It’s perplexing to think how we’re 20 years removed from 1994. While certain things have drastically changed, so much has stayed the same. The ’90s culture still seems much more prevalent than the ’80s did 20 years later — even if Nirvana’s now considered “classic rock”. For example, Pulp Fiction remains a shocking piece of cinema, critics and fans still obsess over Nas’ triumphant Illmatic, and the Clintons continue to make headlines.
The ease and accessibility of online media certainly helps, especially the finesse of Google and the wealth of content on YouTube. For music fanatics like us, we relish the opportunity in being able to search and destroy any piece of pop culture, and that includes oft-forgotten live performances/bootlegs and, naturally, classic music videos.
Now, music videos from the ’90s are very “of their time.” Today, they’re slick, clever, and meme-worthy to generate enough Internet buzz and radiate with clicks. However, back in 1994, music videos were something that came on unexpectedly. Watching them on MTV was like playing video roulette; you rarely knew what was going to come next.
With that in mind, all of the videos on this list were jarring experiences that made us laugh, cry, cheer, and cower in fear in spontaneously shocking ways. They were groundbreaking for their time, and seemingly served a larger purpose for the band or artist. They weren’t based around gimmicks, but instead, great ideas.
And man did we dig ’em.
10. Snoop Doggy Dogg – “Gin and Juice”
The “giant party in the hood” motif was pretty played out by 1994. Dr. Dre had done it, Wu-Tang had done it, and we hipped and we hopped, but the parties seemed to stay the same (hell, Kid and Play even got a franchise). That was until Snoop Dogg came in and changed the game with “Gin and Juice”. Snoop stars as a bratty version of himself, whose parents decide to leave town while sitting in the living room drinking 40s. He then throws the party of the year at their house, complete with dancing, the song’s signature drink, and a guest appearance by Dr. Dre (who comes through “with a gang of Tanqueray”). All these other rappers had parties for their music videos, but no party appeared more fun and upbeat than Snoop’s “Gin and Juice,” which is why that song will be played on the dance floor until we are six feet under. –Ted Maider
09. Mazzy Star – “Fade Into You”
Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” was distinct for the way it mixed twangy, sun-kissed folk with sultry dream pop. And in the song’s video, we get the visual representation of both these sounds juxtaposed with each other. In one frame, there’s the sprawling desert seen from the window of a traveling car, and in the next, there’s lead singer Hope Sandoval and her bandmates all bathed in a shade of Lynchian-blue light on an otherwise empty stage. “You go in shadows,” croons Sandoval, illuminated by the bright, ethereal shine. You want to stay and linger for awhile. But with a cut back to the desert, we’re reminded that the trip presses on. As Frank Booth says, “Let’s hit the fuckin’ road.” –Dean Essner