Not all music videos have to be insanely sexy all the time. In fact, they don’t even have to have real people! Some of our very favorite clips feature the work of extremely talented designers and illustrators, who craft a colorful world that dazzle our eyes while the music seduces our ears. From A-ha to Yeezy, read on for 15 of the greatest animated music videos of all time!
“Wanderlust” by Bjork (2008)
Oh man, to be honest we don’t know WHAT the hell is happening in this kaleidoscopic vision! Produced by NYC-based Encyclopedia Pictura, the shoot required a mix of animation, puppets, CGI, live acrobatics and minatures.
“Accidents Will Happen” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions (1979)
Released in the pre-MTV days, this gorgeous clip by Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton was selected for an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2003.
“Kandi” by One Eskimo (2009)
Have the hanky ready for this one. This group of English indie musicians and sound designers take the form of an unnamed set of animated characters, including a penguin, monkey, giraffe, and -you guessed it- an Eskimo. The poignant child-like story packs an unexpected emotional punch.
“Feel Good Inc” by Gorillaz (2004)
Considering they’re an animated band, we had quite a few to choose from when it comes to Gorillaz! “Feel Good Inc,” seamlessly blends computer animation with traditional two dimensional, creating an extremely unique and interesting look. According to the band’s audio commentary, the video was “inspired by a lot of Japanese animation with the colors, the textures, and the tones.”
“Paranoid Android” by Radiohead (1997)
Artist Magnus Carlsson’s of Robin fame was chosen to provide a bright cartoon at Thom Yorke’s request. He was admittedly at a bit of a loss for how to approach the music video assignment, and only came to his final idea after locking himself in his office for 12 hours, staring out the window and listening to the song on repeat!
“Oh My God” by Mark Ronson (ft. Lily Allen) (2007)
Here’s the first of several Roger Rabbit-style videos on this list that mix cartoons with the real world, but this one is arguably the sultriest. The clip features an appearance from the song’s producer Mark Ronson, who stars as the man in the audience of a cabaret where an animated Lily Allen performs.
“Love Rollercoaster” by Red Hot Chili Peppers (1996)
RHCP covered this Ohio Players jam for the soundtrack of Beavis and Butt-head Do America, and the dynamic duo appear along side the band in their video.
“Heartless” by Kanye West (2008)
Yeezy called upon Hype Williams for his vibrant video for “Heartless,” designed as a tribute to Ralph Bakshi’s 1981 rotoscope animation classic American Pop.
“Starlight” by The Supermen Lovers (2001)
Although huge in Europe, this floor-filler is criminally underplayed in the States. But the music video kicks it up a level, with “potato people,” aliens, day of the dead skeletons…Trust us, this unique clip is not to be missed.
“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” by U2 (1995)
It was included on the Batman Forever soundtrack, so it makes sense that U2 would want their vid to have a distinctly Gotham City-like vibe. Bono battles between his two “alter egos” “The Fly” and “MacPhisto” while the rest of the band hunt down the Batwing plane using their guitars as flame throwers.
“Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits (1985)
It might not look like much now, but the computer animation in this ’80s classic was seen as extremely ground breaking at the time. It’s widely accepted as the first depiction of CGI humans characters in pop culture history. Amazingly, lead guitarist Mark Knopfler was unimpressed with the concept and originally refused to make it. According to legend it was girlfriend who finally convinced him, and MTV history was made.
“Juxtaposed With U” by Super Furry Animals (2001)
The song features the robotic singing of a vocoder, so the band decided to push the futuristic angle even further in their music video by using computer animated images of New York City at night. Human beings are depicted as thermal images, going about their evening out on the town. It’s pretty amazing when juxtaposed with the graphics in the “Money For Nothing” video from just fifteen years before!
“One More Time” by Daft Punk (2000)
The animation for Daft Punk’s dance floor classic would eventually be seen again in the Japanese film 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar System, which used the band’s entire Discovery album as a soundtrack.
“Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul (1989)
This video was in constant rotation on early MTV, despite the fact that the cat kind of looks like a pervert.
“Take On Me” by A-ha (1985)
We don’t care how old it is, this one is still so damn cool. A classic to end all classics.