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Ten Best Apocalyptic Dance Music Videos

Britney Spears, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga and more go dancing at the end of the world

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Britney Spears, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga and more go dancing at the end of the world

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Britney Spears, ‘Til the World Ends’ (2011)

Britney Spears' new video for "Til the World Ends" is the latest in a long line of music videos in which pop stars dance in post-apocalyptic future landscapes. Spears' clip has most of the bases covered – there are sexy people wearing tattered, badass Mad Max-style outfits, a bombed-out futuristic city and quasi-militaristic choreography. The video takes place on December 21st, 2012, which isn't all that far off from now, though the style and setting look like something a bit further off into the future. It could be that the end of the world just happens to come while Britney and her friends reenact that weird underground rave from the second Matrix movie.

By Matthew Perpetua


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Rick Springfield, ‘Bop Til You Drop’ (1984)

In this early, highly ambitious clip directed by a young David Fincher, Rick Springfield stars as a sort of Spartacus figure who incites a slave uprising on a world ruled by creepy aliens – mainly by dancing around and singing into a headset.

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Laura Branigan, ‘Self Control’ (1984)

It's hard to tell exactly what's going on in the seedy dystopia of Laura Branigan's "Self Control," but one thing is very clear: You definitely don't want to live in a city where nearly every street and floor is covered in some kind of dank plastic tarp, not even when you get to writhe around with weirdos wearing leotards and masks. It just looks uncomfortable.

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Rihanna, ‘Hard’ (2009)

In this clip, a basically topless Rihanna commands a militia in a forbidding desert warzone. Sadly, of all the dystopian futures presented in music videos, this one may be the most plausible. We can only hope that when the world comes to this, we at least have sexy pop stars on the front lines wearing absurd spiked armor.

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Spice Girls, ‘Spice Up Your Life’ (1997)

There aren't very many dystopian-future pop videos from the Nineties – maybe because back then the future seemed more cool and optimistic. The Spice Girls went against the grain with "Spice Up Your Life," a clip set in a grimy, rainy high-tech world in which the Spice Girls are not only still alive, but appear to have completely subjugated all of humanity.

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Duran Duran, ‘The Wild Boys’ (1984)

At the time of its release in 1984, Duran Duran's video for "The Wild Boys" was among the most expensive music videos ever produced. Clearly, it was worth every penny. It's basically identical in concept to Rick Springfield's "Bop Til You Drop" from the same year, but with a much bigger budget, eerie blue lighting, a touch of bondage and some of the most terrifying dancing girls in the history of pop videos.

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Aaliyah, ‘More Than A Woman’ (2001)

Aaliyah's "More Than A Woman" gets some bonus points for adding a touch of vibrant color to its futuristic factory setting. It's very unclear what this factory makes though – those floating piston things don't seem to be doing much more than keeping the beat. Fun fact: That's a young Mark Ronson starring as the DJ in the second half of the video!

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Madonna, ‘Express Yourself’ (1989)

"Express Yourself," one of Madonna's most iconic videos, was directed by an older, wiser David Fincher in 1989. It's the Metropolis tribute to end all Metropolis tributes, with a super foxy Madonna lapping up a bowl of milk while ultra-buff dudes toil and fight in a grim factory setting. There's enough juicy subtext in this thing to fuel a thousand meticulously footnoted grad school papers.

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Janet Jackson, ‘Rhythm Nation’ (1989)

Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" is the gold standard for dystopian dance pop music videos. Shot in stark black and white and set in a smokey, oppressive factory setting, Jackson leads what appears to be a hip paramilitary organization through some of the most memorable choreography in pop video history. The future may look bleak, but at least it's funky.

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