Now, in compiling this list, we had certain criteria to follow. First of all, we didn't throw any old video on there just because it was shot in the '80s. C'mon, most early-'80s bands didn't know any better! MTV was brand-new and only available in maybe eight states...so how could those '80s bands have known that what they were committing to film (or more likely to Beta tape) would come back to haunt them decades later on VH1 Classic? Their record labels gave them a camcorder, a few hours on a rented soundstage, and a $100 budget, and said: "Yo, make this thing called a 'video.'" Those guys in A Flock Of Seagulls didn't know that if they shot their "I Ran" video in a mirrored room, they'd need to do more than wrap the camera tripod in aluminum foil to keep it hidden in every shot! Give 'em a break.
Additionally, we didn't include any video, new or old, that we're pretty sure was intended to be ironic and/or campy. This eliminated clips like Olivia Newton-John's "Physical," Warrant's "Cherry Pie," Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy," Aqua's "Barbie Girl," every chapter of R. Kelly's "Trapped In The Closet," and pretty much anything by David Hasselhoff, Weird Al, David Lee Roth, or William Hung. We instead focused on videos that at the time of their creation were clearly intended to be taken seriously. Because sometimes the funniest jokes are unintentional ones.
So here we go...which of the videos below is the biggest turkey? You be the judge. Feast your eyes on the "turkeys" below, try not to lose your appetite...and be thankful that videos this bad rarely get made anymore!
BEYONCE - "DEJA VU"
We honestly don't think this one is that bad. Other videos on this list are much bigger offenders. But we must include "Deja Vu" because Beyonce fans were so dismayed by this clip, they actually started a petition demanding that it be entirely re-shot. Citing what they considered to be "erratic, confusing, and alarming" choreography; "unbelievable and ridiculous" costumes; and "unacceptable interactions" and "non-existent sexual chemistry" between Ms. Knowles and her co-starring future husband Jay-Z, the 4,000 or so petitioners begged Beyonce's record label, Columbia, to go back to the drawing board (or editing room, as it were). It's probably the least horrific video listed here, but as far as Beyonce videos go, it is a stinker. In fact, we're still waiting for Beyonce to heed that petition and reshoot this one:
DAVID BOWIE & MICK JAGGER - "DANCIN' IN THE STREETS"
This video managed to do the seemingly impossible: make two of the coolest rock 'n' roll legends of all time look completely UNCOOL. How did this happen?? Did all that coolness just cancel itself out or something? How could the rock 'n' roll stud who sang "Paint It Black" and the artist formerly known as Ziggy Stardust combine forces and wind up making a video as embarrassing as this? It's as painful as watching home-movie footage of two dorky dads doing the Macarena at a Bar Mitzvah. The mind boggles. And the eyes bleed:
SUSAN BOYLE - "PERFECT DAY"
Granted, SuBo is no video vixen. No one expected--or wanted--her to get down at some Ke$ha-style warehouse rave or fiery Lady Gaga bathhouse. But no one wanted to see her brave the elements at Scotland's Trussochs National Park, looking like one of the missing members of Celtic Woman, either. And the fact that SuBo received "creative direction" on this gauze-lensed, new-agey snoozer from the song's originator, Lou Reed--supposedly one of the coolest rockers ever--boggled the minds and broke the hearts of NYC hipsters everywhere. Talk about taking a walk on the mild side, Lou:
BUSH - "GREEDY FLY"
Although nowadays Bush are pretty much known as The Band With That Guy Who Married Gwen Stefani, in the '90s they were one alt-rock's biggest groups (Gwen and frontman Gavin Rossdale met when No Doubt were opening for Bush, remember). We guess that's why Bush thought they could get away with a ridiculous Seven-ripoff mini-movie like "Greedy Fly." A two-minute-long intro, fleets of helicopters, Gavin playing some sort of Hannibal-like role in a bite-proof dog-cone, other band members hatching out of eggs or flying around in angel wings or incubating as man-sized maggot embryos...seriously now, was all this necessary to SELL A BUSH ALBUM? And just how many Bush albums would Interscope Records need to sell in order to recoup its losses after financing this pretentious $5 million atrocity? We bet Gwen agreed to participate in the No Doubt reunion tour just to pay off the debt for this misguided mess:
AARON CARTER - "THAT'S HOW I BEAT SHAQ"
While we find former child star Aaron wildly entertaining when he's bickering with his Backstreet Boy brother Nick on House Of Carters or camping it up on DWTS, we find him a lot harder to take when he is a) rapping and b) lying about outperforming world-class athletes thrice his size. This is so bad, it makes Shaquille O'Neal's own attempted musical side career look like the work of Bob Dylan:
COUNTESS LUANN - "MONEY CAN'T BUY YOU CLASS"
Money can't buy you class. And, as this Auto-Tuned Real Housewife proves here, it can't buy you a decent music video, either.
