These are the 28 music videos that literally defined our childhood
If you need I’m A Slave 4 U choreo lessons, come find me
When it comes to music videos, artists have about four minutes to change our lives forever.
That sounds a bit sensationalist, but it’s honestly the truth. A good music video changes your life. The impact it has on you can be huge. Most people remember where they were the first time they saw Toxic by Britney Spears – the first time they saw all the wig changes, the lasers, the motorbike, THE AIR HOSTESS OUTFIT.
A good music video elevates a great song to legendary status. It can make the ordinary into something extraordinary.
Most of us were lucky enough to grow up in the 00s. A decade where music videos emulated pop and celebrity culture to new heights. They were bigger budget, more outfits that were increasingly outrageous and more routines for us to spend hours perfecting in our Groovy Chick bedrooms.
These are the music videos that DEFINED our childhood:
Spice Girls – Wannabe
It’s a simple video, but that’s why its so iconic. The Spice Girls just drop their first video and sell themselves to you instantly. Just five huge personalities in iconic outfits running round a building causing chaos. This video put that staircase in the history books, and to this day you can find gays stood on them getting Instagram pics.
S Club 7 – S Club Party
S Club 7 feel a bit like a fever dream. There’s no one like them now, and probably never will be anyone like them again. We all just wanted to be mates with S Club 7 so badly. The way we’d all sit and watch Miami 7 on CBBC and pine over having Rachel Stevens wardrobe? There’s just something about this music video that’s so funny and cursed. It’s the AJ and Curtis on Hollyoaks level of acting and the way that every member of S Club can seemingly jump about 10 feet in the air.
Britney Spears – Oops! I Did It Again
If we’re being real, almost every single Britney Spears video could be on this list. Britney literally IS music videos. She runs the game. The turn of the millennia magic of Oops I Did It Again is just bigger, badder and better than the videos of Baby One More Time, and Britney really showed that she was here to stay. The Titanic referencing speaky bit is legendary and the red latex suit is so famous it should be preserved in a museum.
Destiny’s Child – Bootylicious
The star power in this music video is absurd. It’s just so fun and the colours burst out of it. The simplicity of it being set in a fitting room with people just trying on clothes works so we. We spent out childhood mesmerised by the outfit changes and wanting Beyoncé’s blonde and pink wig.
Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
WOW. The outfits! The sci fi visuals! The choreography! Fun fact regarding the iconic dance: the choreographer made up the routine in his hotel bedroom the night before and had no space to do anything that moved a lot and thus resulted in the arm choreo you know off by heart to this day.
What more can be said? This speaks for itself. When someone says cultural reset, this is what they mean.
t.A.T.u – All The Things She Said
This is literally how I learnt what a lesbian was. And the worst thing about it? One half of the duo that was a queer awakening for millions said on Russian TV that she’d condemn her own son for being gay. Great!
Christina Aguilera – Dirrty
Remains to this day one of the sexiest four minutes ever captured on video. Parents were outraged. Pure filth. Main pop girl behaviour. One of the best a human being has ever looked.
Beyoncé – Crazy In Love
No one has ever walked down a street with more impact than Beyoncé in Crazy in Love. She was already a huge star, but the whole video is still such an ARRIVAL. The choreography is insane. The way the video builds from the street in the day, to nighttime and then by the time the rain comes down it is OVER.
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River
Oh, we’re crying. Sobbing over the fact evil JT could do Britney like this! The lookalike is an evil touch, but this video is so cool and bitter and plot heavy. It’s like watching the finale of a Netflix drama.
Outkast – Hey Ya!
Shake it like a polaroid picture! The whole 60s inspired TV sensation set up crosscut with the families at home dancing along is so euphoric and suits the song so much. Every detail is memorable, the green outfits! The icons in the audience covering their ears! PURE JOY.
Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
That time we all just went full goth for a bit and blasted this at all times. The dangling from the skyscraper video still gives me palpitations. The wind noises!
