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17 Best 80’s Music Videos

best 80s music videos two women dressed in neon
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The 80s was an excellent time for music videos. It was a new era of innovation and creativity. If you think back to the 80’s, you can probably name at least one life-changing music video experience. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the best 80’s music videos, you’re in the right place. Get comfortable as we dive into 17 of the top music videos from a music period gone by.

1. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson

First up in our list of the best 80’s music videos is the iconic “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. Jackson’s horror movie-esque music video changed his look through incredible makeup, dancing, and special effects.

Related: How Did Michael Jackson Die?

2. “Money For Nothing” – Dire Straits

The technology in this excellent music video from the 80s might be outdated, but the effort the Dire Straits put into their work is fantastic. The strange animations in their music video were actually a large part of what led them to fame.

Related: 30 Best 70s Songs

3. “Boys of Summer” – Don Henley

“Boys of Summer” by Don Henley is a masterpiece because it takes after the French New Wave, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. It displays the main character in three points of life in black and white, then shifting to the modern day. It was a unique idea and continues to astonish today. 

Related: 10 Best Eagles Songs

4. “Take Me Home” – Phil Collins

“Take Me Home” is one of the more simple 80’s music videos, but that’s the point – it drives home the core, upbeat tone of the song without too much effort on you as the viewer. In the music video, Phil Collins sings various lines of the song in differing locations. It’s simple but fantastic in design.

5. “Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel

“Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel stood out as one of the best 80’s music videos because of the unique animation and Pee-Wee Herman influences. Also – the innuendo at the beginning can’t be missed. 

6. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

Girls just want to have fun, which Cyndi Lauper makes a statement in her 80’s music videos, often with wrestling themes. Her goal was to create an empowering video for women, which she succeeded at handily with her colorful creation that is still watched by fans today. 

Related: 22 Celebrities Who Went Bankrupt

7. “Running Up That Hill” – Kate Bush

Kate Bush recently had a resurgence, so who could forget one of her prominent music videos from the ’80s, her “Running Up That Hill.” This emotional ballad comes to life in her music video as an otherworldly and ethereal experience with interpretive dance and Japanese hakama

8. “When Doves Cry” – Prince

Prince is the only artist on this list to have his songs appear twice. “When Doves Cry” was directed by Prince, meaning it was a very personal work to him. It capitalizes on his brilliant seductiveness by using scenes from Purple Rain.

Related: How Did Prince Die?

9. “Physical” – Olivia Newton-John

The tune of “Physical” sounds innocent enough, but the image choices are why it’s one of the best 80’s music videos of all time. Exercise innuendos are taken to the next level by Olivia Newton-John in this music video, which was probably one of the reasons it was so famous!

10. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police

“Every Breath You Take” is a moody song, and the Police capture that perfectly with a black and white music video. Sting also has a serious look, which only assists with the tone of this terrifying love song.

11. “Walk This Way” – Run-DMC and Aerosmith 

This music video was astounding in that it finally provided hip-hop a place to grab a foothold in the mainstream music world. Rock and rap meet explosively in the “Walk This Way” 80’s music video.

12. “Land of Confusion” – Genesis

When you think of 80’s puppets, you think of “Land of Confusion” by Genesis, one of the best 80’s music videos. The art piece shows a bit of Cold War history while bringing look-alike puppets to life.

Related: 25 Songs That Make You Smarter

13. “Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran

“Hungry Like the Wolf” is one of the best 80’s music videos for its unique adventurous qualities, placing the lead singer of Duran Duran in a high-budget environment (Sri Lanka) tracking a tiger. It’s very cinematic and holds some sultry qualities that made it a hit among audiences. 

14. “Raspberry Beret” – Prince

“Raspberry Beret” is one of the catchiest songs of all time, so it makes sense that it would be one of the best 80’s music videos. Prince uses various animations to bring him and the band to life, directed for the most part by Prince himself.

15. “Once in a Lifetime” – Talking Heads

The Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime” is clearly one of the best 80’s music videos of all time. There’s a strange green screen in the background, which clashes with the strange lyrics and contortions of singer David Byrne. Split-screen and visual effects helped display new digital technology while pushing Talking Heads into the public eye.

16. “Rhythm Nation” – Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” is one of the best 80’s music videos because it caught its audience totally off-guard when released. This dystopian video depicts a future dance world with Jackson at the helm, filled with incredible choreography and fashion that stunned viewers.

17. “Take On Me” – a-ha

Of course, the vocals are one part of what makes “Take On Me” one of the best music videos from the 80s. However, it wouldn’t be the same without the iconic paper-like animation depicted in the video. Reportedly, more than 3,000 sketches were made for the video.

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Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


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