Though we are far removed from the music video heyday of MTV’s golden years, they still play a large part in both the style and image of an artist. Whether it’s to explain and visualise the lyrical content or have absolutely nothing in common with it, music videos help the audience relate to the artist through a whole other medium than their music. However, some videos can even become more memorable than the songs themselves due to their creepy symbolism, crazy storylines or downright wacky visuals. While of course rock is not the only home of crazy music videos, it definitely seems like it’s had more than its fair share of strange over the years. Let’s look at some, shall we?
10 – Soundgarden: Black Hole Sun
Those faces. Oh god, make it stop. While not the most disturbing video on our list by a long shot, more, Soundgarden did a wonderful job of producing an uncomfortable atmosphere throughout their 1994 single. While the opening few seconds are pleasant enough, there is an obvious strange hue over everything, making the landscape yellower and the sky a worrying red colour.
Then come some of the most unnerving smiles ever put to film, made even worse by the occasional low budget effects work extending them even larger. Add that to the sheer amount of forced eye contact with most of said faces that makes you feel like they are boring into your very soul and this is definitely one to prepare for mentally before watching. All of this is set to a typical American suburb that forms the backdrop for an impending cataclysm, how lovely. But no wonder the video is so weird when Chris Cornell has even stated on numerous occasions that the lyrics are a jumbled mess of word play with no real context or story behind them!
9 – Foo Fighters: Long Road to Ruin
While there are a multitude of incredible Foo Fighters videos to choose from, this one feels like it came at Dave Grohl’s creative peak. An on the nose rib (Or maybe more a love letter to) the cheesy hospital dramas of the 90s, it sees the band all in fancy dress yet again, though this time alongside Parks and Rec alumni Rashida Jones. Filled with all the expected overacting and silliness, it follows a mustache-sporting Grohl from daytime TV actor to rockstar before concluding with a literal car crash. This is among the best of the silly side of music, a style that Foo Fighters do so well with almost every video they make.
8 – Nivana: Heart Shaped Box
Two consecutive entries onto this list from Mr Grohl. He’s either doing something very right or very wrong! Now, where to even begin with this video. Between what one can only assume is Jesus wearing a Santa’s hat being crucified in a field of poppies, a lady dressed in a muscle suit and angel wings and even just Kurt Cobain’s odd facial expressions down the camera, this video makes you uneasy from start to finish.
However, what makes this even more disturbing is the fact that it came just three months before the singer unfortunately took his own life, giving us an insight into just how he was feeling and what was going on in his mind leading up to the devastating event. He had even dedicated the song to then wife Courtney Love and, upon hearing the lyrics, it definitely adds fuel to the conspiracy surrounding the two of them. I mean, all of that AND crows that sing, what more can you have in a creepy video!
7 – Rammstein: Sonne
Another band whose videos are becoming the stuff of legend; German industrial metal band Rammstein heaped on the weird with their 2001 single. Beginning with the band members working down in an industrial mine, it appears innocent enough. However, once they are home and sat around the dinner table an enormous version of Snow White steps through the door, and it only gets worse from there. By the end of it, it has turned far away from the kid’s movie and more like a Brother’s Grim tale, it getting to an almost sexual level in its depiction of a mistress, spanking and all.
Assumedly there is some meaning behind it; it is hard to focus on trying to see said meaning while a giant, naughty Snow White is prancing about. While it’s a fantastic song and video, it does leave you willing for it to be over by the end. Heck, the video is even age restricted, so that should say it all!
6 – Avatar: Colossus
The most recently released entry to our list, Swedish metal band Avatar are also no stranger to oddness. Their theatrics from their stage shows carry forward to their videos, wearing the same medieval style clothing and singer johannes eckerström keeping up his signature jester face paint. He opens the video by making a speech about the soul and free will, and it only gets stranger from there.
