If you, like us, have had Adele’s new song Hello playing on a loop since it debuted a few days ago you would’ve noticed two things. First: It’s a great song (that would explain the destruction of the replay button), and second: The video is strikingly beautiful. No wonder then that it was directed by Xavier Dolan, the genius wunderkind director behind such masterpieces like Mommy and I Killed My Mother.
This got us thinking. Dolan isn’t the only big-name movie director to come along and direct a music video. There have been several huge directors behind some of the most iconic videos you’ve ever seen. Heck, most of the great ones working right now got their break directing music videos, especially during the boom period in the ‘90s. The odd thing is you probably didn’t know they were behind it.
So we find ourselves making a list of some of the biggest filmmakers to ever lend flashy visuals to the songs of great musicians. Let us finally solve this case of curious anonymity when it comes to directing music videos. Here it is.
Adele – Hello
Director – Xavier Dolan (Mommy, I Killed My Mother, Tom at the Farm)
So if you were wondering why the video looked so good, here’s the answer: Dolan shot it entirely on IMAX. He isn’t a stranger to new formats (His Cannes winner Mommy was shot in Instagram ratio). Go watch it.
Justin Timberlake – Suit & Tie
Director – David Fincher (Se7en, The Social Network, Gone Girl)
David Fincher is probably one of the best directors to have ever stepped behind the camera. Here, he reunites with his Social Network star Justin Timberlake in a stunning black-and-white video.
3 Doors Down – Here Without You
Director - Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2)
Some say the only thing that worked in Marc Webb’s Spiderman movies was the relationship between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. The director’s talents with emotional relationships are on full display in this super-popular 3 Doors Down song every millennial kid will remember.
Michael Jackson – Bad
Director – Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver)
On paper, the pairing of The King of Pop and the legendary director behind some of the best gangster pictures ever sounds decidedly odd. But the video has achieved iconic status now and we can totally see some of Scorsese’s raw power here.
Michael Jackson - Thriller
Director – John Landis (An American Werewolf in London)
This video revolutionised the music video industry. With the 13-minute video (which MTV called the most influential music video ever), suddenly a new format of short films was born.
Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love
Director - Michael Bay (Transformers, Pearl Harbor)
The scale, sweep and style is unmistakably Bay. The video is shot in his trademark saturated colours and even has a few of those pesky explosions Bay would later find fame for. But at the centre of it all is a deeply touching story about a tragic Dracula type character.
R.E.M. – Losing My Religion
Director – Tarsem Singh (The Fall, Immortals)
India’s very own Tarsem Singh was behind this smash hit song’s surreal video. But he pretentiously called himself Tarsem then. Just Tarsem. But those of you familiar with his movies know that he is a unique visual stylist. This video is as good as the song. And we all know what a classic the song is.
Pharrell Williams ft Daft Punk – Gust Of Wind
Director - Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs the World)
If there was ever a filmmaker who’s style was perfectly suited for music videos it’s Edgar Wright. But weirdly, he chose to go in a completely different direction here. There’s isn’t a single directorial trademark to be found here and Edgar Wright probably has some of more recognisable ones. This is quite possibly the slowest his camera’s ever moved. Ah well, it’s still pretty great.
The Killers – Bones
Director - Tim Burton (Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland)
Only Tim Burton (by way of Ray Harryhausen) could’ve made this. Also, this means Tim Burton listens to The Killers, which, for some reason is really funny. We were thinking something along the lines of Stephen Sondheim.
Kanye West - Only One
Director - Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Her)
Spike Jonze, aside from being a great director, is also one of the best music video directors out there. He’s been working for decades and was one of the pioneers of the form. Choosing just one video from the dozens of excellent ones he’s directed would be a task we aren’t willing to go through with. So here’s his latest. This one also gives us a glimpse of the genius that his hidden deep beneath the layers of pretence in Kanye.
Eminem – Headlights
Director - Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, 25th Hour)
While Spike Lee’s video for Fight the Power by Public Enemy, which also served as part of the soundtrack to his path-breaking movie Do the Right Thing would have been the obvious choice here, we went with Headlights by Eminem. The song was a first for the rap star (what with his relationship with his mom and all) and Spike Lee’s first-person treatment made it all the more special.
My Chemical Romance – Desolation Row
Director - Zack Snyder (300, Man of Steel)
My Chemical Romance’s (RIP) cover of the Bob Dylan song was pure MCR. And Snyder’s direction was pure Snyder. What more can we say. Yes, there’s slow motion but there is also great comic book imagery thanks to lead singer Gerard Way’s love for the medium. The song was part of the Watchmen soundtrack.