I am an online writer who's articles focus primarily on the music industry.
Continuing from my article 50 Sexiest Music Videos of the 80s, these were the first three decades of my adulthood, which just happened to be the first three decades of MTV, and the first three decades when music videos were mainstream. As explained in the previous article, I am not basing my picks of the top 50 on chart performance or popularity of the video itself. But on one simple criteria. Did either the recording artist or video vixen, do or wear something, that had me fantasizing about her in that video long after it had aired. Once again all fifty are presented in chronological order of their broadcast air date and not ranked in any order.
Janet Jackson - Love Will Never Do ( Without You )
This was the second music video fashion photographer Herb Ritts directed, the first being Madonna's Cherish and the third being Chris Isaaks Wicked Games. Ritts knew how to make women look sexy without looking trashy. And Janet Jackson never looked better than she did in this video. Wearing what would be considered tame in 1990, a tankini top and jeans, Janet didn't really do anything in the video one would consider sexy. Yet Ritts used his magic to make the video seem sexier than what most female artist were releasing.
Divinyls - I Touch Myself
Here is another case of a music video amplifying the attractiveness of a recording artist. Lead singer of the Divinyls Chrissy Amphlett was not what you would call model worthy. With a face that would look more in place on a prizefighter, and appearing to be 20 years older than her actual age due to years of drug and alcohol abuse, she never the less often wore sexy outfits on stage. While her looks were perfect for a lead singer of a hard rock band, they were not good enough for record executives who by that time wanted all their recording artist to be sex symbols. The video for I Touch Myself is a masterpiece of rapid editing, sexy poses, outfits that drew ones attention to the chest area and away from the face, and a lot of filters that softened her face. The video has you believing you are watching a super model in her 20s rather than someone who looked like a sailor in his 50s. An illusion only broken by MTV News which insisted on interviewing Amphlett, and running the interview during their hourly news update.
Cathy Dennis - Just Another Dream ( Version #2 )
As I mentioned in the 80s article, I found fully clothed women getting their clothing wet very sexy. A girl wearing clothing and jumping into a pool of water worked the best, but a girl getting soaked in a rainstorm worked almost as well. Cathy Dennis' video for Just Another Dream did a great job of teasing a soaking that never happens. Someone had invented an apparatus that shot a stream of water in sheet form in any direction, creating an instant wall of moving water. The director of the video for just another dream had Cathy standing right next to a sheet of water shot at an angle that was just inches from her. While the only part of her that actually comes in contact with the water was her hands, she seductively dances near it, with both her chest and crotch practically touching it. Even when standing in between two sheets of moving water, Cathy vogues and gyrates without getting wet. As frustrating as this was, the constant tease was incredibly sexy.
Sheena Easton - What Comes naturally
I also mentioned in the 80s article my attraction to glossy outfits like leather. Vinyl was far more glossy so far more attractive. And was still hardly used in videos, usually because only specific lighting would allow the Vinyl's gloss to register when being filmed. Without proper lighting, a vinyl raincoat in a video would look no different than wool. The director for What Comes Naturally decided the complicated lighting was worth the trouble, and among the outfits Sheena wears in this video is a trench style black vinyl raincoat with a black babushka wrapped around a beehive updo. Add to that a pair of cat eye sunglasses. It is a very sexy ensemble which is sadly just barely on screen. The video constantly cross cuts to Sheena singing in various outfits, and the editor chose to pick that outfit to have the shortest and most infrequent clips.
