Music videos have been a significant part of the music industry for the last three decades since MTV first went on the air in 1981. The value of music videos is highlighted in awards given to honor the various aspects of video creation and development, with the most famous being the MTV Video Music Awards. Some artists, though, have gone over the top throughout the years by spending crazy amounts of money on video production, in some cases for songs that we can’t even remember. Would you like to read about 25 examples of artists who spent some major dough on their videos? Well, then you’re in for a treat, cause here are the 25 Most Expensive Music Videos In History.
“The Wild Boys” by Duran Duran
“The Wild Boys” is the twelfth single by Duran Duran, released in October 1984. The video was directed by Russell Mulcahy for $1.1 million.
“Stronger” by Kanye West
“Stronger” is a song by hip-hop recording artist Kanye West, released as the second single from his third studio album, Graduation, in 2007. The video was directed by Hype Williams for $1.2 million.
“Here Comes the Hammer” by MC Hammer
“Here Comes the Hammer” was the first single off MC Hammer’s Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em, which was released in 1990. It was directed by Hammer himself for $1.3 million.
“Give Me All Your Luvin’ ” by Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.
“Give Me All Your Luvin’“ is a song by Madonna from her twelfth studio album, MDNA (2012). It features guest vocals by rappers Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. and was directed by Megaforce for $1.5 million.
“Girlfriend/Boyfriend” by Blackstreet featuring Janet Jackson
“Girlfriend/Boyfriend” is a song by R&B group Blackstreet. It was released in May 1999 as the second and final single from their third album, Finally. Janet Jackson is also featured on the song as well as rappers Eve and Ja Rule. The video was directed by Joseph Kahn for $1.5 million.
“November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses
“November Rain” is a power ballad by the legendary rock band Guns N’ Roses. Written by the band’s lead singer Axl Rose, the song was released as a single in 1992 from their third studio album, Use Your Illusion I (1991). It was directed by Andy Morahan for $1.5 million, and the song peaked at number three in the United States, making it the longest song in history to enter the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100.
“Unpretty” by TLC
“Unpretty” is a song by TLC that was released in 1999. The song was based on a poem of the same name written by Watkins, which dealt with a woman’s struggle with her self-image and unrealistic concepts of beauty in the media. The music video was directed by Paul Hunter for $1.6 million.
“My Name’s Women” by Ayumi Hamasaki
She might be unknown to most of us in the West but Ayumi Hamasaki is a giga-star and a pop goddess in Japan where she’s one of the biggest-selling music stars. Her music video “My Name’s Women” directed by Wataru Takeishi cost nearly $2 million.
“Freeek!” by George Michael
“Freeek!” was released on March 18, 2002, and became the first of six singles to come from Patience, although the album was not released until 2004. The single was written and performed by pop legend George Michael and the video was directed by Joseph Kahn for $2 million.
“She’s a Bitch” by Missy Elliott
“She’s a Bitch” is a song recorded by rap diva Missy Elliott for her second album, Da Real World, which was released in 1999. The music video was produced by Timbaland and despite costing $2 million it peaked only at number ninety on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and was considered a huge failure.
“Fairyland” by Ayumi Hamasaki
“Fairyland” is the thirty-sixth single released by Ayumi Hamasaki. It was released on August 3, 2005, a few months after “My Name’s Women” to break the record as the most expensive music video in Asia. It instantly shot to number one on the Oricon charts (Japanese music charts) and was directed by Wataru Takeishi for a little over $2 million.
If you find these expensive music videos fascinating, you may also enjoy the 25 Most Popular Songs For The Millennial Generation.
“Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson
“Remember the Time” is a single by the king of pop Michael Jackson. The music video was released by Epic Records on January 14, 1992, as the second single from Jackson’s best-selling album, Dangerous. The video was directed by John Singleton for over $2 million and featured many celebrities such as Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, and Iman.
“Larger Than Life” by the Backstreet Boys
“Larger Than Life” is a song by the biggest-selling boy band in history, the Backstreet Boys and was released as the second single from their third studio album, Millennium (1999). Its music video, directed by Joseph Kahn, holds a Guinness World Record for the thirteenth most expensive music video ever made with estimated production costs of over $2.1 million. It also broke the record for longest-running number one video on MTV’s Total Request Live.
