Michael Jackson and Madonna have landed on the list three times each.
Ever since the explosion of MTV in the 1980s, music videos have been an important part of every artist’s career. Not only are they often a visual representation of a song’s meaning, but they also give artists the opportunity to express themselves creatively. And when these artists are given the freedom to create their own visual masterpieces, things can get a little over the top!
Musicians like Madonna and Michael Jackson have easily spent millions of dollars on music videos throughout their careers, earning them several spots on the list of most expensive videos ever made. Whether it’s thanks to A-list star appearances, massive sets or groundbreaking CGI technology, these videos all have budgets in the millions – and when you factor in inflation, the number is even more staggering. .
Please note that this list is ranked by video price based on current inflation as calculated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Check out the music videos that broke the bank below…
10. Limp Bizkit “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” – $4.8 million
In 2000, Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst made a big-budget video for “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” which was partially filmed atop the South Tower of the World Trade Center. It featured cameos from Ben Stiller and Stephen Dorff, who starred in “Zoolander” that year. The video cost $3 million at the time, which, thanks to inflation, would now be around $4.8 million.
9. MC Hammer “2 Legit 2 Quit” – $5 million
MC Hammer went above and beyond for his 1991 music video for “2 Legit 2 Quit”. The nearly 15-minute clip was practically a short film, with a storyline revolving around Michael Jackson’s legendary glove. The video also featured numerous celebrity appearances, including Tony Danza, Jim Belushi and James Brown. Back then, the video cost $2.5 million, but in today’s economy that would be $5 million.
8. michael jackson “Bad” – $5.4 million
Michael Jackson hasn’t shied away from watching big-budget videos over the course of his career, including his 18-minute video for “Bad,” directed by Martin Scorsese and written by novelist Richard Price. It took over a month to shoot on location in Brooklyn and was heavily inspired by “West Side Story”, including a dance in a subway station.
“It seemed like a great idea. Martin Scorsese came to me and said that Quincy Jones had come to him on behalf of Michael Jackson to do a music video. That was when music videos were starting to become a big thing. So Jackson wanted to show people that he’s “down”. Think about it: Richard Price, Scorsese, Michael Jackson, who the hell is going to say no? Of course I was…Jackson didn’t. isn’t a bad actor, and Scorsese, well, he’s great. I wrote a really good eight-page script… I think it’s cool that I did that,” Richard told Vulture. about the video.
7. Aqua “Cartoon Heroes” – $5.6 million
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Aqua’s music video for “Cartoon Heroes.” The group, which is best known for its hit “Barbie Girl,” spent more than $3 million on the video, which is $5.6 million with inflation. Over the course of the video’s four minutes and nineteen seconds, a one-eyed sea monster attempts to take over the world. While there’s a lot of use for green screens and unique sets, it’s still unclear how much the video costs. Unfortunately, the band kept their lips tight about the video.
6. ‘Separate’ Guns N’ Roses – $7.6 million
Guns N’ Roses’ “Estranged” music video was the final part of a trilogy that also included “Don’t Cry” and “November Rain.” The 10-minute video was written by frontman Axl Rose and directed by Andy Morahan. The story follows a despondent Axl as he navigates a series of expensive sets that end with him jumping from an oil tanker into the ocean, only to be rescued by a pod of dolphins. The video used high-end CGI visual effects that were unique at the time and helped bump the price up to $4 million, or $7.6 million in today’s economy.
Some claim the video actually costs even more, with director Mark Romanek saying he thinks the production required “$9 or $10 million” at the time, which is more than the most expensive ranked video ever. all the time !
5. michael jackson “Black or White” – $8.1 million
Michael Jackson’s second most expensive music video was for his 1991 hit “Black Or White.” An estimated 500 million people tuned in when the 11-minute video premiered, breaking television records and becoming the highest-rated Fox special up to that point. The video features appearances from a young Macaulay Culkin and Tyra Banks as well as numerous special effects that include a moment when a black panther transforms into Michael. Overall, the video cost $4 million, and taking inflation into account, its budget today would be $8.1 million.
4. Madonna “Bedtime Story” – $9.1 million
Madonna has made some of the most expensive videos of all time and in 1995 she lost $5 million to create a video for “Bedtime Story”. Today, that grand total would be over $9 million. During the production process, director Mark Romanek aimed to bring the song’s hook, “Let’s get unconscious,” to life with surreal imagery. The video took six days of filming as well as weeks of post-production to perfect the digital effects. When it was finally finished, its release was treated as a movie premiere and played in theaters in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.
3. Madonna “Die Another Day” – $9.4 million
Madonna’s second most expensive video was filmed for the James Bond theme song she recorded in 2002. Inspired by action sequences from the film of the same name, Swedish filmmaking team Traktor spent £6, $1 million for video, which would easily exceed $9.4 million today. . The video features realistic fights between a good and an evil Madonna, which would have required advanced special effects in almost every shot.
2. Madonna “Express Yourself” – $11.2 million
Madonna’s video for “Express Yourself” was the most expensive ever, reaching $5 million, which, thanks to inflation, would now be over $11 million. The video, inspired by Fritz Lang’s dystopian film “Metropolis”, was directed by David Fincher but included many contributions from Madonna herself.
“This one, I had the most input. I oversaw everything – set construction, everyone’s costumes, I had meetings with makeup and hair and the director of photography, everyone. Casting, finding the right cat – just all aspects. Kind of like making a little movie. We basically sat down and threw in all the ideas we could think of and all the things we wanted. All the images we wanted – and I had some obsessions, for example the cat and the idea of Metropolis. I absolutely wanted to have this influence, this look on all men – the workers, working diligently and methodically”, said Madonna in “Madonna: In Her Own Words”.
1. michael jackson & Janet Jackson “Scream” – $12.7 million
Michael Jackson has teamed up with his sister Janet to create the most expensive video of all time. In 1995, “Scream” cost $7 million to create, which today would cost over $12 million. The video, directed by Mark Romanek, follows the siblings as they escape the earth in a spaceship and includes 13 sets that took weeks to create. Mark says the main reason the video cost so much to make was the extremely tight deadlines and fast turnaround times required by the label.
“The reason the video cost such an obscene amount of money was because the record company came to me too late with a definite release date…And Michael is crazy. Everything has to be the greatest, the biggest, biggest, best, best ever in all of history. And they gave me something like five weeks from the day they came to see me until that tough premiere date. So we had to build all the huge sets and do all these huge effects… It takes two weeks minimum to figure it out, write it, prep it and budget it. Then it took 10 days to shoot it. left two and a half weeks to edit it and do the visual effects So it was them, not me, who had to throw in the money And two million dollars of that was the benefits and the safety of Michael and Janet and the campers and the trailers and the helpers… So two million of that ain’t even al onscreen,” Mark told SlashFilm.