Nearly every truly iconic music video since 1984 has been nominated for at least one Video Music Award in its year of eligibility, but in the twenty-seven years that the ceremony has been held, only ten individual music videos have won five or more Moonmen. (This year, Adele‘s “Rolling In The Deep” and Katy Perry‘s “E.T.,” featuring Kanye West, could potentially join the club.) These videos got the attention and praise of everybody in their respective years of release. But do they stand the test of time? What about their competition? Here’s our look at the ten most-lauded videos in VMA history.
Madonna, “Ray of Light”: Five VMAs (of eight nominations)
Concept: Madonna raves on fast-forward all over the planet.
Competition: “Ray Of Light” wasn’t the only video with eight nominations: Garbage‘s video for “Push It” had as many nods (though, ultimately, no wins). We’d totally forgotten about “Push It,” actually, and its stocking-masked nun heist/exorcism would be huge today, because it looks like a Lady Gaga video from the 1990s, and if there are two things music fans like these days, they’re Lady Gaga and the 1990s. The year of eligibility for this ceremony was also the height of jiggy rap, but while Diddy‘s five nominations were split among four videos (Puff Daddy and the Family: “It’s All About The Benjamins”; Notorious B.I.G. Featuring Puff Daddy: “Mo Money Mo Problems”; Mariah Carey Featuring Puff Daddy and the Family: “Honey (Remix)”; Puff Daddy & Jimmy Page: “Come With Me”), Will Smith got as many nominations just for “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” (though the video only won one Moonman).
Verdict: While we love “Push It,” the fact that we had to refresh our memory sort of proves that “Ray Of Light” was simply the stronger video that year. As for jiggy rap? Hype Williams was robbed, sure?none of the Best Direction nominees, even, were jiggy rap?but Diddy has gotten his fair share of VMAs over the years (and even hosted one of the ceremonies). HOLDS UP