Paula Abdul - Promise Of A New Day
In the two months since Paula Abdul had shot the video for Rush Rush, she had put on weight. Exactly how much weight is in question, as her record label covered it up. The one video shot when she was at her heaviest was Promise of a New Day. Paul's original concept was to shoot it entirely in Hawaii. However, instead of Paula going to Hawaii, the director, crew and backup dancers went instead, and shot most of the video. Paula shot her part of the video on a closed soundstage and was blue screened into the Hawaiian footage. The reason given, that she had prior commitments. Although it was more likely the record label simply didn't want her out in public. Since they were already using special effects to put Paula into the Hawaiian footage, the record label decided to also see what they could do to make Paula look thinner. The video was oddly compressed, optically squeezing the video so everyone looked taller. People immediately grew suspicious, and rumors of Paul's weight spread like wildfire. Paula would publicly emerge two months later, presumably after exercising and crash dieting the entire time, at the MTV Video Awards, where she was still a lot plumper than we remembered her. Despite everything going on behind the scenes of this video, she was blue screened into some waterfalls, which also required a torrent of water poured onto her at the set. This, combined with a too brief shot of her in a black gown while standing waist deep in a pool of water, made this an exceptionally good wet video. Shame she wasn't in Hawaii to film the real thing.
Mitsou - Dis-Moi, Dis-Moi
In 1990 Madonna once again created a controversy with her graphic video for Justify My Love. Predictably MTV, MuchMusic and Friday Night Videos refused to air it without a few minor edits to remove the brief nudity. Maddona press released that her newest video was banned, then offered it for sale as a five minute video single. The news media began covering the controversy, and subsequently airing the video in its entirety as part of the story. A year later a French-Canadian pop singer named Mitsou decided she could make a name for herself by repeating the same stunt. The video for Dis Moi, Dis Moi didn't just have nude backup dancers as Madonna's video did, but Mitsou herself was nude. Almost entirely while sitting backwards in a chair while it's backrest covered her parts. But occasionally she was topless beneath a clear plastic raincoat while spraying herself under a shower nozzle. Dis Moi, Dis Moi was not meant to be released as a single in the United States, but only to the French speaking citizens of Canada. After Entertainment Tonight did a segment about the video, it was picked up by The Box. The channel had begun as the Video Jukebox Network in 1985, and allowed viewers to request which video was played next. By the 90s it had become a pay service, where viewers called a phone number that charged a fee to their phone bill, after which they used the keypad to select a video. When MTV rejected Justify My Love, The Box added it to their channel, making millions from the requests. They saw the same potential in Dis Moi, Dis Moi, so it ended up airing across America wherever there was a local The Box channel.
Sarah McLachlan - Into The Fire
Another Canadian singer to shoot a video completely nude was Sarah Mclachlan, although she was going more for artistic expression. The video had her lying in the middle of a mud puddle, completely covered in mud including her entire head and hair, and completely nude. One arm draped across her chest to hide her upper nudity, and her pelvis twisted sideways so than neither her front or back end are in line of view. If Sara was looking for controversy, she failed. As far as MTV was concerned, her music was alternative, so the video only aired on 120 Minutes, their Sunday Night alternative video show that aired after 12 midnight. So who cared if she was a little nude. It would get primetime airplay on both MTV and VH1 a few years later when Sara began having top 40 hits.
Belinda Carlisle - Do You Feel Like I Feel?
A lot of videos made my list solely for the singer wearing an outfit or item of clothing I found attractive. In retrospect, a lot of those videos barely showed the singer in the sexy outfit. Directors were fond of shooting way too much footage, and then editing it all down to the 4 minute run time of the video. There was almost always a lot of cross cutting with the singer in different outfits and on different sets or locations. Often the outfit I liked was on screen for a half second each time the video cut to her wearing it. Not so with this video. Belinda wears the same black vinyl minidress through the whole thing.