The band continue to backdrop the video, playing in the form of a hologram cut to every so often. The main crux of the video, however, focuses on a robot, one built in the image of a human but only from the waist up, attached to a crane to help it move. Said robot is being tasked over and over with trying to construct a mechanism within a time limit, constantly failing even after being given strange incentives. I’m sure there’s plenty of metaphors to read from this, but in terms of weird videos it’s definitely up there!
5 – Marilyn Manson: Dope Show
All controversy aside, this list wouldn’t be complete without him. While, again, there were plenty of options to choose from real name Bryan Warner, Dope Show seems to encapsulate everything his often terrifying alter-ego stands for in just a few short minutes. Manson kitted out with bright red hair, nipple-less breasts and an Action-Man crotch; being treated like an alien, captured and experimented on in a place eerily reminiscent of movies’ depictions of Area 51, this video definitely starts off odd. However, it is later on, when that same creature is then treated like a celebrity by the wider public after becoming a Manson-mirroring rock frontman that this video really takes a jump towards crazy. More metaphors and this time the visuals at least completely reflect the lyrics, but in terms of a video on its own it is certainly odd.
4 – Muse: Knights of Cydonia
Another one that is thankfully weird without being unnerving or creepy. Muse’s clear nod to the campy world of Spaghetti Westerns is six plus minutes of pure awesomeness, and something that wouldn’t look out of place in a Tarantino movie. However, while at the same time as telling the story of betrayal and saving the damsel in distress, it somehow also fits in robots, apparent time travel and a chrome clad woman riding on a unicorn. What more can you really ask for in a music video?
3 – Nine Inch Nails: Closer
Strap in kids, because here is where this list super weird. Trent Reznor is an odd but brilliant man, as demonstrated by a lot of Nine Inch Nails’ music videos. But, maybe none more so than the band’s 1994 single. Horrible images are abundant in this one. Set in what looks like a creepy taxidermy shop there are animal skeletons and decapitated pigs’ heads and all manner of other disgusting visuals. Add that to cuts of Trent, be it in steampunk style goggles or floating and rotating in the air or even tied up and wearing some very questionable leather and you have yourself a massively disturbing music video.
Trent does such a good job of keeping it all minimalistic yet still managing to make it creepy as anything. Heck, at least the lyrics make sense with the video again in this one, as vulgar and intense as they are. Oh, and it’s another age restricted one, sorry!
2 – Avenged Sevenfold: A Little Piece of Heaven
Any video that has a censorship warning at the beginning must be a lot to take in, ey? But boy, does this video live up to that need and massively surpass it. Covering a wide range of disturbing and frankly illegal acts in surprisingly gruesome detail due to the whole video being in an animated form, it is definitely not one for the weak of heart.
Following a man’s decent into lunacy after his girlfriend rejects his marriage proposal, it soon takes a turn into the supernatural with all thing’s hell, zombies and ghosts. And, just to make things even more extreme, the lyrics follow along the storyline exactly. While a masterpiece in terms of creativity and animation (as well as song writing) this video is absolutely nuts, and really brings into question how the video ever got the green light to be made in the first place. Oh, and you also have to question the sanity of the band themselves for writing something so grotesque!
1 – Any Tool Video Ever
Okay so while putting a bands entire music video library in at number 1 maybe be a bit of a cop-out, there really is not just one video you can rank as the weirdest out all of Tool’s collection. With most featuring the creepiest animation style ever, Claymation, and the rare one or two that doesn’t still being animated in some way, there is plenty of weirdness to go around. Songs like Prison Sex, Stinkfist and Schism really turn the craziness up to 11, though, providing fans with a surreal glimpse into their often-deep lyrics and meanings.
The videos are so significant to the songs, in fact, that they are usually played while the band is playing them live at their own shows. If I did have to pick one out of all of them, however, watching those walking mouths run up and attach themselves to the protagonist’s face in the Schism video always makes my skin crawl.
And there we have it! Did we miss any? Let us know on our social medias here and keep an eye out for more lists as it’s so far looking like a biweekly thing!