Michael Jackson’s iconic video for “Thriller” will go down as the undisputed champion of dance videos, but let’s put the King of Pop’s classic aside. What other music videos deserve to be in the Pantheon of choreography? Here’s our list of the greatest dance videos of all time.
10. Britney Spears, “I’m A Slave 4 You”
Probably no one except die hard Britney fans would consider her a strong vocalist, but only a committed Britney hater would deny the fact that the girl can dance her ass off. The premium moment on her dance résumé came from her 2001 video off the Britney album. We all know what happened later in her career, but IAS4Y is Brit at her best.
9. Missy Elliott, “Loose Control”
Missy teams up with Ciara to show off their stellar footwork. It’s not often you get a hip hop dance video that takes elements from krump, stepping, and swing. Missy and director Dave Meyers took the vid to another level by using eye-popping special effects, wire work, and an obscure cameo from Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee.
8. Omarion, “Touch”
The former B2K frontman finally step out of the shadow of his boy band past when he paid homage to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” in 2005’s “Touch”. The video follows O and a feisty female, played by Danielle Polanco, as their secret courtship is consummated by dancing through the streets to The Neptunes production.
7. Madonna, “Human Nature”
What? No “Vogue”? Well, any number of Madonna’s 5 dozen videos can be considered dance classics, but “Human Nature’s” semi-comedic choreography was the one that acceptably pushed the sexual envelope. “Justify My Love” and “Erotica” were too shocking for TV, but “Human Nature” found the sufficient balance between sadomasochism allusion and dance performance that brought S&M into our living rooms before Rihanna and Lady Gaga were able to bring it to our computer screens.
6. Aaliyah, “Are You That Somebody?”
“Are You That Somebody?” was a sonic breakthrough thanks to it’s ingenious use of sampling, but it’s probably more famous for the Fatima Robinson choreographed video that helped Aaliyah crossover into the mainstream market. Aaliyah’s career transition was personified in the video when her hip hop routine suddenly morphed into an unforgettable flamenco dance break. That was the moment “the Princess of R&B” earned her crown.
5. Janet Jackson, “Rhythm Nation”
Like Madonna, Miss Jackson could have taken up half the spots on this list, but her visuals for the title track off her 1989 album is her dance video magnum opus. Her fusing of hip hop moves and military precision set in an industrial landscape was dark, intricate, and mesmerizing. “Rhythm Nation” set the bar for all future female dance videos to live up to.
4. OK Go, “Here It Goes Again”
Chicago-based pop band OK Go reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart only once in their career. This achievement is mostly due to the insanely creative choreography in the video for the third single off 2005’s Oh No. “Here It Goes Again” is 3 minutes of accuracy and synergy that somehow both expanded and minimalized Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” concept. No special effects. No slick edits. Just four guys magically moving across, over, and under treadmills. Going to the gym has never been this much fun.
3. Fatboy Slim, “Weapon of Choice”
The Spike Jonze directed video for “Weapon of Choice” is set in some weird, post-apocalyptic world where all of humanity has been destroyed save for a super-powered Christopher Walken who gains strength by dancing. Watching a 58 year old Walken spin, kick, and float his way through an empty hotel is a testament that dance isn’t just for the young, but for the young of hea
2. Beyoncé, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
Yo Christopher, I’m really happy for you and I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best dance videos of all time. OF ALL TIME. 3 ladies dressed in leotards dance against a plain, white background. Doesn’t sound like anything special, but Bey’s Bob Fosse-inspired performance managed to take that simple idea and create both a pop culture standard and an artistic masterpiece.
1. Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal”
Despite barring “Thriller” from the list, Michael Jackson still reigns as the “King of Choreo”. Like most of Jackson’s visuals, “Smooth Criminal” is more like a mini-movie than just a music video. In fact, the original cut was a pivotal scene in the anthology film Michael Jackson: Moonwalker. Watching the King of Pop methodically dance his way through a 1920’s club full of flappers and gangsters was brilliant in itself, but add in an interpretive dance sequence, a young Brandon Adams giving his best MJ impersonation, and the famed anti-gravity lean, and you have the greatest example of dazzling choreography this side of “Thriller”.
Usher, “You Don’t Have To Call”
From the Risky Business underwear slide, to the pre-club car bounce, to the unexpected Heelys reveal, “YDHTC” took a minimalistic approach that still shines.
Shakira, “She Wolf”
We all know Shakira’s hips don’t lie, but when she tapped into her animalistic nature for “She Wolf,” she proved her other body parts have a lot to say as well.
BET deemed that “Ride” was too steamy for their network, but over 40 million viewers took to YouTube to catch Ci-Ci’s provocative solo routine.