Iconic 90s Music Videos


The 1990s were a great time for the music video format. Technology exploded along with radio hits and made for some pretty memorable imagery to accompany your favorite songs of the decade. Some videos were so iconic that they could define an entire genre of music and era of youth, such as Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit," featuring angst-ridden youths headbanging while their would-be elder is reduced to sweeping up after them.

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana


We also had some similarly memorable videos that didn’t quite define a generation, but were guaranteed to be referenced for the duration of ours, such as Sir Mix-A-Lot’s rotund dance platforms in "Baby Got Back" or our first exposure to parkour in "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys.

"Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot   "Sabotage" by Beastie Boys

Fashion was also affected by music videos: MC Hammer’s pants in "U Can’t Touch This" and the schoolgirl outfits in "Baby One More Time" by then-teenage Britney Spears. Speaking of teenagers, who could forget Hanson and their infectious "MMMBop" video that featured three fresh-faced brothers running around like three fresh-faced young boys will.

"U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer   "Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears   "MMMBop" by Hanson

On the more serious side, the water-silhouetted ladies of TLC imparted life lessons in "Waterfalls" while REM got artistic–and downright weird–in their pseudo-theological video for "Losing My Religion." Green Day’s "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" tugged at heartstrings with profiles of everyday people, but when a nurse on NBC’s "ER" sang it to a dying boy in a finale episode, it stole the show.

"Waterfalls" by TLC   "Losing My Religion" by REM   "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day

The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ video for "Under the Bridge" utilized some basic camera tricks such as superimposition, but no cinematic finery was as sexually suggestive as Fiona Apple’s "Criminal." However, Jamiroquai inarguably took the cake for special effects with his video for "Virtual Insanity," which showcased moving scenery and some really impressive choreography.

"Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers   "Criminal" by Fiona Apple   "Virtual Insanity" by Jamiroquai

The 90s produced some pretty big blockbusters, but the highlights of many were their soundtracks–and the montage music videos that incorporated scenes from the theatrical releases. "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston (The Bodyguard), "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion (Titanic), and "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls (City of Angels) all fall into this category. "I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith (Armageddon) has the creepiest of movie collages, however, when singer Steven Tyler is superimposed in place of his Armageddon star daughter’s love interest in the music video.

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston   "Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls

Other videos from the decade took absurdity to a new level, whether telling a story or not. Beck’s "Loser" had dancers, demons and leafblowers. "The Way" by Fastball utilized an intense high-saturation color filter and followed the band on a bizarro car ride. Marcy Playground’s video for "Sex and Candy" was about as close as we’ll ever get to a lovechild between Dr. Seuss and Van Gogh, complete with spiders and spotlights.

"Loser" by Beck   "The Way" by Fastball   "Sex and Candy" by Marcy Playground

Other unforgettable 90s video moments include the worst hairstyle in history in "Fly" by Sugar Ray, the unapologetic portrayal of white trash life in "My Name Is" by Eminem, the choreographed English charm of "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, the overwhelming about of peaches in "Peaches" by the Presidents of the United States of America, the seizure-inducing party we all wanted to be a part of in "Insane in the Brain" by Cypress Hill, and a sexily beached Christina Aguilera in "Genie in a Bottle."

"My Name Is" by Eminem   "Wannabe" by Spice Girls   "Genie in a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera

Did we miss your favorite music video or is it listed above? Vote for your favorite 90s video at right to let us know.


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90s Music Videos
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