Rookie.” Perhaps not surprisingly, the Beastie Boys actually did their own stunts too. Iconic.


Jamiroquai “Virtual Insanity”

The special effects in this one were off the charts. Specifically, Jamiroquoi’s outlandishly large hat. Like, was it a CGI hat? Did they use practical effects to make it fit his cranium? No one quite knew how they did it. I guess we’ll never know. Also, the floor moved independently for some reason.


Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

You know this one. It’s the video that brought music to the mainstream. The scene portrayed a high school pep rally gone haywire. Seemingly the only person of authority was the janitor played by a guy named Tony De La Rosa, who also reprised the role of Custodian #1 in Weird Al’s “Smells Like Nirvana” spoof. Typecasting was a real problem for ‘90s music video actors.


Björk “Human Behaviour”

Directed by Michel Gondry, this video featured a murderous Build-a-Bear that ended the life of a hunter just after consuming Björk herself. There were also a bunch of pupa Björks for some reason. It really showcased a more weird side to Björk, which she rarely displays publicly.


Snoop Dogg “Gin and Juice”

This one is just about having fun with a close group of 200 friends at your house party while the lame adults are away. And hey, Dr. Dre shows up two-thirds of the way through with booze and condoms. A true friend. In the ‘90s, you never knew when Dre was going to make an appearance in a video, like that time he surprised us all in that Lisa Loeb one.


Blind Melon “No Rain”

Lead singer Shannon Hoon sadly died far too early in his life, but his legacy lives on in the form of a 10-year-old girl dressed up as a bee. This music video also had a clear message: If you’re having trouble fitting in with the world because you want to wear a bumblebee costume in public, just find a random field of other people also dressed up as bumblebees and everything will be alright.


Busta Rhymes “Gimme Some More”

Director Hype Williams really knew the key to making a music video: Fisheye lens. And a lot of it. Not only does it look cool as hell, but it somehow draws you into a music video. In “Gimme Some More” it almost felt like Busta was rapping to you personally, which is exactly what you need to try to keep up with his nuclear rap speed.


Green Day “Basket Case”

This video was filmed in black and white, and color was added later. That’s why it looks so bright. It evidently makes several references to the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Personally, I don’t remember the part of the movie where a band plays in front of a bunch of mental institution patients. Maybe it’s a deleted scene.


Soundgarden “Black Hole Sun”

Soundgarden was definitely trying to make a statement with this music video. It’s just unclear what that was supposed to be. Maybe something about the suburbs. Or maybe the people that were sucked into the sky were meant to be symbolic. Who knows. Either way, I think we can all agree the sunbathing woman with the reptilian tongue was pretty badass.


Green Jelly “Three Little Pigs”

This was probably the best fable-based song of the ’90s. The video featured stop-motion clay animation too. That shit rules. It was surprisingly pretty rare for a music video to use this style of animation. Tool did a bunch of them, but they were all creepy. And none of theirs were derived from nursery rhymes. Missed opportunity, Maynard James Keenan.


Tupac Shakur “California Love”

I think this is the video that inspired “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015). It’s sick as hell too. Never been to California but the way the state is portrayed in this one makes me wonder if it’s all just sand and steampunk outfits. And would you look at that, Dr. Dre is in this one too. That guy’s everywhere.


Radiohead “Karma Police”

Hard to pick one great Radiohead video from this decade, but we’re going with this one. It featured a mysterious car with Thom Yorke riding in the backseat while chasing a man down a street before the guy lights the vehicle on fire. It begs the question: Was Thom the karma police? Was the man? What is a karma police?!


Reel Big Fish “Sell Out”

While other videos just showed bands playing their instruments under cool lighting, this one also did that but included a distinct narrative warning us about the dangers of making a lot of money from your art. The message was surprisingly effective because no one tried selling out for a few years after that.