Séamus Smyth

5. Depeche Mode – Wrong

Depeche Mode’s most redundant track has a red squiggly line running under its lyrical Word doc. as the veterans explain how they can’t seem to get a damn thing right the entire song, or as the brilliant Biggie Smalls once said, “ You’re dead wrong.” The video seems out of sight at first, but it slowly becomes clear that something peculiar is transpiring. Suddenly the camera begins to pay attention to potentially the most inebriated driver to ever put vehicle to pavement. The bewildered man (or woman) seems to be sporting an eerie looking mask and seems to be shaking off whatever hallucinogen he or she unwisely consumed before jumping behind the wheel. Shit gets real just shy of the two-minute mark when somebody is the victim of the most blatant hit and run ever captured on MTV. Is “Wrong” one of the best videos ever or just the most twisted and diabolical? It hardly matters because like every video on the list, you are dying to find out what the hell is going on right to the bitter end.

4. Coldplay – The Scientist

It was the video that proved Coldplay would move beyond the colour Yellow. It started off with a gap-toothed Christ Martin floored on an abandoned mattress that left the audience initially wondering if this was just going to be a still-shot of Martin taking a catnap. But then something odd happened. The video seemed to somehow be moving backwards and suddenly one became curious as to where this temporary time machine may lead. The lyrics “Take me back to the start” seem to serve as excellent inspiration for a video falling effortlessly backwards. The video is reflective, and the enchanting environment that Martin stumbles through only enhances the feeling.  The song has become almost strictly associated with funerals and heartbreak, so it’s fitting that the video ends (or begins?) with a traumatizing car crash. For a number of reasons, it really does make you want to go back to the start.

3. Puff Daddy feat. Ma$e and the Notorious B.I.G. – Been Around the World

It’s the most ostentatious, ego-driven video potentially ever, but that’s what the 90s came to expect of Puff Daddy. When Diddy went big, it wasn’t super-sized, but Dino-sized. Diddy makes like Nicolas Cage in Faceoff before literally going around the world in a jet worth the price of a small city. Diddy’s protégé/homeboy Ma$e is easily in his prime, dropping verses that would, for a brief time, earn major cred throughout the rap universe. The cameo from J-Lo made everyone’s eyebrow rise with interest and served as an excellent entry-point for her own ambitious dabblings in the music-video business. The video is basked in coolness, no better example than when Diddy and Mase danced and rapped at the sultan’s palace like they are back in New York at a family BBQ.

2. A-Ha – Take on Me

It captured beyond what anyone thought a video could do. It’s the preliminary stages of every animated-film drawing board merged with a young woman’s curiosity. The hand appearing out of the comic book is not only pulling the lady into the cartoon scene, but it’s managing to pull the audience into the full four-minutes of this monumental achievement of short-film. The mirror shot in particular, where the male protagonist alters from black and white to flesh and blood, feels centuries ahead of its time. The video is decade-defining, from the unmistakable 80s instrumentation to the outrageous hairdos that have managed to re-appear in 2012. Beyond the cartoon genius, it tells a cohesive love story that every man and woman born with an imagination and a sense of the “what-if,” can appreciate.

1. Johnny Cash – Hurt

Before you even begin to scream Trent Reznor’s name, let it be understood that yes, we are all aware that Nine Inch Nails wrote and performed the original version of “Hurt.” Although it is a cover, Johnny Cash gives Reznor’s ode to pain the facelift of a lifetime. Cash not only blows the dust off this already classic track, he creates a completely new, refreshed and dare I write it, superior masterpiece. It’s the ultimate self-homage to one of Rock n Roll’s pioneers. He is the original man in black, and by watching the classic shots of Cash in his past, it’s astonishing to count how many artists he has clearly influenced. Cash spilling red wine like a drunkard who’s finally had enough of breathing, sliced besides clips of him walking through the tall grass decades earlier, is not only one of the most potent shots of any music video, but maybe one of the most precious collaborations of film of the past decade.