Eric Prydz – Call On Me
Don’t know where to start with this one. No matter your sexuality, you awoke with this one. You looked up and you took notice. The way his **** bounces in his shorts… I’m logging off.
O-Zone – Dragostea Din Tei
There was a time where before school I used to sit flicking through the music video channels to find this. It always came on at like 8.35 and was proper stressful to try and watch it before I had to go to primary school. Was absolutely fascinated with it, and how they managed to defy the laws of physics by standing on the wings of the plane.
Everytime – Britney Spears
One of the saddest and most haunting videos ever filmed, made even sadder with Britney’s autobiographical writing and Everytime’s heartbreaking melody. So beautiful and well made, everyone acts the hell out of it and her death is just so upsetting!
Girls Aloud – The Show
A very iconic shitshow of a video. Girls Aloud basically torture a load of men for the hell of it under the guise of a hair salon. It’s niche British hun culture at its finest. The choreography is a disaster and nobody is in time. I love it.
Mariah Carey – We Belong Together
Such a huge comeback for Mariah and one of the biggest songs ever recorded. The soap opera music video is so extra and legendary. The running off from the wedding and Wentworth Miller from Prison Break being the love interest? That’s history.
Gorillaz – DARE
Shaun Ryder’s massive head in this video was a childhood obsession. The juxtaposition of his proper Manc spoken vocals with the surrealism of the Gorillaz animated antics? Completely mystifying and so cool to this day.
Sandi Thom – I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker
The definition of a one hit wonder, but if you’re only having one hit at least you’ve got a video like this to be ingrained in our memories forever. The big long take must have taken ages and all the chaos that goes on round Sandi strolling through London is iconic.
The Pussycat Dolls – Buttons
This is one of them perfect videos where it’s just dancing in a big studio with warm lights, but done so well. The choreography is so good. Nicole Scherzinger and her cronies really knock it out the park. It’s so sexy. Feels like a sticky night on a summer holiday where the air just tastes dead warm. A wow.
Sugababes – Push The Button
Literally changed the process of getting into a lift forever. Can you look me in the eye and tell me you get in a lift without thinking of this video? No, you can’t.
Avril Lavigne – Girlfriend
All music videos where the pop star multiroles as hero and villain in varying wigs is timeless. A pop punk classic with a video that is pure teen mayhem. EVERYONE knows this video.
Rihanna – Umbrella
God, this is still just so great. Rihanna was already a star, but this song and video made her one of the biggest artist on the planet. Everything about it is so dramatic and perfect. The haircut changed the world.
Beyoncé – Single Ladies
A back to basics dance video that shows that all you need to be legendary is have star power bursting out of you. It’s just Beyoncé, her back up duo and some amazing choreography. The rest is history.
Britney Spears – Womanizer
When you’d grown up on the early Britney videos, it felt so special seeing her overcome her dark times with a visual comeback this arresting. Womanizer was EVERYWHERE. It’s like the spiritual sequel to Toxic too, which just increases the iconic factor. So many wig changes.
Taylor Swift – You Belong With Me
It’s just teen film to the MAX. A full high school film plot in four minutes. The best video from Taylor’s early days, and one you could just watch on loop as you shout along with that ridiculously great pre-chorus.
Cheryl – Fight For This Love
Said it before and I’ll say it again, every outfit in this video could be a fancy dress costume. This was a British cultural reset. The army visuals and Cheryl calling her fans “me little soldiers” is so legendary.
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – Telephone
At this point, we’ve all grown up a bit. And instead of being lured in by bright colours and sexy people in leotards, we can appreciate art for being art.
And Telephone is music videos as art.
The hugeness of Gaga and Beyoncé coming together on this is so powerful. The video is a 10 min long epic that references Kill Bill featuring the ACTUAL car from the Tarantino movie. The costumes are high fashion and the editing is slicker than it has any right to be. Telephone is cinema.