Ah, the ’90s R&B music video and its life-changing choreography. What could be more right about these precious nuggets of perfection? Nothing.
Whether your eleven-year-old self used your parents’ moving truck ramp as a runway and the empty cargo area as a stage to perform “Creep,” or you got in trouble for choosing “Too Close” for your dance routine at a school assembly, these wondrous visuals were always there to give. Let us fill our hearts again with the unique joy that is ’90s R&B music video choreography. Here are twenty of our favorites. Don’t ever tell us we weren’t there for you.
“Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson (1989)
All hail Janet Jackson! Yes, the choreography in “If” was also incredible, but the official uniforms, synchronization, and precision make “Rhythm Nation” next level. This black and white video is clearly all about the dancing.
“Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe (1990)
Proper focus on the choreography here is brief but glorious. The parachute pant dancing crew only really gets their shine around 4:20 with energetic shuffles, kicks, spins, and this awesome jog in place move that we really want to learn.
“Motownphilly “ by Boyz II Men (1991)
Boyz II Men got the bird-like arm motions on lock. Can’t nobody flap like them. And how about that swingy side-to-side skip? You know you wanna do it.
“My Lovin’ (Never Gonna Get It)” by En Vogue (1992)
While the ladies bop around in shiny outfits a la the Supremes, this video goes against the grain by paying homage to the male form. Acrobatic male silhouettes remind us that men can be sexy, too. That latex suit, though? Nope.
“She’s Playing Hard to Get” by Hi-Five (1992)
Hi-Five gets adorable in what might as well be someone’s mama’s backyard. But can you kick-switch, fist pump, and swerve around with such finesse? We didn’t think so.
“Real Love” by Mary J. Blige (1992)
When your dance moves resemble ’90s aerobics, you know your life is at an all time high. And those baseball jersey ensembles completely set off the masculine meets feminine feel to the choreography. This one is holy grail.
“Do You Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson (1992)
In this Egyptian themed video, Eddie Murphy’s relationship obviously abruptly ends after he gives his queen a Michael Jackson performance. His bad. The dance sequence is quite the fantastic sight with a huge costumed cast, a screaming MJ amidst kicks, damn near push-ups, and neck rolls to call home about.
“I’m Every Woman” by Whitney Houston (1993)
Positive communal feminist vibes all day over here. A lady dance troupe exudes strength in all black in an old theater, TLC busts some freestyle moves, and a group of bouncing young girls all remind us that girl power is the best power.
“Just Kickin’ It” by Xscape (1993)
We’re not sure it’s possible to look more adorable and hardcore at the same time. While the dancing here was brief, few could flick their wrists as coolly as these gals. And one time for Tiny with those mad intentional, lightweight violent kicks.
“Whatta Man” by Salt ‘N’ Pepa (1994)
Though this video plays out mostly like an organized dance party, the choreography shines around 1:12 featuring some fancy eagle inspired moves and the ever popular windmill arms. The guys even take it down to the floor, leaving way for the ladies to swish and sway all their sexiness.
“Creep” by TLC (1994)
Laidback tomboy choreography never looked better with this signature ’90s video. Now that flannel tie-arounds are back in, maybe it’s time to practice that modified butterfly with the swing-scoop arm thingie.
“This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan (1995)
When you have bare-chested men in oversized low cut vests, what more do you need, really? Perhaps some feel good dancing and the ultimate ’90s dance party.
“Steelo” by 702 (1996)
The dancers pop in this video with their sharp masculine choreography, making their movements loud despite their baggy attire. No messing around here.
“No Diggity” by Blackstreet (1996)
The semi slow motion cuts to knee-padded dancing girls in rainy streets were simple and sparse, but effective in immortalizing “No Diggity” as having one of the most memorable routines of the ’90s.
“Too Close” by Next (1997)
Too much goodness here: that elbow switch over the head & kick thing, those signature ’90s backward squats, the run-stomp in place, and you’ve got to love the “step back you’re dancing kinda close” move that immediately transitions from a stopping palm gesture to come hither fingers. What’s with all the mixed signals, guys?!
“You Make Me Wanna” by Usher (1997)
The dance battle in “My Way” was cool, but this is where it all started. A fresh faced Usher gives us a taste of nearly two decades of dancing goodness to come. With impressive synchronized leg crossing and hat tossing, organized leg wobbles, and effortless MJ-esque glides, the stage for a star was clearly being set. We’re also pretty sure Usher invented the matrix sway – check all that pioneering at 2:54 – you’re welcome.
“Are You That Somebody” by Aaliyah (1998)
Which high school dance troupe routine didn’t borrow from this video? From the silhouetted vignettes to the guy-girl routines to the large group ensembles, the choreography here was epic to say the least. The high-rise thong string sensation came in close second.
“The First Night” by Monica (1998)
Aside from that fine ass Filipino dude and the new uniform becoming khakis and white baby tees, this video also had some winning dancing ranging from b-boying to cool snakey moves.
“Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)” by Mya (2000)
Mya and her girls get dusty with some fancy steel pole dancing in the desert to help tell off her ex man. He ultimately joins in with his boys for a tug of war with said poles and then steals them. Rude.
“Thong Song” by Sisqo (2000)
Before twerking was a pop sensation, making your booty go “dun-na dun-na” a la the “Thong Song” was a commandment to live by. Sisqo came through with the clutch dance moves, too. That knee swivel stomp joint, though? Definitely attempted imitation.