Top 10 MTV VMA Video of the Year Winners, Ranked
With the MTV VMAs quickly approaching, it’s time we reminisce about all the videos that claimed the top prize at the awards show over the years. There will, no doubt, be some differences of opinion as to the inclusion and ranking of the following list. So, assuming yours truly is our momentary expert, feel free to offer your misgivings in the comments section below.
10) Sinéad O’Connor – “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990)
Profoundly disarming for its simplicity as well as the Irish singer’s seemingly impromptu tears, this video is familiar across generations. The controversial singer isn’t known for keeping her opinion to herself, making this heartbreaking video seem all the more candid. Sinéad O’Connor (and Prince, who wrote the song) gets bonus points for using mere numbers and letters long before texting was a thing.
9) Katy Perry – “Firework” (2011)
Perhaps one of the decade’s biggest, most undeniable anthems, Katy Perry douses the viewer with images of struggling kids seemingly finding their resolve. But, let’s face it, this video would not be etched on your mind if it weren’t for the image of sparks shooting from Perry’s boobs.
8) TLC – “Waterfalls” (1995)
Pairing images of the group performing alongside individuals struggling with addiction and crime, the video takes the heartbreak that makes the song so unforgettable and gives it a vibrant narrative that is loaded with ‘90s motifs. The best part has to be the translucent CGI-rendered trio bee-bopping… in front of a waterfall. Who needs subtlety?
7) Outkast – “Hey Ya!” (2004)
There was a period in the late ‘90s to early ‘00s when music videos adopted bright, simple colors. But the cartoonish look worked for a time and no video is a better example than Outkast’s video for this repetitive yet addictive track. Showcasing their genre-blending, playful, over-the-top style, “Hey Ya!” set the feel-good standard that folks like Pharrell came looking for years later.
6) Britney Spears – “Piece of Me” (2008)
Featuring all the pop singer’s favorite ingredients, including loads of backup dancers, reflective surfaces and all the torso viewers can handle, “Piece of Me” is a high watermark for a singer made for music videos. It may be more of a commentary on her public persona than previous videos, but you can’t fault her for making a song (and a video) about everyone wanting a piece of her.
5) Taylor Swift – “Bad Blood” (2015)
It’s been heavily contested just how close the crossover singer is with the arsenal of female celebs featured in the video but we can all agree they make a badass supposed squad. Shamelessly snatching the look and feel of Frank Miller’s popular comics, Taylor Swift and her cohort stick it to the bad guys while tearing through this pop gem. Even if you aren’t a fan, they’ve got plenty of eye candy for the non-believers.
4) Beyoncé – “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (2009)
C’mon, you knew this one would make the cut! With this video, Beyoncé took one of her best-known tracks and paired it with some equally iconic dance moves. She and her two backup dancers tirelessly gyrate and smolder for the camera, despite the fact that the whole video is black and white. It’s confident and brazen and MTV ate it up, just like everyone else.
3) Rihanna – “We Found Love” (2012)
With a collage of the Barbadian beauty clinging to a blonde fella in a bathtub, in a field and in a car, the video gives this club anthem an intimacy that stuck with viewers. Rihanna is a natural when it comes to (seemingly at least) giving her fans a peek at her goofy, playful side. It helps sell the video’s messy love story and provides some stunning images for a soaring track.
2) Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” (2014)
Like TLC, sometimes the literal route really works. In its own polished, picture-perfect way, this video attempts to capture Miley Cyrus’ threadbare emotional connection with her fans, aiming for the gut. Besides, in 2014 Miley was getting naked everywhere, it only made sense that she’d end up naked on an actual wrecking ball for this one.
1) Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” (2010)
Where to begin with this gigantic production? From the crowned creatures clapping their way out of coffins to Lady Gaga’s elaborate headgear, this video relishes the surrealist trappings of ‘80s music videos and ups the ante. The pop songstress has gone through countless incarnations but this video’s imagery will always linger in the minds of fans and foes alike.