Music fans love their music videos. And wow, have they come a long way! Of course something even more amazing than the products themselves is the price to produce them. Here is a list of 10 of the most expensive music videos ever made.
01 – Britney Spears,Work B*@#! (2013) — $6.5 million
Britney knows how to put on a show, an expensive show. From the choreography to the sharks in color-changing water, Britney’s team pulled out all the stops. And what could possibly top blowing up a bunch of mannequins? A white Lamborghini, perhaps? Yep, this video had one of those as well!
02 – Michael & Janet Jackson, Scream (1995) – $7 Million
The most expensive music video ever made (its inflation adjusted price is close to $11 million!). And who else other than Michael and Janet, two very extravagant artist siblings, can spend so much on a few minutes displaying them both on a spaceship set? At least it had won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video.
03 – Guns N’ Roses, Estranged (1993) — $4 million
For this ballad director Andy Morahan actually filmed a 10 minute montage of live concert clips intertwined with high action: a SWAT team chase, near ocean suicide, and a rescue by dolphins (??). Apparently if you want to use a U.S. Coast Guard chopper and rescue squad, an oil tanker, and an Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft, it’s gonna cost you. And that’s before all the special effects.
04- Michael Jackson, Black or White (1991)
Back in 1991 the special effects used in this John Landis video were considered revolutionary. A morphing Tyra Banks as well as a black panther transforming into MJ contributed to a final whopping cost of $300K per minute for this 11-minute video. We’re not sure what Macaulay Culkin was paid for his spot in the video, but at the end of the day this became the then highest-rated Fox special which means advertisers were happy and albums were sold; nothing else matters.
05 – Mariah Carey ft. Jay-Z, Heartbreaker (1999) — $2.5 million
Jay-Z could not actually be in this video due to scheduling issues, so Rush Hour director Brett Ratner incorporated special animations instead. Mariah called the final product “really cute.” More like really pricey. The movie theater alone where Mariah confronts the cheating Jay-Z and his girl cost $100,000 to rent.
06 – Puff Daddy, Victory (1998) — $2.7 million
We love it when musicians try to emulate action stars. Marcus Nispel directed P. Diddy as if he were Arnold Schwarzenegger in the the sci-fi thriller The Running Man. With a series of appearances by the likes of Busta Rhymes, Dennis Hopper and Danny DeVito along with an airplane, helicopter and of course the unavoidable pyrotechnics, this music video made it easily onto our list.
07 – Celine Dion, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now (1996) — $2.3 million
Nigel Dick took only four days to shoot this video in an array of locations in the beautiful Czech Republic. Aside from the images of fire, gusts of wind, and motorcycles, it was the grandiose Ploskovice Castle which really wowed. That along with the ghostly special effects of Dion and her dead lover. Beautiful, eery, and costly.
08 – Busta Rhymes, What’s It Gonna Be?! (1999) — $2.4 million
Transforming from a liquid into a knight in shining armor is apparently very pricey. Director Hype Williams made Busta Rhymes’ magical transformation possible. It was this and multiple other effects which put this video on the Guinness World Record list for using the most expensive music video special effects. The coolest of all? Tiny 3D versions of Busta the Knight falling as raindrops around Janet Jackson who also featured in the piece.
09 – Backstreet Boys, Larger Than Life (1999) — $2.1 million
Apparently director Joseph Kahn had really wanted to be the man behind the camera on the set of Transformers or some other sci-fi adventure. This video features robots, cryogenic chambers, and other sci-fi imagery for an outer space saga meant to thrill fans along with the music. As an example of the cost of the effects involved, at one point band member Brian Littrell is shown doing flips on a flying surfboard; this bit of magic itself cost around $90K.
10 – MC Hammer, 2 Legit 2 Quit (1991) — $2.5 million
Travel around the country capturing cameos from a slew of star athletes, fly James Brown from his prison via private jet for his appearance, throw in a bunch of other inefficiencies, and you are certain to have a high-priced video. Apparently, this 18-day shoot took 30 days due to all the breaks, delays and time off which seriously spiked production costs. And James Brown had to spend a couple extra days in Las Vegas? How did he get out of prison for this in the first place?!