GUNS N' ROSES - "ESTRANGED"
When GNR first hit MTV in 1987, they were the antithesis of big-haired bubbleglam bands like Poison, Europe, and the aforementioned Warrant. But their sound soon bloated along with their egos, and by the time they released the bombastic and self-indulgent Use Your Illusion two-volume set, they'd become the polar opposite of the lean, mean, rock 'n' roll machine they once were. Their cast-of-thousands "November Rain" video, with its Stephanie Seymour wedding scene and jillion-piece orchestra, or "Don't Cry," with its pointless cliff-jumping car stunts and unexplained Shannon Hoon cameo, were OTT enough. But "Estranged" was their real big-budget shark-jumper, as it came complete with oil tankers and dolphins. Yes, dolphins. It also featured men in white coats coming to cart Axl Rose away to the funny-farm. Well, at least that one part of the "Estranged" video was realistic:
IMPERIAL STARS - "TRAFFIC JAM 101"
After these SoCal dudes shut down L.A.'s 101 freeway to shoot an insipidly literal interpretation of this song, they were arrested--and angry Angeleno commuters were understandably demanding that these rap-rock jerks be locked away for life with no chance of parole. But really, Imperial Stars' even more heinous crime is the finished video. And perhaps the most fitting, if cruel and unusual, punishment for the band would be to make them watch it over and over:
JANET JACKSON - "JUST A LITTLE WHILE"
After Janet's Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" scandal, the stakes were high when she released her next album, Damita Jo. She needed a comeback, and she needed it bad. The logical strategy would be for her make an amazing video, which didn't seem like it'd be so hard for her to pull off--after all, this was the woman behind such iconic MTV classics as "Rhythm Nation" and "Pleasure Principle." But instead Janet came up with this hot mess, in which she seemed to be wearing horrifically unflattering cast-off costumes from Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert and dancing more like Tito Jackson than the Janet Jackson we all once knew and loved. Her label at the time, Virgin Records, panicked and pulled the plug on this video's promotion on the eve of its U.S. premiere, and then only allowed it to be broadcast overseas...where apparently music-video standards are a lot lower:
MICHAEL JACKSON - "YOU ROCK MY WORLD"
No disprect to the late, great MJ, of course. The King Of Pop made dozens of amazing, groundbreaking videos during his illustrious career. This, however, was not one of them. In 2001, Michael released his inaptly titled Invincible album and its first single, the video for which was a massive allstar affair featuring comedian Chris Tucker and Marlon Brando. Yes, THE Marlon Brando. Brando was apparently paid a fortune (a rumored cool million) to utter one line: "Now?" Yup, that's all they wrote for him. It's sad that this was one of Brando's final acting roles (not to mention one of Michael's final music videos), but Brando's nanosecond-long cameo still turned out to be the most interesting moment in this truly underwhelming clip:
JA RULE - "THE REIGN"
Still reeling from the fallout of his feud with 50 Cent--a battle that all but destroyed his once-thriving career--Ja was clearly trying to make some statement about the death of hip-hop with this clip. But like most mini-movie music videos (see "Greedy Fly," "You Rock My World," "Estranged"), it missed the mark. Sometimes a music video should just be a music video, y'know? The best thing in this clip is late, great Patrick Swayze, although Patrick's performance here is not quite up to par with his star turn in Roadhouse:
JOURNEY - "SEPARATE WAYS"
Yes, we know we said earlier that a video couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't make this list just for being made in the cheesy '80s. But in the case of this video, "Dude, we didn't know any better--it was 1983!" is not enough of an excuse. Journey really should have known better, no matter what year it was. "Separate Ways" was lame the day it came out, and time has not been kind to it:
BOBBY MCFERRIN - "DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY"
Is there anything more unbearable than watching Robin Williams mug for the camera? Yes, there is: Watching him mug for the camera alongside a professional clown named Bill Irwin, in a video for one of the most irritating novelty songs ever recorded. There was a rumor floating on the Interweb that Bobby McFerrin had killed himself, and though Snopes.com thankfully debunked that myth, we wouldn't have blamed Bobby for feeling suicidal after spending a day on this video set:
MC HAMMER - "2 LEGIT 2 QUIT"
After the huge success of "U Can't Touch This," MC Hammer clearly thought he was untouchable. He was raking in millions from lucrative endorsement deals, he had his own Saturday morning cartoon show, and he'd convinced all of America that droopy-drawer harem pants were the epitome of hip-hop chic. No wonder he thought he could get away with a video like this. It's pretty much a Hammer infomercial in which Hammer--aided by a slumming James Brown, who really ought to be remembered for more respectable moments in his long career than this--declares war on a hapless Michael Jackson and sets his sights on Jacko's King Of Pop throne. ("Bring me the glove!" James Brown cackles.) It is perhaps THE most megalomaniacal video of all time. Not long after this fiasco, the hammer of a bankruptcy court judge came down on Hammer, and though this may sound harsh to say...seriously, you won't feel that sorry for Hammer after watching this:
HEIDI MONTAG - "HIGHER"
Man, bashing this one is just too easy. Heidi's Spencer Pratt-directed debut video--which, she admitted to the press, unsurprisingly "took 20 minutes to film and cost zero dollars"--was the object of such foaming-at-the-mouth public hatred upon its release, she supposedly suffered some sort of meltdown over it. "I cried myself to sleep that first night after my video came out. I just couldn't understand why people I didn't even know felt the need to be so cruel and hurtful toward me," the over-surgerized star told Us magazine. Well, we were crying too, after we watched this. We were in mourning for those three wasted minutes of our lives we could never, ever get back:
EDDIE MURPHY & MICHAEL JACKSON - "WHATZUPWITU"
Howe bizarre that Michael Jackson, arguably the greatest music video visionary ever, ended up on this list twice? But hey, not every video can be "Thriller" or "Billie Jean." Anyhoo, in the past, moonlighting singer Eddie Murphy enlisted some truly talented musicians to help him launch his music career. He recruited Rick James to collaborate on "Party All The Time," for instance. That didn't go so well. Then he convinced Jackson (because apparently the "New King Of Pop," MC Hammer, wasn't available) for this mess--and the result was even worse. What is up with this?:
*NSYNC - "I DRIVE MYSELF CRAZY"
The next time you finding yourself thinking Justin Timberlake is the Coolest Guy On The Planet, watch this video of JT and his former boy-bandmates portraying satin-pajama'd mental ward patients, and think again. This is more embarrassing than that time Justin was on Punk'd:
PRINCE - "BATDANCE"
This should have been a winning combo. One of the biggest movies of all time, Batman, soundtracked by one of the biggest artists of all time, His Purple Majesty. So why does this video make us want to jump in the Batmobile and drive far, far away?:
BILLY SQUIER - "ROCK ME TONITE"
Few artists can point to one defining moment, one bad choice, that in and of itself ruined his/her career. Jerry Lee Lewis can cite his decision to marry his 13-year-old cousin, for instance. Well, for '80s rocker Billy Squier, it was this laughable video that did him in. Before the rather un-rockin' "Rock Me Tonite" was released, Billy was revered among hescher-haired headbangers for his Camaro-rock anthems like "The Stroke" and "Everybody Wants You." For those songs, he made straightahead concert videos--no frills, all thrills. But then, in the middle of the Flashdance craze, he succumbed to pressure to make a trendy MTV video, and the result was three or so minutes of Billy jazzercising frenetically around some Miami Vice-style penthouse loft in artfully ripped pastel dancewear, writhing in satin sheets, crawling pantherlike on all fours, and caressing his thighs a la Jennifer "She's A Maniac" Beals. And it only took those three or so minutes to destroy Billy's entire reputation and career. He never recovered from the post-video backlash, and he has frequently, publicly blamed the "Rock Me Tonite" video for his slide into obsolescence. Honestly, he would have had a better chance of rebounding if he had married his 13-year-old cousin. This video really is that bad. If actual video footage of Billy jumping over a shark had been released instead of this, it still wouldn't have been more clear that his career was kaput:
STYX - "MR. ROBOTO"
The career-killing Styx debacle Kilroy Was Here was a high-camp 1983 concept album depicting a bleak future in which rock 'n' roll is outlawed and society is controlled by a Big Brother-esque, right-wing entity known as the Majority For Musical Morality (MMM). It would have been bad enough if Styx had just left it as a concept album, with its vaguely anti-Asian centerpiece "Mr. Roboto" (later heard in a gut-bustingly funny Volkswagen commercial). But the "Mr. Roboto" music video, starring an assembly line of slanted-eyed androids and an over-emoting Dennis DeYoung doing his corny Broadway shtick, pushed it even farther. And that's not all, folks! Styx, taking a cue from their almost equally abysmal Paradise Theater concept, had to turn Kilroy Was Here into a full-fledged stage musical, too--complete with changing sets, theatrical costumes, soft-shoe routines, and each band member playing a different character. This was how Styx chose to promote the Kilroy Was Here album on the road, and we're sure that by the time the band's many bewildered concertgoers had sat through this musical, they'd started to sympathize with the MMM and were also rallying for the outlawing of rock 'n' roll--or at least the outlawing of Styx:
VANILLA ICE - "I LOVE YOU"
We know, we know..."Ice Ice Baby" seems like the more obvious Iceman choice here. But trust us. This one is worse:
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