Martika - Coloured Kisses
Martika's career was depressingly short. Perhaps the best pop song of the 90s was Toy Soldier, which she wrote about a boyfriend who was suffering from drug addiction. We were looking forward to seeing what else she could write. But then came the 90s. Martika had been lumped in with the late 80s teen queens Debbie Gibson, Tiffany and Kylie Minogue. In 1989 Tiffany got bad press when she was cast as Judy Jetson in Jetsons: The Movie. It had reunited the original voice cast of the 1960s series, among which George O'Hanlon who voiced George Jetson, and Mel Blank who voiced Mr Spacely, died shortly after their parts were recorded. The original Judy Jetson, Janet Waldo, had been in the cast, with Tiffany hired to be Judy Jetson's singing voice in a couple of songs. But her management insisted Tiffany record all of Judy Jetson's lines, so Waldo was replaced. News broke out about Tiffany getting Waldo fired from what would be the final Jetsons reunion, and radio stations retaliated by refusing to play her newest singles. The anti Tiffany backlash soon spread to the rest of the 80s teen queens in 1990. Martika had one final hit with the first single off her second album before her career plummeted. Out of all the 80s teen queens, the only survivor was Kylie Minogue, who continued to get airplay in her native Australia, and eventually climbed back to be the biggest female popstar in the world. Except for America where MTV and radio stations continued to refuse to play her new music. The video for the third single off Martika's second album, Color Kisses, got very minimal airplay on MTV. A shame as the now 20 year old singer made one last desperate attempt to save her career with a very sexy video. We are talking nude in a milk bath sexy. She was not the first or last pop star to do a nude milk bath video, but the one who did it best, splashing around with the milk coming dangerously close to exposing her chest, and often draping herself over the side of the tub with her privates just barely concealed.
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En Vogue - My Lovin ( You're Never Gonna Get It )
Female pop group En Vogue upped their sex appeal with this video. This is another one I can't explain why I liked so much as the group would release identical videos after, but just another video where the performance was the key ingredient. The mini dresses that came right up to just below the crotch didn't hurt.
Cathy Dennis - You Lied To Me
As you recall Cathy Dennis had teased with a video where she vogued right next to a stream of running water without getting wet. Two years later she made up for it. The set of this video was of a loft, with Cathy singing in her bedroom before walking down a spiral staircase to the flooded lower level. Perhaps the reason for the foot of water was that the lower level had a freestanding shower which Cathy turns on and immediately begins showering in her gown. There was no buildup to this. No sooner did you see her wading through the foot of water when the shower turns up out of nowhere. But a very welcome surprise. Her first album was very successful, resulting in four top ten hits. But her career took a sudden crash when she abruptly quit her 6 week engagement on the Club MTV Tour after three days, later claiming sexual harassment from the headliner Milli Vanilli. MTV retaliated by refusing to play any more of her videos, and her second album tanked in sales. With just a couple of freestyle music shows in syndication, You Lied To Me got very little airplay in the United States. And once the U.S. market for her was effectively dead, she lost record label support across the globe. After her third album she abandoned performing and has since been a successful songwriter.
Sophie B Hawkins - Damn! I Wish I Was Your Lover ( Version #1 a.k.a. The Diaper Version )
A music video so hot that MTV outright banned it, forcing Sophie to shoot a completely different video. Known as "the diaper version", it had Sophie in an outfit that consisted of just two strips of fabric, one wrapped around her pelvis and crotch to create the diaper, the other around her chest creating a tube top. There was always the sense that the flimsy outfit would either unravel or fall off as she crawled across the floor. The outfit stayed on the entire video. Still MTV banned it, which meant The Box snatched it up.
Snap! - Rhythm Is A Dancer
While you can trace the origins of the catsuit back to the leotard, the first defenative catsuit was a costume made for Diana Rigg in the series The Avengers. Meant to be a leather astronaut costume for an episode where Emma Peel was under cover at a toy expo, it was reused in later episodes with very little alterations. As the catsuit only showed up in media from then on worn by cat burglars, it earned it's name. Although an argument can be made that the name came from the similar Catwoman costume in the Batman series. As I mentioned in the 80s article, catsuits didn't exist outside of custom made costumes for movies and television. So the only off the rack equivalent that would fit the average music video budgets, would have been wetsuits. Catsuits were not widely available in stores until the late 80s. At first in vinyl, but eventually giving way to the stretchable material of latex. Needless to say, that in the early 90s, skin tight glossy outfits were still a novelty. The first I can remember seeing on any woman was singer Thea Austin of the group Snap! in the video for Rhythm Is A Dancer. I probably wouldn't have found the video as sexy a decade later when the catsuit had far more exposure in the media. But in 1992 Thea was the first and only woman I had ever seen in a skin tight black vinyl catsuit.
