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The 10 Best Music Videos of the 80s

By Dustin Rowles | Music | June 3, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Music | June 3, 2009 |

“The Real World” debuted on MTV back in 1992. And that, folks, was essentially the end of MTV as we knew it. If you came of age after 1992, you probably don’t even remember a time when the music video network was (gasp!) dominated by music videos. We got MTV in Arkansas in 1987. I was 12. And I watched that damn network at least a couple of hours every day. When a new video debuted on the network, it was a huge goddamn deal, tantamount to debuting the new trailer for Sherlock Holmes today. Granted, during the day, heavy rotation was largely full of crap (the day we got MTV, I remember seeing Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” at least 7 times), but if you hung around after midnight, they’d play the really good stuff.

Anyway: Putting together this list was a lot more fun than I’d anticipated. The production values weren’t nearly what they are today, when it isn’t unusual for an artist to drop $1 million on a video no one will ever see. But some of those 80s videos were glorious; teenagers during that time would often sit for hours waiting for their favorite video to air. And now: You can just go to YouTube to see it.

Crazy goddamn world. At any rate, here’s the 10 Best Videos of the 80s (my version, anyway). I realize that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” has no business not being on this list, but I never really liked it that much. Plus, it took half an hour out of your day whenever they decided to air it.

10. “Safety Dance,” Men Without Hats

9. “Ana Ng,” by The Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants - Ana Ng

8. “Relax,” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

7. “Bastards of Young,” The Replacements

The Replacements - New Music - More Music Videos

6. “Once in a Lifetime,” by the Talking Heads

talking heads-once in the lifetime clip

5.“Dear God,” by XTC

4. “Money for Nothing,” Dire Straits

3. “Sledgehammer,” by Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel - New Music - More Music Videos

2. “Night of the Living Baseheads,” Public Enemy

1. “Land of Confusion,” by Genesis

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.