Its been a long journey for the music video. Nowadays, we look forward to a new Lady Gaga or Kanye West video almost as much as we look forward to their new songs, but it took decades for the form to earn any respectability.
Having started out as better-than-nothing replacements for live performances, music videos were just promotional tools before they got serious about artistic content. But now, with a few decades of history and lore behind them, music videos feel like a full-fledged industry of their own. In the slideshow below, we celebrate the medium's pantheon with 10 of its most visionary directors.
We aren't just concerned with the big hits. From the hip-hop pool party (see here and here) to the alt-rock family drama (see here and here), there are a lot of cliches for a director to fall into. Often, the artists who've done the most for the music video format did so by moving in a more experimental direction. After all, if you only have to engage an audience a few minutes, you can get away with some pretty avant-garde stuff.
Like the best adapted screenplays, which enrich the novels or plays on which they're based, the best music videos instantly become associated with the songs they support. Whether you're rereading Lord of the Rings and hearing Gandalf's lines in Ian McKellan's voice or listening to Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" and seeing Christopher Walken gyrating in your mind's eye, you can never look at the original works the same way after a good adaptation. Below, here are 10 videos the directors who changed our favorite songs forever: