Do you remember when the singles of your favorite boy bands or singers came out? Did you ever stay up, or get up early to watch the premiere on MTV TRL? Consider yourself a child of the ’80s and ’90s! Kids these days have it so easy because everything is laid out for them on YouTube and it’s all about views and breaking the internet. Despite cryptic messages (we’re looking at you Taylor Swift) and ode to chick flicks, music videos aren’t what they used to be. Of all the expensive videos made in the last couple of decades, the top five are created by two legends: Michael Jackson and Madonna.
The only two would have enough clout to rustle up millions of dollars for a mere four-minute movie. While other musicians generally use music videos as a means of selling more copies of a song or album, these two turned the format of a music video into an art form.
Below are just snippets of what made these most expensive music videos unique and costly. (adjusted for inflation to 2013 dollars)
The single from Michael Jackson’s hugely successful Dangerous album required a video that would be —fun, meaningful, and most importantly, memorable. Not just the most expensive music video, the result ticked all these boxes and more, becoming a cult favorite and controversial at the same time. The 11-minute adventure debuted at the same time on all major music channels (MTV, BET, and VH1), including FOX in 27 countries, with an estimated 500 million people watching at the same time.
The video for Bedtime Story was directed by Mark Romanek, who would also direct the music video that ended up being even more expensive than this. Not one to miss an opportunity for publicity, Madonna premiered the music video at movie theatres in Chicago, New York, and Santa Monica.
While the single got mixed reviews from critics, Madonna’s single for Bond went on to be the number one dance song of 2002 and 2003, and its video received a Grammy nomination.
Her “Express Yourself” video cost $5 million to make in 1989, which made it one of the most expensive music videos ever made at the time. It was inspired by the 1927 German science fiction film Metropolis and was directed by David Fincher.
And the music video to top the list of most expensive music videos of all time is Michael Jackon’s Scream.
Scream was the first single from Michael’s HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I album. It shows siblings Michael and Janet having fun on an elaborately-built spaceship set. The video also shows them being angry about how the media had been portraying during those days. The iconic video got its big premiere on ABC’s “Primetime Live,” as Michael Jackson was being interviewed with new wife, Lisa Marie Presley. An estimated 64 million people watched it from all over the world.