The 50 Sexiest Music Videos of All Time
From Rihanna to David Bowie, Janet Jackson to Shakira, and Poison to Prince.
by Brian Fairbanks, Alex Heigl, and Alisa MacKay
Since the dawn of the music video, musicians have sought to push the envelope. Michael Jackson made "Thriller," The Cars made "You Might Think," and the Backstreet Boys made "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." But parallel to the ramping up of grandeur and spectacle in music videos, we've seen a parallel arms race... of sexiness. So we're commemorating not the most groundbreaking or expensive videos ever made, but the flat-out hottest, sexiest, doing-the-damn-thing-est videos ever made. You're welcome.
50. Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing in the Dark" (1984)
Springsteen went from nerdy savior of rock-and-roll to full-blown megastar and hunky teen idol with this first video from 1984's Born In The USA. Everyone remembers Courteney Cox's breakthrough performance as "extra #84,206" in this Brian De Palma-directed video, which manages to feel gargantuan and intimate at the same time. The dancing is endearingly goofy, but the sincerity (and tight t-shirts) are for real. — Brian Fairbanks
49. Aerosmith, "Cryin'" (1993)
A timeless tale of an "good girl" on a "bad girl" tear, "Cryin'" has any number of bad-girl sexy moments from Alicia Silverstone, including (but not limited to) punching a guy in the face and stealing his car, getting a terrible, impulsive tattoo, and jump-kicking Sawyer from Lost in the face after he steals her purse. A perfectly '90s mini-movie, so hot it made a movie star out of Silverstone. — B.F.
48. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "Into the Great Wide Open" (1991)
Another classic "road to ruin" video, this one from Tom Petty's "Mad Hatter" period, "Into the Great Wide Open" features the indisputably sexy Johnny Depp channeling his real-life experience as an L.A. rocker-wannabe. Given that Depp has, in recent years, been trying to actively turn into Keith Richards, this video now seems eerily prescient, but at the time, everyone was just concerned with watching that obscenely good-looking guy play guitar and tracking the barrage of fun cameos, including by Terence Trent D'Arby, Faye Dunaway, Chynna Phillips of Wilson Phillips, and Matt LeBlanc. — B.F.
47. Jennifer Lopez, "I'm Glad" (2003)
This Jennifer Beals/Jennifer Lopez hybrid proves to be music-video alchemy. J. Lo's third single may be long forgotten by top-forty radio, but it's hard to forget the video, which features choreography by Jeffrey Hornaday (reprising his work from Flashdance), and of course, Lopez's exhaustingly sexy dance moves. — B.F.
46. Van Halen, "Hot for Teacher" (1984)
Geeky boy unwound by hot female authority figure? Check. High-school boredom alleviated by spontaneous mob mentality? Check. "Hot for Teacher" remains a classic of '80s cheese with a few surprisingly inventive scenes, like the long library-table strut, and the epilogue that tells us, in brilliant '80s-movie fashion, what everyone "went on" to do later. Also, um, a stripping teacher. — B.F.
45. U2, "All I Want is You" (1989)
Possibly the most romantic video on this list, this rarely seen but essential early-MTV staple features a climax (not the sexual kind, unfortunately) in which a little person working as a circus freak appears to kill himself over his impossible love for a trapeze artist. It's a tragic love story elevated by the beautiful visuals and music. — B.F.
44. The Weeknd, "What You Need" (2011)
Hotel room. Hot ladies. Shirtless dude. Girls kissing. Ennui. The perfect recipe for sexy. And, controversial to boot: The Weeknd asked director Cole Walliser to remove the video, but it's still making the rounds, and it's easy to see why. — Alex Heigl
43. N.E.R.D., "Lapdance" (2001)
Pharrell's always had a gangly sexiness about him, and though N.E.R.D. never really took off to the degree the Neptunes did, "Lapdance" remains a sordid, kind of sticky pleasure. The video looks like a Terry Richardson shoot come to life: stark, seamy, and sexy as hell. — A.H.
42. Björk, "Pagan Poetry" (2001)
Björk's personal brand of abstract sexuality is slathered all over this video. We're also big fans of "All Is Full of Love" and "It's Oh So Quiet," each one showcasing the ultimate in lovelorn, weird-girl hotness. — B.F.
41. MSTRKRFT, "Easy Love" (2006)
MSTRKRFT's video for "Easy Love" is sure to color your next trip to Jamba Juice in erotic overtones. It's a clever half-ironic take on videos that employ the sexy buttoned-up-secretary cliché, the straw-between-the-lips closeup and the superfluous use of allegedly alluring fluids. And yet, even with its winking air, we're still turned on. — B.F.