Michael Jackson, Madonna, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga are known for creating exquisite music videos that draw viewers inside and make them feel like they are part of a cultural event instead of just a good song. However, every once in a while, these artists have screwed up and created something pretentious and – in some cases – downright offensive. Let’s take a look.
Michael Jackson – “You Rock My World” (2001)
After Jackson’s career was hurt by child molestation allegations in the 1990s (at least in the United States), the superstar wanted to prove that he was relevant to a new generation of music video fans, and he tried way too hard to do so in this one. Jackson hired Chris Tucker for the video, and it has the opposite effect he was hoping for.
Jackson and Tucker follow a beautiful woman into a club. He tries his signature dance moves, which are outdated in 2001. The video certainly has “The Way You Make Me Feel” vibes, but without the charm or the good music to back it up. There is no denying that Michael Jackson is a music video genius with a collection of iconic music clips, but “Your Rock My World” just isn’t one of them.
Madonna – “What It Feels Like For a Girl” (2001)
Oh, Madonna – how could the Queen of Pop screw up this badly with a music video? Released in 2000, Madonna’s album Music was headed towards beating the sales of her 1998 comeback masterpiece Ray of Light. The title track from Music, which delivered one of the best videos of her career, hit No. 1 and stayed there for four weeks. The second single “Don’t Tell Me” successfully mixed country with pop and delivered another iconic moment for the superstar.
In the spring of 2001, Madonna was set to continue that momentum with “What It Feels Like For a Girl,” which is not only one of the best songs of her entire catalog, but it had potential to become a defining feminist theme song as well. And then came the video.
Not only did the video replace the beautiful ballad with a ridiculous dance remix, but instead of supporting the innocence and cuteness of the single, Madonna’s new video was so violent that it was banned on MTV and VH1. In the video, we see Madonna t-bone her car into another vehicle, stun-gun a man at an ATM, run over hockey players, and blow up a gas station. According to an article by SFGate in 2001, some thought the banning of the video was hypocritical.
To be fair, the video deals with abuse, its effects, and how hate and violence lead to one’s own self-destruction. Perhaps the video would have been better fit for Madonna’s 2012 track “Gang Bang.”
Katy Perry – “Rise” (2016)
Katy Perry has always been known to be self-depreciating – that’s part of her appeal. But her video for the 2016 song “Rise,” which many consider a flop, is the most pretentious thing Perry has done to date.
“Rise” features Ms. Perry battling with a parachute while wearing a jumpsuit that would look better on Lara Croft. Her facial expressions look like she is auditioning for some type of clown show. One hopes that the parachute will win the battle, but Perry balances all of nature’s obstacles and, unfortunately, wins in the end.
Lady Gaga – “Edge of Glory” (2010)
Why did Lady Gaga create her worst video for the best song she’s ever released? Well, apparently it wasn’t supposed to be that way. In 2011, MTV News reported that the video’s original director, Joseph Khan, quit right on the set. So, instead of an epic video to match an epic song, we have a clip where Lady Gaga, looking just like Madonna did during her 1987 “Who’s that Girl” phase, cavorts down a foggy street and does some weird moves on stairs from a fire escape.
The only thing that (sort of) saves this video is seeing Clarence Clemons do a sax solo at the end. It was the last we would see of the famous E Street Band member before his death during the summer of 2011. Luckily, Lady Gaga hasn’t made this bad of a music video since, even if “Perfect Illusion” comes close.
[Featured Image by Phil Walter/Getty Images]