“Bad” by Michael Jackson
“Bad” was released by Epic Records in September 1987, as the second single from Michael Jackson’s album of the same name. The song was written, composed, and coproduced by the King of Pop, and produced by Quincy Jones. The music video was directed by the Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese for $2.2 million.
“It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” by Celine Dion
Nigel Dick is the man behind the camera of this beautiful music video, with Simon Archer as cinematographer and Jaromir Svarc as art director. It was shot between June 29 and July 3, 1996, in the summer palace of the Austrian emperor Ploskovice and in Barandov Studios, in Prague, Czech Republic. It was released in July and is estimated to have cost about $2.3 million.
“What’s It Gonna Be!?” by Busta Rhymes featuring Janet Jackson
“What’s It Gonna Be?!” is a song by rapper Busta Rhymes, with guest vocals by Janet Jackson. Its music video was directed by Hype Williams and became famous for its special effects, becoming one of the most expensive music videos of all time. After it was released in March 1999 it was reported to have cost about $2.4 million to make.
“Heartbreaker” by Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” was released on September 21, 1999, by Columbia Records as the lead single from her seventh studio album, Rainbow. The song’s video, directed by Brett Ratner, is one of the most expensive ever made, costing over $2.5 million.
“2 Legit 2 Quit” by MC Hammer
“2 Legit 2 Quit” is a song by rap artist MC Hammer released in 1991 as both the title track and first single of his third studio album, Too Legit to Quit. Directed by Rupert Wainwright for $2.5 million, the video begins with an impatient crowd waiting for Hammer to perform, while he has a lengthy conversation with James Brown, who calls Hammer “Godson” and enlists him to get Michael Jackson’s glove. Simply put: Epic!
“Victory” by Puff Daddy featuring Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes
The almost eight-minute-long video was directed by Marcus Nispel for $2.7 million and was released in 1998. It featured cameos by Dennis Hopper as a New World Order dictator (“President Victor Castiglione”) and Danny DeVito as a live-action reporter. Tamara Beckwith was also in the video. Hopper and DeVito reportedly appeared in the video pro bono as a favor to Combs.
“Estranged” by Guns N’ Roses
“Estranged” is a power ballad and music video by Guns N’ Roses and their second entry on this list. It is from the second part of their two-part album, Use Your Illusion II. It was directed by Andy Morahan for $4 million and was released in December 1993.
“Black or White” by Michael Jackson
The music video for “Black or White” was first broadcast on MTV, BET, VH1, and Fox on November 14, 1991, and was the first single off Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. Along with Michael, the video featured the boy wonder of that era Macaulay Culkin, Tess Harper, and George Wendt. The video was directed by John Landis, who previously directed Thriller, and cost over $4 million. It premiered simultaneously in twenty-seven countries, with an audience of nearly 500 million, the most ever for any music video.
“Bedtime Story” by Madonna
The video for “Bedtime Story” was directed by Mark Romanek over a course of six days in Universal Studios, in Universal City, California. At a reputed cost of $5 million ($7.74 million in 2015 dollars), it is the fourth most expensive music video of all time, and became the second most expensive of all time when it was released on February 13, 1995, behind another music video of the Queen of Pop.
“Express Yourself” by Madonna
“Express Yourself” was directed by David Fincher and filmed in April 1989, at Culver Studios in Culver City, California. It was inspired by the Fritz Lang classic Metropolis (1927), and featured an epigraph at the end of the video from the film: “Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind.” It had a reported total budget of over $5 million ($9.51 million in 2015 dollars), which made it the most expensive music video ever at the time, and currently the third most expensive of all time.
“Die Another Day” by Madonna
This was the theme song from the James Bond film of the same name. The music video was directed by Traktor, a Swedish directing team known for several TV advertisements. It was released in 2002 and the total production cost for the video was estimated at around $6.1 million ($8 million in 2015 dollars), making it the second most expensive music video ever made.
“Scream” by Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson
Michael Jackson apparently got jealous of Madonna’s dominance in this category and decided to do something that would break all her records. This is how we ended up with 1995’s “Scream,” a collaborative single with his sister Janet Jackson for his History album. The video was shot by Mark Romanek for $7 million, nearly $11 million in 2015 dollars.