Music videos have been a thing for decades now. Every even slightly popular single gets a music video, and the most popular ones are constantly being shown on music channels with millions of people watching. With such an audience of raving fans, it’s no wonder that lots of money is dumped into music videos. Whether it’s travelling to exotic locations, renting expensive villas and cars or the CGI effects, thousands of dollars are used in developing a music videos.
But there are some artists that went over the top and a bit more, when it comes to spending money on a music video. Today we’re taking a look at the top 10 most expensive music videos ever done. We’ll be listing both the price at the time of production, as well as today’s, inflation-adjusted price. Without further ado, let’s check them out.
10) Mariah Carey – Heartbreaker ($2,5 million / $3,55 million)
We’re opening the list with Mariah Carey’s hit from 1999. “Heartbreaker“, the lead single from Carey’s seventh studio album, talks about a love relationship from her perspective (hence the name). In 1999, $2,5 million dollars were invested into the music video, which is the equivalent of $3,55 million today. Most of the video features Mariah singing and dancing, with Jay-Z chiming in from time to time, represented by an animated avatar, interestingly enough. The song hit number one spot on Billboard’s Top 100 a week after it was released. Obviously, Mariah Carey performed the song many times during her live shows, as it is was one of the fan favorites.
9) Puff Daddy – Victory ($2,7 million / $3,9 million)
Puff Daddy, Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes have all worked together to produce Victory, a popular mafioso-style rap song from 1998. Almost $4 million today’s US dollars were invested into the 8-minute music video, featuring Puff Daddy and Busta Rhymes. Notorious B.I.G died a year prior to the release of the music video, so he wasn’t in it. As a matter of fact, B.I.G’s last verses ever were recorded for this song. He died shortly after, in 1997.
8) Gwen Stefani – Make Me Like You ($4 million)
Unlike others on this list, no inflation adjustments have to be made for this video. Why? Because the video was released only a few months back. Gwen Stefani’s Make Me Like You had over 250 people working on it, and the production costs were no less than $4 million. The video is acclaimed by critics and fans alike and currently has 12,5 million views on YouTube.
7) MC Hammer – 2 Legit 2 Quit ($2,5 million / $4,21 million)
MC Hammer invested the same amount of money as Carey into one of his music videos, but he did it 8 years before Mariah Carey did, so his $2,5 million is worth $4,2 million today, putting him at number 7 on our list. The 15 minutes long music video didn’t do so well popularity-wise. It was featured on many lists that a music video doesn’t want to be featured in such as World’s Worst Ever Videos, Forgotten Video Clips and 25 Lame countdown. The song however did hit few top lists in the first few weeks.
6) Guns N’ Roses – Estranged ($4 million / $6,5 million)
Took long enough for Axl and his band to get on the list. At number 6 we have Guns N’ Roses’ 1994 single Estranged with a music video worth $6,5 million, adjusted for inflation. The music video is over 9 minutes long, and is very well-known among the fans. Estranged is GNR‘s 2nd longest song, right after Coma. The music video is the 3rd piece of the trilogy, after Don’t Cry and November Rain. Its style is very similar to the previous two videos.
5) Michael Jackson – Black Or White ( $4 million / $6,9 million)
And finally, here comes Michael Jackson. Don’t tell us you didn’t expect to see the king of pop in this list, we know you did. His Black or White music videos was worth $4 million in 1991, which is almost $7 million today. And with such a high amount, MJ takes the 5th spot. During its 27-country-wide premier, around 500 million people watched the video. That would be number one on another list, by a large margin. The music video is one of the most controversial ones ever aired. It’s been cut and censored multiple times on various platforms.
4) Madonna – Bedtime Story ($5 million / $7 million)
Madonna’s Bedtime Story is often called an underrated song that should’ve been way more popular. The song actually did reach a fair amount of popularity, hitting multiple top lists, but most critics believe that it should’ve been way more popular. The music video however, was very acclaimed, being permanently displayed in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Whether that was worth 7 million today’s USD…well, you decide on that.
3) Madonna – Die Another Day ($6,1 million / $8 million)
And Madonna makes her second appearance, spending a whole million more than on her previous music video. Die Another Day was produced and released in 2002, and is the theme song of a James Bond film with the same name. The song was a huge commercial hit, topping the lists all across the globe. The music video is known for its high-production value and certain controversies it caused. All of that for a sum of just 8 million dollars!
2) Madonna – Express Yourself ($5 million / $9,5 million)
Yup, Madonna again, this time really outdoing herself with a music video worth almost $10,000,000. During the time of its release (1989) it was the most expensive music video in the world, at $5 million. And even today, few decades later, it’s still going strong because it’s the world’s second most expensive music video ever produced! Both the song and the video were huge hits, topping the charts and being played over and over again on music channels.
1) Michael Jackson – Scream ($7 million / $10,8 million)
Michael Jackson appears for the second time in the list, this time taking the number one spot, with a music video that is today worth almost $11 million. Most of the budget went into the CGI, that isn’t all that impressive today, honestly. However, keep in mind that the video was produced in 1995. Michael sang the song with his younger sibling Janet, another popular musician who also appeared in the music video with him.
MJ’s Thriller, one of his best known songs and music videos didn’t make the list, but was quite expensive nonetheless. Adjusted for inflation, the music video is priced at $2,6 million.
David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes music video was the first one to ever cross the $500,000 mark. It did that in 1980.
Janet Jackson is the current leader when it comes to expensive (>$500,000) music videos. She has six of them!