We take a look at 10 of the most expensive music videos ever made, with eye-watering production budgets in the millions of dollars.
Music videos have come a long way since the advent of MTV in the 1980s. Back then, music videos were a novelty, but today they are an integral part of the music industry, helping artists to reach a wider audience and create a visual representation of their music.
Today, Music videos are an integral part of the music industry and provide a visual representation of the lyrics, message, and, sometimes, the artist’s ego. With technology on the rise, music videos have become more elaborate and visually stunning, resulting in a significant increase in production costs. Some of the most expensive music videos ever made have pushed the boundaries of creativity, production values, and special effects.
Today we’re gonna take a look at 10 of those boundary-pushing music videos, but first some rules:
- Our list today is limited to one entry per artist, otherwise, the top 10 would be mostly Michael Jackson and Madonna videos.
- Budgets for the music videos is adjusted for inflation and in USD for comparison’s sake.
Now, let’s take a look at ten of the most expensive music videos ever created.
1. Scream by Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson – $12.5 million
Scream was a highly stylized and futuristic video, featuring the two most famous Jacksons in high-tech costumes, in a sci-fi setting, surrounded by cutting-edge special effects and sound design. The music video directed by Mark Romanek cost an estimated $7 million at the time. What truly boggles the mind, though, is just how bad the special effects are for a budget that high, it just goes to show how far CGI has come in the last 30 years.
2. Estranged by Guns N’ Roses – $9.4 million
Estranged by Guns N’ Roses was a visually stunning music video, with its elaborate sets, special effects, and intricate choreography. The video, directed by Andy Morahan, cost an estimated $5 million at the time, which is probably enough to buy a small island and declare Guns N’ Roses as its official rulers.
3. Die Another Day by Madonna – $9.1 million
Madonna’s Die Another Day video was a high-tech, high-production extravaganza that would make James Bond jealous. Directed by Traktor, the video cost a staggering $6.1 million at the time and features Madonna in a futuristic setting, surrounded by special effects and cutting-edge technology. Basically, it was like watching a sci-fi movie with Madonna as the lead.
4. Cartoon Heroes by Aqua – $5.5 million
Cartoon Heroes by Aqua was a video that was so colourful, it made a unicorn’s coat look dull. With a budget of $3.5 million at the time, the video was a whimsical and playful production that was filled with animation and special effects. It was like watching a cartoon come to life, with the band as the stars.
5. 2 Legit 2 Quit by MC Hammer – $4.9 million
2 Legit 2 Quit was a video so high-energy, it could have powered a small city. With a budget of $2.5 million in 1991, MC Hammer brought his unique style and impressive choreography to life, surrounded by special effects that were out of this world. This video was a true display of MC Hammer’s showmanship and over-the-top personality.
6. Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle) by Limp Bizkit – $4.6 million
It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when Fred Durst was legitimately given $3 million and the director’s chair for one of the highest budget music videos of all time (we’ll really miss the 2000’s). The music video for Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle) by Limp Bizkit features the band in a high-energy performance, surrounded by special effects and elaborate sets.
7. Make Me Like You by Gwen Stefani – $4.5 million
The music video for 2016’s Make Me Like You by Gwen Stefani was a highly inventive production, directed by Sophie Muller. The video, which cost an estimated $4 million (which is the equivalent of $4.5 million in today’s money because recent inflation sucks that much), was shot in real-time, with Stefani performing the song and changing her outfit multiple times, creating a visually stunning and dynamic accompaniment to the song.
8. Victory by Puff Daddy (featuring The Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes) – $4.4 million
“Victory” by Puff Daddy (featuring The Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes) was a high-budget production, with costs estimated at $2.7 million at the time. Directed by Marcus Nispel, the video features Puff Daddy, The Notorious B.I.G., and Busta Rhymes in a high-end, fashion-forward setting, surrounded by beautiful women and luxury cars. It was like watching a music video and a car commercial all in one.
9. Heartbreaker by Mariah Carey (featuring Jay-Z) – $4 million
“Heartbreaker” by Mariah Carey was a video that was so luxurious, it made the Royal Family look like they were on a budget. Directed by Brett Ratner, the video cost a hefty $2.5 million in 1999 and features Carey surrounded by designer clothes, high-end jewelry, and expensive cars. It was a true display of Carey’s diva status and over-the-top lifestyle.
10. It’s All Coming Back to Me Now by Celine Dion – $4 million
It’s All Coming Back to Me Now by Celine Dion was a video that was so epic, it made The Lord of the Rings look like a short film. Directed by Peter Arnell, the video cost $2 million and features Dion in a beautifully crafted, dramatic setting, surrounded by special effects and elaborate sets. It seems most of the video’s budget, however, went into the tonally stunted and unintentionally hilarious motorcycle crash scene at the beginning of the video.