Tori Amos - Crucify
This video's director must hate me. Or at least anyone who likes seeing women getting their clothing wet. As usual, this video is a cross cutting hodge podge of images, sets and outfits. Among which is a vignette where singer Tori Amos gets into a tub of hot steamy water while wearing a gown. Or at least we get enough footage to let us know Tori had been filmed in the steaming hot tub, and even in the same outfit under a shower. Throughout the video there are split second cuts to both the tub and shower, each cropped close-ups to a section of her clothing, with the implication that more will be shown if we agree to sit through the rest of the video. Then near the end of the video we see the entire tub in a wide shot. We see for nearly ten seconds in slow motion as a ton of water drops from above and fills the tub. Then another shot of Tori in the gown in slow motion walking towards the tub. And just as her foot is about to go in, we get a one second flash montage of all the prior cropped wet footage, followed by the aftermath with a damp but not completely soaked Tori singing in the gown for another ten seconds. Basically the director letting us know that Tori was filmed doing something incredibly sexy, but he is not going to let us see it. It's still sexy, but would have been far more sexy if only we could have actually seen her in the tub.
Deborah "Debbie" Gibson - Loosin' Myself
The Tori Amos video may have been an unfortunate tease, but the next eight videos on this list more than make up for it. The music videos from 1993 and 1994 I found the most sexy all involved women getting wet. The first of these videos was a last ditch attempt by Debbie Gibson to shed her teen queen image. As already mentioned, Tiffany's management had torpedoed the entire 80s teen queen collective with the controversy over the Jetsons movie. And let's face it, in the early 90s most radio stations were eager to shed anything 80s and move on to the new sounds of Grunge and Gangsta Rap. Even the Hair Metal bands who just months earlier were filling arenas, suddenly found themselves excommunicated from radio airplay. If Debbie Gibson's career could not survive in the 90s, then it was hopeless for any recording act labeled "80s". Debbie was still young, and wrote all of her successful pop songs. She was not like other past their prime artists who either hit their 40s or were no longer being offered great songs to record. She realized in 1990 her career was doomed unless she could make the transition to adult star. The album Anything Is Possible was the first attempt to reveal to the world a grown up Deborah Gibbson. But it was a hybrid of adult and her previously teen pop, and after just one video where she attempted being sexy, she panicked and immediately retreated back to her old image. Loosin Myself was an all out attempt to win over an adult audience, and get back onto MTV. The video alternated between Debbie dancing in a strip club in lingerie, and her out on a rainy night in a soaking wet dress. Former fans loved her new look. But MTV and VH1 passed on putting the video into rotation, and she never charted in the Billboard Hot 100 again.
Tisha Campbell - Love Me Down
Trisha Campbell was already a popular television actress from the sitcom Martin, when she decided to launch a singing career. It was brief, and after it's failure it would be another 22 years before she tried that again. But it did result in one gem. The theme she chose for the music video for Love Me Down was the musical Singing In The Rain. Specifically, the scene where Gene Kelly sings the title song while dancing down a rainy street. Trisha recreated that scene with an identically rainy city street set and getting her suit wet, concluding with her standing under a rain spout and getting completely soaked.
Robert Plant - I Believe
As previously mentioned in the 80s video, a popular painting that was recreated a lot in music videos was Ophelia by John Everett Millias. Depicting the moments in the play Hamlet before Ophelia drowns, the painting has a beautiful girl in a gown floating on her back in a river. In this video we see an actress depicting Ophelia as she walks through a forest. The video cuts away to Robert Plant singing on a bridge, then back to Ophelia who is now floating in the water. We only see Ophelia in the water for four seconds in total, after which we never see her again in the video. But those few seconds were enough, especially since VCR technology now existed and I could record and pause music videos.
