Having Chris Robinson direct your music video is just as sought after as a Timbaland beat. The popular director has captured on-screen moments with everyone from Alicia Keys (“Fallin'”) to Jay-Z and Beyoncé (“’03 Bonnie & Clyde”) to R. Kelly (“Number One”). We asked the man behind the lens to pick his five favorite music videos of all-time. Find out which made the final cut.
Michael Jackson – “Thriller”
Everybody says “Thriller,” right? I’ve got to do it. It was off the chain, definitely. It was the dialogue mixed with the idea of it being a horror film. What [director] John Landis did was amazing. Everything about that video was groundbreaking, from the dance to the choreography to the way the film looked. The way that they rolled it out, it would be on network television. They would say, “‘Thriller’ will be on ABC at 8 o’clock.” It was monumental.
Jay-Z feat. UGK – “Big Pimpin'”
The thing about it was the song and the moment that we were in during that summer of the ’90s, and being able to see that yacht and those guys having fun was inspirational. You wanted to emulate that. I think when you talk about aspirational videos when an audience sees something, what Hype [Williams] created with that and what Jay-Z did, it was amazing. It embodied everything. You can’t have any more fun than that, so it was one of my favorites.
Peter Gabriel – “Sledgehammer”
This might be a little old school and obscure. That video is just like, get out of here. Being a filmmaker, thinking how they created that and the intricacies of creating that, was just amazing. I still watch that to this day trying to figure that out. In my career, I want to do something as intricate and brilliant as that.
Madonna – “Bad Girl”
Christopher Walken played the Angel of Death in this one. I have an affinity for telling a story, and I think that that video was crazy. This girl who’s looking for love in all the wrong places, kind of an homage to Mr. Goodbar, and Christopher Walken is sitting in there with a cigarette up in a tree, and she sees her own death and he passes her a cigarette. It was a dope, dope narrative.
Public Enemy – “Night of the Living Baseheads”
Crazy. The newscast that stopped in the middle. Chuck D and Flavor Flav.
–Steven J. Horowitz