When it comes to music and music videos we all have our individual tastes and favourites. these do of course overlap and thus the top 10 list was born, which gave rise to the top 20 list, to accommodate more diversity and to reach a wider audience, then we got the top 40 and ultimately the top 100 list. every year, towards the end of the year we are bombarded by top 100 lists of all time, which apparently get updated annually, making a mockery of eternity. Inevitably these lists count down to something, the best ever, the world number one, the highest rated, sanctioned from above. and then next week its something different again, unless record sales are up, then it’s the best ever for two weeks in a row
In a recent survey of UK music fans Queen’s 1975 hit, Bohemian Rhapsody was named the UK’s best music video. That qualification is important, they’re not claiming it’s the best music video ever, just the best in the UK. when the video was first released in 1975 it stayed on the top of the charts for 9 weeks and went to number one again in the weeks following lead singer’s, Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991.
In the same survey Michael Jackson’s music video for Thriller came second and Justin Timberlake’s video for Cry me a River came third.
In a separate, rather disturbing live contest, Queen beat the Beatles to be voted the Greatest British Band of all time by BBC 2 Radio listeners. the bands were judged on the following: song writing, lyrics, live performances, originality and showmanship and somehow Queen beat the Beatles. Perhaps the judges needed help in learning the definitions of song writing, lyrics, live performances, originality and showmanship because as far as I know, and being a Beatlemaniac I know a fair deal, the Beatles were rather astute at all of them. it makes no difference however as it is a list of all time so I am sure that it will be updated and corrected soon.
And in another poll in the UK, Channel 4 viewers voted Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the top pop video. That’s it, not of all time, or in the world, just the top pop video. Michael had another video in the top 10, Billie Jean, at number 7. Madonna also had 2 songs on the list, Like a prayer and Vogue at numbers 5 and 9 respectively. the newest video to make the list was Rock DJ by Robbie Williams.
The last poll from the UK that we shall look at was complied by people actually in the music industry, artists and industry insiders. in their list, Johnny Cash’s video for his song Hurt is number one and garnered the following comments: REM lead singer Michael Stipe said of the number one video: just heartbreaking. Kudos to director mark Romanek for having the audacity and the courage to do a video like that.
Michael Jackson’s Thriller came second. Bohemian Rhapsody only made it to number 18.
The point is that these examples reflect the diversity of lists. We have three different music video lists, we’ll discount the favourite bands contest because it was so obviously flawed, and each list has a different number one. a video that was voted number one in one survey only wound up at number 18 on another. the only consistent video is Thriller by Michael Jackson and what can we conclude from that? the world appreciates a freak. We like to be fascinated by the macabre. If it’s different and holds out attention we’ll remember it forever. We reward those who intrigue us. But not those who go out of their way to try and freak us out – take mental notes Marilyn Manson. Ahem, and Michael Jackson the later years.
As with all top 10 -100 lists, you can’t please everybody. People are going to be upset that their favourite band was left out, or wasn’t higher on the list, or that Britney beat them. really we should all prioritise, what was Britney doing on the list in the first place? the nice thing there is that you can create your own top 100 list of all time online. and because it’s your list you can modify it and update it whenever you feel like it. it doesn’t even matter if you populate it with all of your favourite artists’ songs. That’s what makes it uniquely your own.
The thing with top 10 -100 lists is that they are intriguing and ensnaring. Once you start watching, no matter where you come in on the list, you have to see what the number one is. whole days can be lost but nothing else matters. Curiosity, it’s a glitch.