Liz Phair - Never Said
Liz Phair nearly made my list twice, but there was stiff competition. Her previous video for the song Stratford On Guy, which appears to be random footage shot while she was on tour, had her in a white dress shirt in a bath tub full of water. The only reason it falls short is that the footage shown of this in the video is from her shoulders up. My guess, whoever's idea it was for Liz to get into the tub a d film it, didn't take into account that white dress shirts become transparent when wet. So the rest of the footage is probably to graphic for American television in the 90s. Never Said has a much better wet scene. Liz in a red coat and jeans, standing in the middle of a pond, and slowly sinking while she plays her guitar. As she gradually disappears below the water, she attempts to keep her guitar from going under as well. There is no way of telling if the comically panicked look on her face is fear for herself, or fear of getting her guitar wet. A little later in the video she emerges from the ocean in a metallic dress, once again playing that guitar.
Meat Loaf - I Would Do Anything For Love ( But I Won't Do That )
The long awaited sequel to Meatloaf's best selling album Bat Out of Hell included this hit which reached #1. The theme of the video, which was direct by Michael Bay, was Beauty and the Beast, with Meatloaf in makeup playing the Beast, and actress Dana Patrick playing the Beauty. The song had duet vocals from singer Lorraine Crosby, and Dana was in the video to lip sync her. A detailed to the Beauty and the Beast story that Bay added was to have Dana taking a bath in her gown shortly after arriving at the Beast's mansion.
Curve - Missing Link
While Meatloaf's video was in heavy rotation for months on MTV and VH1, this video probably didn't air at all, aside from a possible one time airing on 120 Minutes. MTV had once prided themselves on making hits by airing the videos of recording acts who were unknown on the United States. Just a few years earlier they were airing videos for non pop chart songs like Punk Rock Girl in heavy rotation. But by 1993 MTV was far less adventurous with the videos they aired. Outside of Head Bangers Ball and 120 Minutes, they insisted on only airing videos for songs that were already hits. Even veteran recording acts who had massive pop success in the past, usually didn't get their latest video on MTV unless the single was rising up the Billboard Top 100 chart. Even when MTV finally embraced Alternative videos a year later, they looked to the Modern Rock charts to decide which Alternative videos would air. The only place left on MTV that aired odd obscure videos was the cartoon show Beavis and Butthead. To fill out the half hour and save money on animation, segments were added where Beavis and Butthead watched real life music videos while commenting on them, using minimal animation' and mostly showing the music video itself. Since Mike Judge needed interesting videos for his characters to comment on, he picked a lot of videos that MTV chose not to air. Which is where most Americans saw the video for Missing Link, if only partially. The video has the band outdoors during a rainstorm, with lead singer Toni Halliday in a soaking wet sundress.
Lisa Lisa - When I Fell In Love
Another video that got little airplay was this by Lisa Lisa, whose solo career after leaving Cult Jam never really took off, despite her Cult Jam videos being practically solo songs. If not for a few surviving urban hiphop series on various local PBS stations, and their loyalty to Lisa Lisa, this video probably would have never aired anywhere. It featured Lisa in a white dress shirt getting soaked in the surf and later with her in the same outfit with her back against a waterfall. While the water did make her shirt transparent, she was wearing a bikini underneath.
