The Most Expensive Music Videos Of All Time
The roots of the modern-day music video harken back to the 1960s when artists discovered that filmed performances were an inexpensive way to appear on television without having to pay for travel expenses. Music videos did not come into prominence though until 1981 when MTV first aired. Soon after music videos became a significant element in the music industry.
Some acts made videos because it was expected and others tried to create real art. Here are some of the most expensive music videos of all time. (Note: adjusted cost appears in parentheses.)
This is a nine-minute and 23-second music video was made by Guns N’ Roses in 1993. The cost of the video was $5 million ($ 6,937,572 ). The music video includes live scenes filmed at Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany. The song is a popular power ballad that focuses on separation. It is the rock band’s second-longest song overall and the longest track on their fourth release “Use Your Illusion II.”
5. “Black and White”
This 11-minute music video is by the late King of Pop music Michael Jackson and was produced in 1991. At the time, it was the most expensive music video ever made. The cost of the video was 4 million dollars ($7,357,928).
The music video, based on the premiere single from Jackson’s eighth album “Dangerous,” debuted in 27 countries simultaneously on BET, MTV, and VH1 to an international audience of 500 million viewers. The song focused on the subject of modern racism. It rose to number one in three weeks making it the quickest song to top the charts since 1969 when The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ hit climbed to the top.
4. “Bedtime Story”
This is the first of three Madonna music videos on our list and was launched in 1995. It was directed by Mark Romanek who went on to direct the current top video. The cost of the music video was 5 million dollars ($8,221,227).
This 1994 song is actually the third single off her sixth platter “Bedtime Stories.” Even though the track itself was not exactly one of her really big hits, this pricey surrealistic music video is still currently shown at the popular Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York. The early success of Madonna and these other artists clearly note how the relationship between video and music, and to a lesser extent even music for videos grew in influence, impact, and significance.
3. “Express Yourself”
This Madonna music video was released in 1989. Directed by David Fincher of “Fight Club” fame, it was inspired by the 1927 German movie “Metropolis.” The price tag for this video was 5 million dollars ($10,106,040).
The song is the sophomore single from Madonna’s fourth LP “Like a Prayer.” The music video garnered the Billboard award for the Best Music Video of 1989. It also scored a trio of MTV Music Video honors including Best Cinematography and Best Direction.
2. “Die Another Day”
This Madonna music video was released in 2002. The track is the official theme song of the 20th James Bond (007) motion picture on the film franchise’s official 40th anniversary year. The price tag for this Bond-inspired music video was 6.1 million dollars ($8,497,114). Written specifically for the movie, the tune went on to become the official best-selling dance cut for two consecutive years (2002 and 2003).
This music video is also by the late Michael Jackson and was produced in 1995. It features a duet by Michael and his younger sister performer Janet Jackson. The total cost of this most expensive video was 7 million dollars ($ 11,509,718).
As this goes to press, this music video, directed by Mark Romane, has reigned for over two decades as the official most expensive of all time. It is also the first and only time that Michael Jackson ever used the word “f*ck” in his song lyrics. Note the line: ”Stop pressuring me/Stop fucking with me.”
The song was Michael’s aggressive response to the tabloid media concerning their relentless coverage of the multiple sexual abuse accusations made against him in 1993. It was also the debut single from Jackson’s ninth release “HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I.” The video first aired on “Primetime Live” where it was seen by more than 64 million people and won a Grammy for Best Music Video. It also appears on the 2017 compilation album of the same name.
As you can see, the relationship between music and video has changed a lot over the decades. Today performers spend a previously unheard of amount of money on them too. Are the videos worth all that money and the impact video s have had on the music industry? You tell us!
Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.