MTV Masterpieces

10 music videos that changed everything

Above: Michael Jackson, Thriller

BY: Michael Perris and Liz MacDonald

When MTV first launched in 1981, it was a small experimental cable channel airing to a limited market in New York and New Jersey. But almost immediately, MTV’s music videos transformed the music industry—and with each coming decade, this art form has continued to evolve, still thriving today in the age of Netflix, YouTube and Snapchat. We’ve collected our favorite examples of MTV’s finest efforts above and below, the best boundary-breaking music videos from 1980s through the 2000s. 

Kanye West: Famous


Beyoncé: Sorry


David Bowie: Lazarus


Sia: The Greatest


Lady Gaga: Bad Romance


Eminem: My Name Is


Britney Spears: …Baby One More Time


The Police: Every Breath You Take


Madonna: Like a Prayer