Sophie B Hawkins - Right Beside You
Despite peaking at #53 on the pop charts, this ended up in heavy rotation on VH1. Most of the video had her fully clothed while getting soaked during a rainstorm on a beach. Thus ends the streak of wet videos. I should point out that this time period was flush with excellent examples of fully clothed women getting wet in music videos. Just to name a few that didn't make my top 50: The drenched hillbilly girl who pops up for a split second in Rednex's Cotton Eye Joe. Mariah Carey wearing just about the same outfit and shown on screen walking out of a creek in Dream Lover. Bjork in a peasant dress floating Ophelia like in the video Human Behavior. The vixen wearing a gown chained and underwater in Duran Duran's video Come Undone. Kim Basinger playing a corpse mortician Tom Petty brings home with him, dresses up in a wedding gown, then dumps into the ocean in Mary Jane's Last Dance. The girl in the video for Hootie and the Blowfish's Let Her Cry who spends half the video in a rainstorm crying, returns to her house to put on a dry dress, then immediately goes back out into the rain for the second half of the video. Madonna in an indoor artificial rainstorm in the video for Rain. And Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler swimming in their undergarments in the video for Crazy. And those were just the videos that either went mainstream or aired on Beavis and Butthead.
Traci Lords - Control
I was never a Traci Lords fan. The first I heard of her was when the controversy broke. She had been an adult film star who it was revealed had been under the age of consent when she made her movies. At 15 she had stolen the identity and birth certificate of a 20 year old woman, used her identity to acquire a passport and other legal documents, then use these documents to prove she was over the age of 20 when she got into the adult film industry at the age of 16. You may argue that the studio she worked for should have been able to tell that she was 16. But there are plenty of 20 year olds who look much younger. Take Ariana Grande who still could looked like she was 10 when she shot the video for Dangerous Woman, but was actually 22. The studio believed her legal documents. And for that they were arrested and prosecuted. Nationwide video stores frantically removed Traci Lords videos from their shelves. Some got into legal trouble anyway. While the government treated anyone who produced or distributed Traci Lords movies as criminals, they treated Traci like she was a victim. Two days after her 18th birthday she shot a self produced adult film called Traci, I Love You. Many suspected that Traci herself leaked her real age to authorities so that she would own the only legal Traci Lords film. Even if that wasn't true, I despised that her selfish actions had caused an industry millions and put hundreds of law abiding Americans in jeopardy of being sent to prison. So I never bothered to look at any pinup photos of her. After her real acting career went no further than direct to video B movies, she decided she wanted to have a singing career. The single for Control did surprisingly well, although after it was added to the Mortal Kombat soundtrack. MTV Networks had a policy against airing music videos from Adult movie stars, which kept videos from Heather Hunter and Traci Lords off their networks. So the only place to see this was The Box, where people kept ordering it so much that it seemed to air every 20 minutes. I may have not liked Traci Lords, but have to admit I found her video very sexy. Specifically because it was the first time I had seen a girl wearing a latex outfit. The shine of vinyl, but form hugging like lycra.
Adina Howard - Freak Like Me
Adina came out of nowhere to having a #2 hit and best selling Gold album. But both MTV and her record label treated her like a one hit wonder. MTV refused to play her follow up video and her label did nothing to promote it, so My Up And Down only reached #68 on the Billboard charts. Her first single, Freak Like Me, did get heavy rotation on MTV. It had a lot going on, with her outfits ranging from vinyl, to leather, to metallic. But a lot of what made this video sexy for me and everyone else was her grinding on the floor/in a bed performance. Some which was a primitive version of twerking. Adina Howard exemplified our collective frustration with MTV and the other surviving music video outlets who were refusing to air videos for songs that didn't chart. Who cared if the artists next song didn't chart, or even if it sucked. Adina was sexy and we wanted to see more. There was a time when MTV would air follow up videos for one hit wonders. Not any more. If there was an artist you thought was attractive, or funny, or made imaginative videos, or was a dynamic visual performer, and you wanted to see more, you were out of luck if radio stations stopped playing their records. Limiting videos to top 40 hits meant the channel became repetitive and boring, with the added frustration of knowing some of your favorite recording artists had new videos which weren't being shown anywhere.
