Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (Jeff Stein)
Only in a Tom Petty video can Alice trip her way through Wonderland. A naïve Alice downs psychedelic shrooms courtesy of a hookah-smoking caterpillar. As the crazed Mad Hatter, Petty fucks with her high. The clip itself hasn’t aged well but its stunning art direction was remarkably ahead of its time. Here, it’s a virtual threat to Alice’s confused sense of perspective. When the munchies kick in, Alice herself is downright edible.
Paula Abdul, “Cold Hearted” (David Fincher)
A group of record executives arrive at a rehearsal hall where Paula Abdul is waiting to audition her new music video concept. The execs sit and watch in horror as Abdul and her troupe of dancers (who appear as if they’ve been plucked right off New York’s dingy city streets) pull the shades and unveil their racy creation. Inspired by the dance sequence “Aerotica” from Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz and directed by a then-virtually unknown David Fincher, American Idol Abdul’s campy “Cold Hearted” is, along with Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” and Madonna’s “Vogue,” one of the greatest clips of the “dance video” genre.
OutKast, “B.O.B.” (Dave Meyers)
OutKast’s urgent “po-wer music electric revival” is matched with a video clip courtesy of Dave Meyers that is just as brilliant and high-energy as the song. The video deftly mixes the soulful with the decadent as a pre- (or post-) apocalyptic community (including dancing hoochies, bone thugs and choir women) flocks to the last house on Earth for one final dance call. It’s all about peace, love and heading into your next lifetime with a smile on your face.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Scar Tissue” (Stephane Sednaoui)
In 1999, Red Hot Chili Peppers returned with new do’s and John Frusciante in tow. The stylish first video from their much-celebrated Californication was simple and profound. Directed by Stephane Sednaoui, who helmed the band’s famously silver-hued “Give It Away,” the symbolic “Scar Tissue” found the Chili Peppers driving across the desert in a red convertible. Beaten, bandaged and at peace, the band mimes their broken instruments to the familiar riffs of Frusciante’s guitar. The clip was a beautiful metaphor for the band’s resolve and triumph over death, drugs and, most of all, time.
Soundgarden, “Black Hole Sun” (Howard Greenhalgh)
Director Howard Greenhalgh challenges American complacency in his apocalyptic video for Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” The clip mocks and exaggerates our society’s search for truth in television and its gratuitous exploitation of the earth. Soon nature turns itself on the unsuspecting suburb. A tall, thin blonde bakes in the sun as a Barbie doll is scorched on a barbeque. For torturing a cockroach under a magnifying glass, two young boys are burnt under the giant lens of the Black Hole Sun. In the end, the town people’s distorted self-images and general arrogance becomes their end.