Combined the top ten most expensive music videos add up to a cost exceeding $30 million. Some of the videos on the list are more expensive than full-feature films. Also interestingly enough, many of the same artists appear over and over again on this list. Perhaps, this is a testament to their success. Here are the top ten most expensive music videos on all time:
Celine Dion – “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”
Cost: $2.3 million
“It’s All coming Back to Me Now” was released by Celine Dion back in 1996. The music video was directed by Nigel Dick and was shot between June 29 and July 3, 1996 in the summer palace of Austrian Emperor, Ploskovice. Two separate versions of the music video were made. One is just under eight minutes and the other is about six minutes. Both of the videos were including in Dion’s 2001 DVD video collection All the Way… A Decade of Song & Video. The moving video opens with a man dying in a horrible explosive motorcycle crash after a bolt of lightning strikes down a tree in his path. Dion’s character in the film is haunted by her lover’s image who she sees through a mirror along with images of them together through picture frames.
Busta Rhymes featuring Janet Jackson – “What’s It Gonna Be?”
Cost: $2.4 million
When released in 1999 the song “What’s it Gonna Be?” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #3. The music video was directed by Hype Williams on March 12, 1999 and is one of the most expensive music videos of all time. The entire video is chalked full of sexual innuendo and was considered to be very controversial at the time. The high cost of the video is a result of the special effects used in the video and was cutting edge in the late 90’s.
Mariah Carey featuring Jay-Z – “Heartbreaker”
Cost: $2.5 million
The music video for “Heartbreaker” was directed by Brett Ratner during September 1998. Carey has stated the goal for the video was to mirror the lyrical content of the song and to show it from a female perspective. The film was filmed in a comedic fashion with the goal of remaining both “fun and exciting.” Due to its strong message and female empowering energy, it is still considered one of Carey’s best songs and videos. Surprisingly, due to a contractual obligation, Jay-Z was not able to physically appear in the video. Instead, during the part of the song he raps in, he was animated.
MC Hammer – “Too Legit to Quit”
Cost: $2.5 million
When released in 1991, both the song and the video “Too Legit to Quit” became a worldwide sensation. The hand motions used in the video have perhaps become as popular as the video itself. A number of celebrities appeared in the video including the late James Brown and a Michael Jackson impersonator.
Puff Daddy featuring The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes – “Victory”
Cost: $2.7 million
Released in March of 1998, the music video for “Victory” pays homage to The Running Man. The almost eight minute long video features a number of cameos including from Dennis Hopper, Danny DeVito, and Tamara Beckwith. The video is supposed to take place in the year 3002 AD and features Comb’s character running through dark streets chased by armed gestapo-esque forces of Chase TV. In the video footage from Biggie’s “One More Chance” video was used in “ghost” images representing a flashback for Comb’s character. Busta Rhymes is dressed in all black feathers and stands atop a statue representing Victoria, the goddess of victory. Interestingly enough Biggie didn’t have any live footage in the video due to his death the year earlier.
Guns N’ Roses – “Estranged”
Cost: $4 million
Released in December 1993, the music video for “Estranged” is the fifth most expensive music video of all time. The almost ten-minute long video for “Estranged” is similar in style to the two previous videos in the trilogy. Parts of the music video were filmed at the Olympic Stadium in Munich and shows views of Olympic Park where the summer games of 1972 toook place.
Michael Jackson – “Black or White”
Cost: $4 million
“Black or White” was first broadcast on MTV on November 14, 1991. It premiered simultaneously in 27 countries to an audience exceeding 500 million viewers, making it the most watched television premiere of a music video of all time. The video itself was directed by John Landis who had also directed the famous thriller music video.
Madonna – “Express Yourself”
Cost: $5 million
Originally released in 1989 “Express Yourself” by Madonna was the most expensive music video in the world until it was surpassed in 1995. The video was consider very revolutionary in several regards. In the video, Madonna plays a glamorous lady and a chained masochist, surrounded by muscular men as her workers. At the end of the movie she picks one of them as her date. The video is noted for its exploitation of female sexuality and its gender-bending themes.
Madonna – “Die Another Day”
Cost: $6 million
Madonna is the creator of both the 3rd and 2nd most expensive music video of all tine. The song “Die Another Day” is the official theme song of the James Bond film of the same name. The single was originally released in late 2002 on the 20th anniversary of her first album release. The music video itself was director by Traktor, a Swedish directing team known for making TV advertisements. The video makes several references to other James Bond films throughout history.
Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson – “Scream”
Cost: $7 million
When it was released in 1995, “Scream” by Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson was the most expensive music video ever created and remains so until this day. The song itself is cited as an aggressive and retaliatory song directed at the tabloid media and the paparazzi for their child sexual abuse accusations made against Michael Jackson in 1993. In 1995 the video gained 11 MTV Video Music Award Nominations, more than any other video that year and won the award for “Best Dance Video”, “Best Choreography”, and “Best Art Direction”. The following year the video also won a Grammy for Best Music Video. VH1 rated “Scream” as the 9th best music video of all time on their list of 100 greatest music videos.
Featured Image: Flickr by Kim Erlandsen