The Video Stars: Science Fiction Music Videos
Sci-Fi tends to be a popular genre for music videos, possibly because it’s far easier to draw attention in a short amount of time, focusing on using special effects rather than storyline to convey an idea. I had the most difficult time yet in narrowing these down to only 10. So don’t judge me too much if a favorite isn’t here. Also, don’t expect Thriller or anything else that appears in another list – I’m only considering any music video in one particular category.
10. Can You Feel It – Jackson 5, 1980. Directed by Bruce Gowers and Robert Abel.
I think in the end I couldn’t not add this video, if for no other reason than it gives us historical context for MJ’s relationship to music videos. For 1980, the visuals here are over the top and in our face, setting the standard early for Michael, and giving him a strong sense of relationship between song and video before many others ever did.
9. Home – LCD Soundsystem, 2010. Directed by Rick Darge.
Not so much the effects, but the plot in this one draws me in, as a robot tries to party all night with the local hipsters. I am pleasantly surprised with how easily I sympathize with this wordless and generally unimpressive robot.
8. California Love – 2Pac feat. Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman, 1996. Directed by Hype Williams.
A classic post-apocalyptic America set in 2095, where California
still knows how to party better than anyone. I’m not sure why they bothered to make a second video, but they did, so make sure you click the pic and watch the right one.
7. In This World/In My Heart – Moby, 2002. Directed by Stylewar.
Right up there next to E.T. and Wall-E, these are some of the most loveable aliens on film. Beautiful, emotional, and importantly for this particular top 10 list, Sci-fi.
6. Virtual Insanity – Jamiroquai, 1996. Directed by Jonathan Glazer.
I suppose this is supposed to be on another planet, although this is never explicit. Still, I would love to travel there one day. Jamiroquai put themselves on the pop map with not only this song, but this powerful visual to conect it with.
5. Sock it to Me – Missy Elliott, 1997. Directed by Hype Williams.
Missy is stylistically carving out an entire culture for herself in 1997 with this and Supa Dupa fly (with the help of Hype Williams’ fisheye lens and Timbaland’s beats). Here she takes inspiration the Mega Man music videos and creates some visual fun to go along with her audio good times. On another note, I wonder whatever happened to Da Brat’s helmet… I would look boss in that thing.
4. Rockit – Herbie Hancock, 1983. Directed by Godley & Creme.
A lot is going on, not only in this video, but in music history. Here, Hancock is building a bridge between pop and jazz in an important way, and although it is moving towards the future, it still looks a little raw like the robotics in this vid.
3. Scream – Michael & Janet Jackson, 1995. Directed by Mark Romanek.
When I first heard about this video I was 13 years old, and I remember thinking, “Finally Michael and Janet together”. And to this day when I watch it, although it’s hard not to notice the amount of effort and money that went into this video, what gives it an unmatched charisma is the duo involved. Janet looks as boss as ever, and both of them are bound by both love and anger.
2. Intergallactic – Beastie Boys, 1998. Directed by Nathaniel Hornblower (aka: MCA of the Beastie Boys).
Parodies bode well for these boys, while Sabotage worked off of Crime TV, Intergallactic bows to Japanese monster movies. And what can I say, I am quickly acknowledging my soft spot for a dancing robot.
1. All is Full of Love – Bjork, 1999. Directed by Chris Cunningham.
Slightly eerie, incredibly beautiful, and impossible not to watch. An appropriate video of robotic love to a song composed entirely from “sounds inspired by machines” according to Bjork. With both sound and film, Bjork shows us how sexy machines can be. Who knew?