A music video or video clip is a short film meant to present a visual representation of a popular music song. The TV station MTV ("Music Television" launched in 1981), originated the format of end-to-end music video programming without any conventional programs.

Sergei Eisenstein's 1938 film Alexander Nevsky, which features extended scenes of battles choreographed to a score by Sergei Prokofiev, set new standards for the use of music in film and has been described by some as the first music video.

Another early form of music videos were called Soundies and were made in the 1940s for the Panoram visual jukebox. These were short films of musical selections, usually just a band on a movie-set bandstand, made for playing. Thousands of Soundies were made, mostly of jazz musicians, but also torch singers, comedians, and dancers.

Before the Soundie, even dramatic movies typically had a musical interval, but the Soundie made the music the star and virtually all the name jazz performers appeared in Soundie shorts, many still available on compilation video tapes or DVDs.

The Panoram jukebox with eight three-minute Soundies were popular in taverns and night spots, but the fad faded during World War II.

In 1940, Walt Disney released Fantasia, an animated film based around famous pieces of classical music.

The very first short musical films made specifically for television, however, were the Snader Telescriptions, more than 1000 short musical presentations filmed for use a television filler between 1950 and 1954. The Snader Telescriptions covered the entire musical landscape. Although most of them were of conventional pop performers, there were many rhythm and blues, jazz, and country music performers. Over the years, the Telescriptions have been re-released many times as compilations, such as Showtime at the Apollo.

In the 1960s, French technology developed for the aerial photography during the war was adapted to create the Scopitone, a modern visual jukebox. The Scopitone was a hit in France with fairly primitive scenes of bands playing, but when it was introduced into the US, the videos took on a vivid quality, with crooners wandering through crowds of girls in bikinis or "jungle" furs. The Scopitone also was a hit, but involvement of organized crime led to its demise, just as rock and roll was being revitalized, too late for Scopitone.

The history of the modern music video has its roots in the early 1960s with The Beatles first major motion picture, A Hard Day's Night in 1964, which included musical segments that resemble today's music videos. That same year, the band began filming short promotional films for their songs which were then aired on television variety shows. By the time the band stopped touring in 1966, they used the promotional films to tour for them. Soon it was common place for artists to do this, and bands like The Byrds and The Beach Boys were also filming promotional films.

The first music videos of the modern era were produced by ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith who started making short musical films for Saturday Night Live in 1979. In 1981, he released Elephant Parts, the first video album and first winner of a Grammy for music video. A further experiment on NBC television called Television Parts was not successful, due to network meddling (notably an intrusive laugh track and corny gags).

During the 1980s promotional videos became pretty much de rigueur for most recording artists, a rise which was famously parodied by UK BBC television comedy program Not The Nine O'Clock News who produced a spoof music video; Nice Video, Shame About The Song.

In the information technology era, they are now just as popular as songs themselves, being sold in collections on video tape and DVD.

Table of contents
1 Notable/influential music videos

Notable/influential music videos

This list concentrates on music videos that were significant in some way in themselves - it is not a list of the most significant music (though some of the songs undoubtedly were very influential).





  • "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana (launched grunge music, ended glam metal)
  • "Buddy Holly" by Weezer (extremely popular, included the band members spliced into old TV footage of Happy Days)
  • "Black or White" by Michael Jackson (innovative use of morphing technology)
  • "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails (uncensored version rarly aired on MTV, contains nudity, graphic imagery, and sacriligious content)
  • "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam (only video ever released by Pearl Jam, controversial at the time of its release)
  • "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" by D'Angelo (uniquely simple for its time; consisted entirely of the singer, naked and singing)
  • "What I Got" by Sublime (breakout success occurring only a few weeks after the death of singer Bradley Nowell, one of the longest-lasting videos on various countdowns in history)
  • "Gin and Juice" by Snoop Dogg
  • "Tonight, Tonight" by Smashing Pumpkins (an homage to silent science fiction films)
  • "Smack My Bitch Up" by The Prodigy (released into extremely limited play by MTV because it featured graphic violence and female nudity)


  • "The Real Slim Shady" by Eminem (lampooned various aspects of pop culture and helped propel the rapper's career)
  • "Fell In Love With a Girl" by The White Stripes (featured Claymation-style animation composed of Lego building blocks)
  • "Star Guitar" by Chemical Brothers (Used a huge amount of digital editing to create a squence of landscape passing by as viewed from a train that synchronized with the beat of the music)