Yesterday, in what was, perhaps, a nod to the ’90s-nostalgia zeitgeist that’s been sweeping the Internet — a phenomenon we at Flavorpill have been heartily on board with — Pitchfork posted a list of the 50 greatest music videos of the decade. Their countdown is packed with great moments, from Daft Punk’s “Around the World” to Blur’s “Coffee + TV” to Snoop’s “Gin & Juice,” we can’t help but point out that many of our favorite touchstones of the era were conspicuously absent. After the jump, watch 20 more videos that we think should have earned a spot on the list.
The Smashing Pumpkins — “Tonight, Tonight” We agree with Pitchfork that “1979” belongs in the canon, but shouldn’t there also be room for “Tonight, Tonight,” a meticulously realized video that matches a soaring love song with visuals inspired by Georges Méliès’ early short film A Trip to the Moon?
Tupac (feat. Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman) – “California Love” Before Lady Gaga’s epic adventures made music video-as-short film de rigeur, Tupac brought us this mini-narrative, which stars George Clinton and evokes both Mad Max and The Warriors. We’re not sure we would have thought to go post-apocalyptic with this party jam, but then, Tupac always was one step ahead…
Madonna – “Vogue” In a strikingly cinematic black-and-white video, Madonna evokes Marilyn Monroe (not for the first time) and practically creates a style manual for old-school Hollywood glamor. This, folks, is how you make a niche dance craze into an international phenomenon.
RuPaul — “Supermodel” You. Better. Work. So said the inimitable Ms. Ru in a campy clip that matches Madge pose for pose without ever losing its hearty sense of humor. Watch this without cracking up — we dare you.
Bone Thugz N Harmony — “Tha Crossroads” Just about inescapable after its 1995 release, “Tha Crossroads” was dedicated to the memory of Eazy-E, begins at an emotional church funeral, is filled with ghosts and death scenes, and features a jarring finale: As the white-clad newly dead trudge up a winding path around a mountain, the angel of death climbs to its peak, a newborn baby in his arms, and spreads his white wings.
The Dandy Warhols — “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” We learned in Ondi Timoner’s riveting doc Dig! that the band wasn’t so fond of how the video turned out, but as young teens in the mid-’90s, we watched this one on MTV with mouths agape. A masterpiece of David LaChappelle’s hyper-colored pop art, “Junkie” is also a tribute to all things retro, featuring cheesy New Wave dancers, a hospital-gurney sequence worthy of Busby Berkeley, and, of course, the infamous dancing syringes.
Blind Melon — “No Rain” The bee girl isn’t just a metaphor for alienation and escape — she’s a full-fledged ’90s icon.
Hole — “Miss World” In a video that explodes about 25 different feminine archetypes in one shot, Courtney Love proved that loud-quiet-loud isn’t just a guy thing. Our favorite detail? The glittering “Cleanliness Is Godliness” sign that serves as the band’s backdrop.
R.E.M. — “Losing My Religion” Come on, now. R.E.M.’s gorgeous video, which touches on all manner of religious mythology and Classical lore may just qualify as a visual poem, so great is the sense of anguish and loss it conveys. The song ain’t bad, either.
Coolio — “Fantastic Voyage” So, it’s not hip to like Coolio anymore — a damn shame, since “Fantastic Voyage” remains a thoroughly enjoyable jam. The video is a beach party fantasy of epic proportions that. Remember when Coolio parks and hundreds of people start getting out of his trunk?
Kristin Hersh (feat. Michael Stipe) — “Your Ghost” If a spooky old house, stark black-and-white cinematography, and a spare, haunting melody, maybe the thrill of seeing Kristin Hersh and Michael Stipe share the screen will.
Jane’s Addiction — “Been Caught Stealing” We’re going to go out on a limb and call “Been Caught Stealing” one the funniest music videos of all time. It begins with Perry Farrell and co. perched atop a line of kiddie rides outside a supermarket, their faces blank as the machines slowly propel the band up and down. Inside the grocery store, the fat-suited shoplifting antics begin. And because this is a Jane’s Addiction video, there is a masked pole dancer in the produce aisle.
Soundgarden — “Black Hole Sun” In the apocalyptic world of “Black Hole Sun,” the colors are nauseatingly bright and mouths stretch into smiles so wide they’re grotesque. It’s the kind of suburban nightmare that could only have risen out of early-’90s angst, complete with barbecued Barbies, an end-times preacher, and a gaping twister sucking the whole mess skyward.
L7 — “Pretend We’re Dead” We’re not saying this video isn’t lo-fi… or dated. But can anyone deny how awesome it is to watch these women rock the eff out?
Salt-n-Pepa (feat. En Vogue) — “Whatta Man” For a while there, every single Salt-n-Pepa video was a home run. But this collaboration with the ladies of En Vogue was the perfect storm of ’90s hip-hop fashion, tight choreography, and good loving. Hands down one of the sexiest videos of all time.
Nada Surf — “Popular” A wry, satirical teen movie in a single music video, “Popular” takes apart the Social Darwinism of high school, complete with a young, randy, Machiavellian teacher and the ruthless cheerleaders he inspires.
TLC — “Baby-Baby-Baby” The overwrought (but still oddly endearing) “Waterfalls” may be TLC’s most memorable video, but we prefer this clip from their earlier, more neon days. “Baby-Baby-Baby” finds the trio at college, goofing around with friends in the dorm and getting real about what they want out of a relationship.
“Weird Al” Yankovic — “Amish Paradise” Weird Al is a master of the music video form, so it was hard to pick just one example of his uproariously funny ’90s output. We went with “Amish Paradise” because it’s a spot-on takedown of Coolio’s tougher than thou Dangerous Minds theme, “Gangsta’s Paradise” — and also because it stars Florence Henderson. Plus, we have it on good authority that Amish kids in Pennsylvania loved it, going so far as to blast the track out of their buggies. True story!
The Notorious B.I.G. — “Juicy” Biggie’s breakthrough video, a literal but evocative clip contrasting his Brooklyn background and time in jail with his newfound success, strikes a perfect balance between serious social commentary and fun. If you don’t get goosebumps hearing the lyrics, “It was all a dream/I used to read Word Up magazine,” you may just be a little dead inside.
Björk — “It’s Oh So Quiet” Pitchfork’s list includes a few great Björk videos near the top, and while we love her work with Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham, we’re going to have to insist that “It’s Oh So Quiet” is at least equally wonderful. It’s a party in an auto parts store, with ecstatic, Broadway-musical choreography, a Busby Berkeley-esque umbrella number, and a dancing mailbox. What more could you want in just one music video?