Back from the dead: music videos, from the network that forever ruined the term “VJ.” Photo: James Good.

I’m just wrapping my head around how huge this is, but MTV has posted a massive archive of music videos on their site. That can mean only one thing: it’s time to assemble CDMotion’s list of the ultimate music videos ever. Now, we don’t want the music videos everyone else likes — we want the really inspirational music videos that every aspiring visualist should go watch. After all, it was MTV that co-opted the term “VJ” and all kinds of avant-garde live visual and experimental cinema techniques at its inception, then somehow managed to systematically destroy before eliminating the “music” and “vision” from their name, leaving only reality “tele.” (Sorry, MTV.)

But yes, we want Fairlight CVIs.

We want great directors and effects.

We want techniques that inspire live visuals, putting the music video onstage and at the rave where it belongs.

Nominees are now open. Call in sick to work (especially since the weather everywhere seems terrible today) and take the day to watch old videos if you have to. And yes, if you can include links to the new MTV, that’d be great. Obviously, Viacom needs more money. (Actually, wait, some of you work for Viacom, so I’m sure the ad money will come back to us in the form of a round of beer or something.)

  • Flux

    dang…everything i searched for could not be found hehe

  • Peter Kirn

    Okay, we can do "missing" videos, too — those are important, as well!

  • Jacob Joaquin

    My personal three faves in no particular order:

    a-ha – Take On Me

    Beastie Boys – Sabotage

    Nine Inch Nails – Closer

  • Joseph H

    These two videos (both directed by Michel Gondry) immediately come to mind…

    The Chemical Brothers – Let Forever Be
    The Chemical Brothers – Star Guitar

  • Louis Muloka

    Videos can not be played outside of the US.

    …and yes even in the caribbean the weather is terrible, mind you my garden is loving every minute of it.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Louis: damnit. That's absurd.

    Oh, but water for plants — hurrah!

    Well, anyway, I welcome your favorite vids anyway. And I hear there are ways of (cough) getting around these things, realizing that of course I would *never* condone such a heinous abuse of intellectual property.


  • cat

    I was upset to find can't watch them here in the uk, I wonder if we can find a proxy….
    Ashes to Ashes David Bowie, I worked with the lighting director from this video a couple of years ago, one of the few times I was star struck, I love this vid!
    Video Killed the Radio Star The Buggles
    any video by Cornelius is a must watch
    Any Gondry video is worth watching!
    Actualy its quite good I can't watch them, I wouldn't get any work done for weeks!

  • prevolt

    for its time, Cassius 1999 blew me away.

    my current fave is Parisian Goldfish by Flying Lotus.

  • Brendan

    "Staring at the Sun" TV on the Radio

    of course "copyright restricts us from playing this video outside the us" if you try


  • Zac Darko

    Monolake – Linear
    Severed Heads – Dead eyes opened – 1993 Remix
    Boards of Canada-in a beautiful place out in the country
    Trentemoller – Miss you – the (fan-made?) youtube with the magnetosphere visuals
    Clark – Ted
    Alias – Sixes last
    Autechre – Gantz graf

  • Brendan

    A Best if Fan videos could be really inspiring as well.

    This fan video is particularly good and reminds me of Dayvan Cowboy by Boards of Canada (great vid too!)

  • Amsonx

    I try to play The Devo version of "satisfaction" but i see only :
    Copyrigth restirct us from playng this video outside U.S..

  • Christopher

    No ones mentioned Spike Jonze or Chris Cunninghan Jonathan Glazer or even some of (bit more arty and animatic) Jarvis Cocker's early work or lots of stuff on Warp of who's directors I forget the names of. The guy who did the Dizzee Rascal's 'Fix up look sharp', nice filmic animated background with glitchy film over top, has done some nice stuff. There's so many when you have a little think. But not showing outside US is dirty knickers!

  • Christopher

    Oh, Zac Darko mentioned some well nice artsy stuff :)

  • Torley

    I DEFINITELY need to nom Justice's "DVNO" for sheer typography, fluid beauty.

    And Royksopp's "Remind Me" for infographic heaven! (It doesn't appear to be on MTV yet.)

