MTV: Thank you for the music ...

Pioneering pop video director Kevin Godley chooses his 10 favourite promos of the past 30 years
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The Independent Culture


Talking Heads, Once in a lifetime

David Byrne is mesmerising when standing still. David Byrne sweating, twitching and falling apart added a timely dash of dork psychosis to the medium. Sums up everything good about the early days of MTV.


Herbie Hancock, Rockit

Black artist cleans up at MTV awards. Before this, MTV was white, white, white. The brand changed overnight, and it didn't do Godley & Creme, who directed the video, any harm either.


Grace Jones, Slave to the rhythm

Rich and hugely inventive piece by French visionary Jean-Paul Goude. Very Eighties, but still stands up magnificently.


Peter Gabriel, Sledgehammer

Era-defining bravura piece of stop-frame animation. It took forever to shoot and brought art to the MTV masses, making the whole world fall in love with Peter.


Elvis Costello, I wanna be loved

You don't associate Elvis with videos, but this was a classic one-shot film. A big influence on the "Numb" and "Sweetest Thing" clips I shot for U2.


Red Hot Chili Peppers, Give it away

Sheer adrenalin. It looks as though they hit the desert with a bag of pharmaceuticals, a tin of silver paint, some horns and sequins, and made it up on the spot.


Fiona Apple, Across the universe

Nineteen-fifties redneck youths take pleasure in destroying a retro soda shop as Fiona sings amid the mayhem. Is she really there, or does she/we only imagine she is? She rotates 360 degrees, too. Maybe the shop was experimenting with integration.


Radiohead, No surprises

Question: How does he hold his breath for so long? Answer: Double speed the track so the gap lasts half as long. Brave in every way.


Missy Elliott, Work it

From a time when hip-hop videos had real flair and imagination. Discuss ...


Gavin Friday, Able

Amazing what you can achieve with a few lights, six elastic bands and Gavin Friday.

The 10 best music videos

Michael Jackson, Thriller, 1983

"At over 14 minutes long, it's impossible to overlook the impact this video had. Guinness World Records says it as the most successful music video of all time." PB

a-ha, Take on Me, 1984

"Animation, a plot and a genuine moment of shock – this 1984 video has the lot." BC

Sinead O'Connor, Nothing Compares 2 U, 1990

"The video is simplicity itself: a close up of O'Connor's face as she sings the song, with the culmination of those two tears. Proof that less can be more." BC

Massive Attack, Unfinished Sympathy, 1991

"This was the original walking-and-singing video. A single Steadicam follows Shara Nelson along several blocks in Los Angeles. Beautifully simple." SP

The Beastie Boys, Sabotage, 1994

"Spike Jonze's clip featured the Beasties, wearing wigs and moustaches, as the stars of a fictional 1970s cop show. Mid-1990s retromania at its peak." SP

Daft Punk , Around the World, 1997

"This clip from Michel Gondry gets to the heart of the song, with each character representing the music in a manner that is both beautiful and ingenious." BC

Aphex Twin, Come to Daddy, 1997

"An old lady is terrorised by children wearing the face of Richard 'Aphex Twin' James. Very unsettling." SP

Björk, All Is Full of Love, 1999

"Two robot Björks meet on a gleaming white set in what is an oddly moving music video." BC

The White Stripes, Fell in Love with a Girl, 2002

"A 'live' video with a difference: Jack and Meg White are represented by Lego figures." SP

Johnny Cash, Hurt, 2003

"Filmed seven months before his death, a frail Man in Black sits in the wreckage of his House of Cash museum. Enough to reduce grown men to tears." SP

Simon Price, Paul Bignell and Ben Cardew

The 10 worst music videos

Dire Straits, Romeo and Juliet, 1981

"There's no excuse for producing this soporific snore-fest." PB

Olivia Newton-John, Physical, 1981

"Twenty seconds in you've seen enough." PB

Survivor, Eye of the Tiger, 1982

"The band walk down a street, into a rehearsal room and then ... play their hit song. Impressive? Not a tiger to be seen." PB

David Bowie & Mick Jagger, Dancing in the Street, 1985

"The video is enough to bring on physical sickness, as our two heroes betray everything that ever made them cool." BC

Neneh Cherry, Buffalo Stance, 1988

"Neneh Cherry keeps remarkably calm as the acid trip behind her goes horribly wrong." PB

Guns N' Roses, November Rain, 1992

"A video as overblown as this was needed to do the song justice. Cue Stephanie Seymour in a wedding dress. Cue 1,000 extras. Cue $1.5m budget. Cue lack of irony." PB

Michael Jackson, Scream, 1995

"Dull, pointless and incredibly underwhelming." BC

David Hasselhoff, Hooked on a Feeling, 1997

"The video is as naff as you'd expect from the only man ever to be out-acted by a talking car." PB

Britney Spears, Gimmie More, 2007

"Britney prances round a pole in a seedy strip club in a black wig, and that's it." PB

Lady Gaga, Telephone, 2010

"Either genius or nonsensical mess." PB