The Video Stars: DANCE Vids

I have been waiting and waiting for this.  I still have one more category to go after today, but I have been anticipating this particular group of ten videos more than any others.  Here are the top 10 dance music videos of all time:

10.  Runaway - Kanye West, 2010Directed by Fredrico Fellini & Stanley Kubrick.

Why yes, I am one of those who think Kanye will get the Grammy nod this year for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but that's not the point.  This video is strikingly beautiful in its juxtoposition of ballet dancers, warehouse setting, and Kanye's rap, yet everything works more than anything the rest of us could have imagined.  By far the most noteworthy excerpt from the full-length film.  If you do still want to watch the whole thing, you can watch it here.

9.  Like a Boy - Ciara, 2006Directed by Diane Martel.

The choreography is great, but that's not even why it's here.  Sure, Ciara isn't the only woman to ever try to use a music video to question gender roles, but here she plays both parts incredibly well, always looks super fly, and shows off her moves, which are as smooth as ever in this vid.  I think we also get a kick out of watching Ciara grab her crotch and kiss her biceps. 

8.  Vogue - Madonna, 1990Directed by David Fincher.

Perhaps I should have warned you, there is something about a black and white dance video, because this is clearly not the first and certainly won't be the last.  The dance in this video is subtle, because Vogue is all about the relationship between style, grace, and attitude.  But it is indeed a dance, and has inspired many partiers throughout the following decades to "strike a pose" whenever the moment deems it appropriate.

7.  Alright - Janet Jackson, 1990Directed by Julien Temple. 

In the style of a 50's musical, we get to watch Janet have fun dancing around an old-school New York in a pinstripe suit.  Madonna got to do Dick Tracy that year, and perhaps Janet got jealous and made this video?  I dunno, but "Alright" is proving to stand the test of time, and even being referenced by other younger dancers like Usher (at 1:35 in this Janet tribute) and Chris Brown in Yeah 3x.

6.  Tightrope - Janelle Monae, 2010Directed by Wendy Morgan.

Perhaps I should have also warned you of the number of women in suits that appear on this list!  Janelle Monae (if you don't know her, here's a blog I posted earlier this year) is a genius, and her feet are full of magic.  As for the video, it has a great story, the production is perfect, and it makes us want to dance just like Janelle Monae, although most of us can't because of my previous sentence. 

5.  Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO, 2011.  Directed by Mickey Finnegan.

I'm positive this is the only video from this year I'll have in any of my lists.  I've hummed and hawed over it; how can we possibly know if this will stand the test of time?  I guess we can't, and at the rate that many of us are watching it, there will likely come a time when we are so sick of shuffling.  However, I'm not there yet, and this video has a hilarious concept, and some truly great hipster dancing... which until PRA, I had thought was an oxymoron.

 4.  Lose Control - Missy Elliott feat. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop, 2005.  Directed by Dave Meyers.

This video reminds me of reminds me of a video game the way it finds itself in 5 distinct settings as if they are levels to achieve.  Each one is full of stark and surprising visuals that incorporate some truly phenomenal dancing.  Besides, even in real life the combination of Missy and Ciara is one of my faves to dance to!

3.  Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Beyonce, 2008Directed by Jake Nava.

This has become the "R.E.S.P.E.C.T." of music videos; it is one of the most parodied videos of late; although attempted by many the dance is actually really difficult; and the whole thing - although Beyonce and her dancers are scantily clad - comes off as incredibly classy.  It's because of this that "Single Ladies" has been elevated to legendary status.

 2.  Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson, 1986.  Directed by Colin Chilvers.

Although we don't understand what's going on (even in the context of Moonwalker - the film for which Smooth Criminal is the climax) we can't help but be sucked in to the general action of gangsters in a nightclub.  Not only is it full of drama and intrigue and costume and swagger, but the quintessential Jackson moves that, for most of us, define our pop King.

1.  Rhythm Nation - Janet Jackson, 1989.  Directed by Dominic Sena.

The only person in the world that could beat MJ in a music video contest is his sister.  Choreographed by Anthony Thomas (who also choreographed "Alright") this video uses a harsh militant routine that fits with the song and setting of an abandoned warehouse, and shows off Janet dancing unlike she ever has before (or after for that matter).  With the very short exception of some solo dance moments, the group is always dancing together in tight formation to a street style that seems as though it musically and physically demonstrates what a true rhythm nation could be.  Or perhaps it's just a lot of fun to dress up and look tough.  Either way, I'm sold.  Although it sounds crazy cheesy, and I know nostalgia is probably working against me, this video still has the power to inspire hope and desire for a better world.  If you could stomach more of me praising JJ's Rhythm Nation, here's my blog devoted to the whole album.

Happy Dancing!

PS. I can't not mention the runner up for this list, because it was so hard to leave out.  Another video by Wendy Morgan, this time for Gnarles Barkley's "Going On".  Check it out if you have time and space to move in your seat.  My other difficult choices in case you're interested, were MJ's Bad and Daft Punk's Around the World