TOP 5 Favourite 80s Music Videos

by Mark Nobes, chief editor

Trying to list just five of my favourite videos from the 1980s was always going to be a challenge, and I could think of dozens that deserve to be here. I've decided to narrow down the choices down to the following five artists. Please enjoy!

5. Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper

This song actually came out of the 1970s, with the original version being recorded by Robert Hazard in 1979. However, it's Cyndi Lauper's version that became a worldwide hit during 1983. While only costing around $35,000 to make, the quirky video was created using state-of-the-art equipment which was loaned out for free by Lorne Michaels. The spherical video effects (about a minute and a half into the video) were pretty radical at the time. The video was filmed in the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the summer of 1983. The fact that the video has received over 959 million views on Youtube speaks volumes.

Cyndi Lauper Girls Just Want To Have Fun

4. Rio by Duran Duran

While it may not be anything special to look at these days, this is an iconic video that defines the 80s. An expensive yacht called Eilean, upon which a new wave boy band called Duran Duran (who are wearing expensive Antony Price silk suits) sailed the seas around Antigua, symbolised the excess and glamour associated with the decade. With the launch of MTV on August 1st 1981, pop bands and their record labels were keen to take advantage of the video revolution, competing with each other to create the most lavish and expensive videos they could possibly afford.

Duran Duran Rio Video Screenshot

3. Money For Nothing by Dire Straits

There were a lot of awesome videos being released in 1985, and "Money For Nothing" used computer-animated human characters which, given the limited power of computers back then, were pretty unique and cutting edge. It was a time when the 16 bit home computers such as the Atari ST were only just being launched, and we had all grown used to the blocky 8-bit graphics on the Commodore 64 and ZX SpectrumIt's quite amusing that it's now considered cool to produce a video game that looks like it was produced in the 80s, whereas back then, we were glad to see the back of the 8-bit era!

It's ironic that Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler hated music videos, and thought they "destroyed the purity of the music". There's no doubt that the heavy rotation on MTV helped to give the band their biggest ever hit, The graphics were created on a Bosch-4000 CGI system and a Quantox Paintbox computer graphics workstation.

Of course, the song also featured one of the best intros to come out of the 80s, and I well remember it giving me goosebumps at the time.

Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" video screenshot

2. Take On Me by a-ha

Just about everyone remembers this video by a-ha, and I remember this was a groundbreaking video back in the mid-eighties - how could you not feature this one! The song is one of the finest Norweigan 80s synthpop tunes ever released. Actually, I can't actually think of any other Norweigan synthpop bands apart from Royksopp, and they weren't around in the 80s. But seriously, it's a great pop song, although one could argue that it's the iconic video that made it so memorable. The romantic fantasy pencil sketch animation (called rotoscoping, I believe - I'm such a nerd!) combined with live action was pretty marvellous to watch back then. The video won six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Awards, too.

a-ha Take On Me Video Screenshot

1. Thriller by Michael Jackson

Could I really choose anything else for the No.1 spot? I think not! This was the longest pop video I'd ever seen back in 1983. It was a 13 minute epic that had its first airing on Channel 4 in the UK, and just about teenager was watching. The scary mini movie was incredibly influential and merged film making with music for the first time. I remember when Michael Jackson and the dancers around him turned into zombies, I was actually pretty scared - those effects are pretty freaky. Of course, no one was going to admit to being freaked out by it, and there was a fine display of bravado amongst the lads at school the next day.

Another strong talking point was the incredible dance routine. Never before had we witnessed a group of dancing zombies! The video cost half a million dollars to make and was the most expensive video ever at the time. It went on to sell over 9 million copies.

Michael Jackson Thriller Video Screenshot

I hope you have enjoyed my countdown of our favourite videos from the 1980s. I notice there are often negative comments from people on these videos at Youtube from people who didn't live through the decade. You really had to be there to understand how iconic these videos were back then. A lot of time and effort was put into making them, and they thoroughly deserve their place our Top 5.

You can see an A-Z of 80s music videos on this site.

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