Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Best Music Videos of All Time - Rolling Stone
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Rolling Stone Readers Pick the Best Music Videos of All Time

Watch the winning videos, including clips by Michael Jackson, Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses


Last weekend, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite music videos of all time. We received an enormous number of votes, and after counting every one, we now present the results. (And remember, you did the voting; we just announce the winners — even if they are exclusively videos by male artists.)

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4. a-ha, ‘Take on Me’ (1985)

With its imaginative high concept and stylish mix of live action and rotoscoped pencil animation, Steve Barron's video for a-ha's "Take on Me" is one of the most iconic clips of the Eighties. Barron also made Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing," the Human League's "Don't You Want Me," Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," making him one of the most influential video directors of all time.

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3. Nirvana, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (1991)

Samuel Bayer's music video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was just as radical and widely imitated as Nirvana's song itself. The clip pretty much invented the visual lexicon of grunge, with a bunch of dudes in ratty clothing wilding out at what appears to be a pep rally for a high school full of burnouts and gutter punks. After years of glossy pretty-boy rockers and video vixens, Bayer and Nirvana came out of nowhere to give a brand-new look to mainstream rock music.

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2. Peter Gabriel, ‘Sledgehammer’ (1986)

Stephen R. Johnson's 1986 clip for Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" was considered a groundbreaking video upon its release for its innovative use of claymation, pixilation and stop-motion animation. But today, long after digital technologies have made this once cutting-edge video look relatively quaint, it's still impressive for its goofy, surreal sense of humor.

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1. Michael Jackson, ‘Thriller’ (1983)

John Landis' 1983 short film for the title song from Michael Jackson's record-setting album is so iconic and influential that it's not exactly a surprise that it won this poll by a landslide. So much more than a promo clip for a song, this mini-movie practically invented the notion of the music video as a major cultural event, and it opened up a world of possibilities for the medium that artists are still exploring today.

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