Blues Travelers - Run-Around
Okay, so the Dorothy Gale in this video was portrayed as underaged. But was probably not a minor when the video was shot as labor laws would have restricted a minor to six hours on the set including makeup, which would not be good if shooting ran over that six hour limit. And would also require a parent or guardian on the set who could easily object to anything the director asked their kid to do. So it was most likely that actress Diana Marquis was a legal adult when this video was shot. Maybe. It could easily be another Traci Lords situation where the director was given false documents, or perhaps didn't bother carding the actors. She had never revealed her age to IMDb, so who knows. But basically, the characters from The Wizard of Oz are reimagined as teenagers trying to get into a club to see Blues Traveler perform. The Dorothy of the group wears a minidress whose skirt is so short that on many occasions you can see her panties. Unable to get past the doorman because he is not buying their fake drivers licenses, Dorothy resorts to flirting with the bouncer, finally giving up after the guard ignores her. In the words of Beavis and Butthead "Dorothy is hot." Just a bit worried how young the girl showing off her panties was.
Madonna - Human Nature
You would think Madonna would dominate this list. But quite frankly, not many of her videos turned me on. They failed to replicate her stage sexuality and instead had a more cartoonish macho sexuality. There were a few moments in Madonna videos that had me considering adding them to this list. But ultimately there was too much stiff competition. Videos like Erotica and Justify My Love, as provocative as they were, just didn't have me daydreaming of Madonna after they aired. And take into account that Madonna seemed to phase into a more adult contemporary artist with a lot of sedate videos to match the songs, such as the video for Take A Bow. Human Nature had enough elements in it that made it worthy of this list. It was Madonna in an outfit I legitimately found sexy, a black vinyl catsuit, being fondled by her dancers, and taking several sexy poses. And unlike most of her videos, it had me still thinking of her long after the video aired.
Diana King - Ain't Nobody
By 1985 VH1 had completely abandoned its Adult Contemporary format and began being a second MTV. By this time the MTV primetime schedule was being dominated by reality shows, game shows, reality game shows, inhouse cartoons, Brady Bunch and Monty Python reruns, sketch comedy shows, puppet shows, sports shows, fashion shows, and just about anything they could produce that had little to no music content. As the music content of MTV dwindled, VH1 seemed to step in as a replacement, airing pop and alternative videos, and even throwing in a classic 80s video once an hour, with MTV no longer playing any music video more than two years old. Their new slogan was Music First, and they were actively vying for disenfranchised MTV viewers. Another thing VH1 did that MTV was no longer doing was airing the odd video from a new artist that was not in the top 40. Reggie singer Diana King had only one top 40 single to her credit, Shy Guy off the Bad Boys soundtrack. Ain't Nobody peaked at 94, but got medium rotation airplay on VH1 regardless. The video featured Diana wearing a business suit in a glass tank with about three feet of blue dyed water, rolling around in it and getting fully soaked. Thanks to VH1 being more open to airing videos for off the chart songs, I was able to see this. But only for about a week. Diana's record label had her shoot a second black and white video for the song, and that became the version VH1 aired from that point onward.
Faith Hill - Lets Go To Vegas
I mentioned in the previous 80s article that Country Music Videos were never sexy. Video vixens were a rarity, and female artists were too respectable to sexualize themselves. The change finally happened in the mid 90s. While I can't say for sure that Shania Twain was responsible, female country artists were suddenly sexualizing themselves. One which was singer Faith Hill, who first stepped up her sexuality with this video. She was probably wearing fashion inspired by Ann Margaret, but the tight vinyl pants was purely 90s, so I am guessing was more of an attempt to compete with Shania than replicate Viva Las Vegas. Tight t-shirt over large breasts and vinyl pants, I was fantasizing about Faith Hill weeks after I saw her video.
