Animated music videos are a staple of the medium and a go-to for artists who either do not want to appear in their own clips or — for one reason or another — don’t have the time to turn up for a video shoot. Animation has become a lot cheaper and easier to produce in recent years, so the number of cartoon clips have skyrocketed, particularly among smaller acts on a tight budget. Here, our pick of some of the greatest animated videos of all time, including unforgettable creations by Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Gorillaz, and more.
The video for Daft Punk‘s dance-pop classic “One More Time” features animation that would later appear in Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar System, a Japanese animated film set to the tune of the duo’s entire album, Discovery.
Pearl Jam swore off music videos after “Jeremy” blew up in 1992 but returned to the medium in 1999 with this animated clip for “Do the Evolution,” directed by comic book superstar Todd McFarlane.
Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz project was originally conceived as the music for an animated band created by his collaborator, comics legend Jamie Hewlett. “19-2000,” one of their earliest clips, is most effective in getting across the charm of Hewlett’s goofy characters.
Magnus Carlsson’s animated clip for Radiohead‘s “Paranoid Android” sidesteps the high-concept videos from the band’s previous album while highlighting the nightmarish absurdity of the lyrics.
Tool have made a number of animated videos, but Fred Stuhr’s stop-motion clip for their breakthrough hit “Sober” set the template for many disturbing videos to come down the line.
Kanye West teamed up with video legend Hype Williams for the “Heartless” video, a homage to Ralph Bakshi’s 1981 rotoscope animation classic American Pop.
Darren Romanelli’s clip for Wilco‘s “Dawned On Me” has the distinction of being the first hand-drawn Popeye cartoon produced in a quarter century.
A-Ha’s “Take On Me,” a staple of early MTV, is one of the most iconic animated clips, with live action mingling with some very stylishly drawn pencil illustrations.
U2 wrote the space-age glam tune “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” for the Batman Forever soundtrack, so it was only sensible that the group would appear as cartoons in this clip. Bono’s Zoo TV-era Mr. Macphisto persona is ideally suited to animation, particularly in how it echoes the look of Batman’s archnemesis, the Joker.
Björk has made a number of animated videos, but the best is “I Miss You,” in which she appears as a cartoon illustrated by Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.
Matthew Sweet’s breakthrough hit “Girlfriend” includes footage cut from Space Adventure Cobra, one of the rocker’s favorite Japanese animated movies.
Nick Uff’s eerie, frenetic animation for Portishead‘s 2008 single “The Rip” is a perfect match for the grim, restless tone of the track.
Peter Simonite and Divya Srinivasan’s video for the opening track from Spoon’s 2001 album Girls Can Tell captures the melancholic tone of the music with simple, bold images that play out the romantic angst of the lyrics without getting overly literal.
The video for Paula Abdul’s late Eighties smash “Opposites Attract” is a cheeseball classic, with the future American Idol judge playfully dancing around with MC Skat Kat, the greatest rapping animated cat in the history of pop music.
The White Stripes broke into the mainstream with this clip, in which video auteur Michel Gondry immortalized the rock duo with stop-motion Legos.
R.E.M. are best known for their inventive live-action clips, but later in their career, Michael Stipe began teaming up with animators such as CRUSH Inc., the Toronto studio responsible for this striking video for the Accelerate tune “Man-Sized Wreath.”