    Watching Underworld live is an inspiration, too. THAT SHEER ENERGY both on the screen and stage OMG.

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  • Jaymis

    Some interesting stuff here. Great list Zac, there's some stuff I haven't seen there so I'll check it out.

    That "Fan Made" magnetosphere video is actually one of Robert Flight404's original Magnetosphere videos!

    @Christopher: The Dizzee Rascal clip was directed by Fleischer, from the Smuggler group. Some amazing stuff comes out from those guys.

    We all know the big ones – Gondry, Cunningham, Jonze etc. and of course they're amongst my favorites, but it's lovely to see some stuff which isn't part of the "mainstream" of underground videos :)

    @Brendan: The Staring At The Sun video is of course a CDMo favorite, and Vade gave us some information on its making (by friend-of-CDM Benton C Bainbridge) back when…

    @Torley: DVNO is fantastic. Such lovely work.

    I'll have a little trawl through my Youtube and Vimeo links and see what I have to share:

    Architecture in Helsinki – Heart it Races and Debbie: Both massively cute and different. These guys are idea-monsters.
    Interpol – The Heinrich Maneuver: Wow. Slow-mo and single-shot together. Amazing stuff.
    Radiohead – Weird Fishes (Flight404 version): Another F404 piece. This is one video I can watch again and again. The A/V integration is superb, and Robert's persistance to do it all in Processing is crazy/beautiful.
    The Mountain Goats – Sax Rohmer #1: So yes, I may be a bit of a sucker for single-shot videos.
    Francis and The Lights: The Top: Just found this one recently. Love the single-shot style, performance, and simple method.
    Modest Mouse – Missed The Boat (Fan video): Love the stop motion style on this one.
    Spoon – Don't Make Me a Target (Adam Buxton Fan Video): CDM fave Adam Buxton with his signature diy low budget, high-comedy style. I watch this clip every week or so.
    Menomena – Wet and Rusting: Another simple, cheap video which relies on cute humor and great ideas.
    DJ Krust and Saul Williams – Coded Language: Great grungy aesthetic, and the many-TVs setup is very visualist-friendly.

  • ML

    Stakker Humanoid.

  • Benton-C

    The most inspiring music videos for this visualist lover are not to be found on MTV- check out Tom Ellard's posts e.g.… or

    or best yet, live music videos, anyone?

    there's tons of CVI in Tom and Stephen Jones' videos, Peter! not to mention Amigas and home built analog video synths :)


    Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" tore my face off back in the day. Devo's "Whip it" still crushes in the mix for dirty electro. Basement Jaxx's "Where's your head at" And who could forget some "Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo. Whut.

  • memo

    Not on the MTV archive yet unfortunately, but I'd say

    anything by Future Sound of London (back in the 90s when MTV was good they used to just show the entire lifeforms series!),

    anything by shynola (grooverider, unkle, quannum, qotsa etc.)

    orbital – the box

    Ministry – N.W.O.

    Sum 41 – The Hell Song (hey, its a good video!)

    madonna – get together (hey its a good video too!)

    Tool – Prison Sex, Sober, Stinkfist

    Jurassic 5 – whats golden (in fact anything by Logan)

    Missy Elliot – Bitch (and anything by hype williams)

    Fluke – Atom bomb

    Green Jelly – three little pigs

    Marilyn Manson – Sweet Dreams, Beautiful People

    Ken Ishii – extra (directed by mamoru oshii of ghost in the shell fame)

    nine inch nails – perfect drug

    and soo much more!

    all of which used to play regularly on MTV… I know, hard to believe they used to be a pretty good channel!!

    oh, and David Hasselhoff – Hooked on a feeling :P

  • memo

    sorry to double post, but how could i forget!

    anything by underworld/tomato (esp rez & born slippy)

    and anything by coldcut & hexstatic (atomic moog, timber, natural rhythms etc.)

    and pump up the volume, goldfrapp – strict machine, smoke city – underwater love… oh theres so much :s a nice trip down memory lane :)

  • TJ

    This is a good one the Front 242 – Happiness (Underworld Mix) video… love it!