The Greatest Rock Videos of All Time

March 29, 2019By

The genre of the music video is best defined by the Rock Music Video, and when MTV first hit our screens it was full of synthesizers and guitars. The early videos were just a collection of bands playing live, but there became a requirement to stand out from the crowd and so many rock bands decided to embrace new technologies in film making to make their records sell. We celebrate the birth of rock music in video by looking at the most influential rock videos of all time.

Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel

In 1986 Peter Gabriel changed rock videos forever when he released Sledgehammer. If nothing else this video certainly captured the imagination, with numerous close-ups of the singer’s face invading his privacy. Then the video lurches into a weird claymation animation, that has virtually never been seen since. If you were reminded of Wallace & Gromit watching this video then it is hardly surprising as it was created by Aardman Animations who were the people behind the famous cheese-loving man and dog.

Money for Nothing – Dire Straits

The success of the Dire Straits song, Money for Nothing was largely attributed to the incredible video that accompanied the recording. It was the very first video to feature human charters that were computer animated. Nothing in 1985 looked anything like this video and it was futuristic in the extreme, a splendid accompaniment to the great guitar licks by Mark Knopfler.

Don’t Come Around Here No More – Tom Petty

Tom Petty was known for his highly creative videos, and Don’t Come Around Here No More took the viewer into a magical world of Alice in Wonderland. The main characters were the Mad Hatter (Tom Petty) and the curious sitar playing Caterpillar (Dave Stewart). It was one of the few Petty videos that veered off into story-land rather than a normal straightforward performance.

I Love Rock & Roll – Joan Jett

I Love Rock & Roll was released back in 1982 and catapulted Joan Jett and her band The Blackhearts to success. Unlike our other featured videos there is no concept to the film, but it makes our list of the Greatest Rock Videos of All Time by showing just how gritty the artist was when playing live.

Up to this video, female artists were portrayed as sort of just eye-candy and not as serious rock performers. This video broke the mold and people’s attitudes towards female rock bands. The song is brash and loud, with gritty guitar performances and driving drums, the fact that it is shot in monochrome highlights the music and not the film.

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

This video challenged concepts of what a rock music video was all about. The stripped down basic format of the film ended the 80s decade of decadence and excess. It brought a much more realistic approach to music videos that also defied convention and what had gone on before.

The band’s identities are fairly obscured as the film concentrates on a school gym filled with cheerleaders in a scene that degrades into chaos. These great rock videos helped define popular music during the 80s & 90s and basically opened the path to what rock music videos are all about today.    

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