Cranberries - Ridiculous Thoughts ( Directors Cut )
For about a decade the only way to have seen this video is when it was shown on Entertainment Tonight. There had been a controversy. Director Samuel Beyer shot the video. It featured a young Elijah Wood, running around a ruined city with listening equipment, presumably trying to hear Dolores O'Riordan Singing. Elijah's footage was intercut with the Cranberries performing next to a circus sideshow. It was common in the 90s for video directors to shoot a strait performance video with the artist, then shoot a separate conceptual video and edit the two together with little care if the footage complemented each other. Elijah was in the ruins of a bombed out city while The Cranberries were at a circus. But that would not be for long. The Cranberries wanted the Circus performance footage edited out and swapped with concert footage of them singing the same song at a concert. The footage being removed had Dolores in a tight red latex gown. No reason was given for the band removing the footage other than they didn't under the video's concept. At the time Beyer was a very important video director, having directed such classics as Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and Blind Mellon's No Rain. He had directed many of the Cranberries previous videos including Zombie. When the footage he shot of the Cranberries was replaced with concert footage, he demanded that his name be removed from the video. This was enough of a news story for Entertainment Tonight to cover it, and with it they aired the original edit of the video, which is how I originally got to see it. It was the first time I had ever seen a woman in a latex gown, which is why she looked extremely sexy back then. A decade later the Cranberries released all their music videos on DVD, and included the Samuel Beyer edit of the video.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seed ft. Kylie Minogue - Where The Wild Roses Grow
After the 80s teen queen crash of 1990 which brought down Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and all the other singers unfortunate enough to have been a teenager during the late 80s, Australian singer Kylie Minogue gradually became a major recording artist around the globe, outselling both Whitney Huston and Madonna. But not in America where neither radio stations nor MTV gave her a chance. As far as they were concerned, the singer of the cover version of Locomotion was a has-been, who Americans no longer wanted to listen to. Despite multiple stories on Entertainment Tonight covering her career as the world's biggest pop star, and a starring role as Cammy in the Streetfighter movie, she was relegated to one hit Wonder in the United States. A stigma that would last until 2001 with her hit Can't Get You Out Of My Head. The only video of hers to air in the United States in the 90s ( aside from Locomotion which aired on VH1's Big 80s frequently, ) was Where The Wild Roses Grow, which was her duet with Nick Cave and the Bad Seed. Nick Cave videos were still getting airplay on MTVs 120 Minutes. A weird song about a serial killer, sung from both the perspective of the killer, and the perspective of his dead victim ( sung by Kylie ). The song had the murder taking place by the riverside, which inspired the video director to replicate the painting of Ophelia, and have Kylie as the dead corpse lying in the river while singing. As it became apparent how hard filming in an actual river would be, the location of the body changed to the shallows along the bank of the river, eventually resembling a swamp in the video. Kylie wore a white party dress, half submerged while snakes and other swamp critters crawled across her body as she sang. My attraction to women in wet clothing, as well as replications of the Ophelia painting, hadn't changed, so I found this video sexy despite the darkness of it's subject matter.
Shania Twain - You Win My Love
I first saw Faith Hill on Entertainment Tonight, when they did a behind the scenes story on the making of her video Let's Go To Vegas. I watched CMT for the first time in order to see the complete video, as well as see Faith's other music videos. It was on that channel I saw my first Shania Twain videos two years before she crossed over to mainstream success. This video had Shania wearing leather jackets and vinyl pants. Vinyl still uncommon and still a treat whenever a female recording artist wore it.
Toni Braxton - You're Makin' Me High
In this video Toni is spending the night with her friends Vivica A Fox, Tisha Campbell and Erica Alexander. One man after another appears in an elevator leading to the room they are in as they rate them using score cards. At one point Toni sees a man she likes, has a stunned look on her face, gets up, and while mouthing to her friends "I am sorry. I can't help it." leaves in the arms of the man she likes. It wasn't often that a video portrayed a female artist as horny. Usually when they take off with a guy it is aggressive with the female in full control of the situation. Here Toni was overcome and had no choice but to leave with the stranger.
Tonic - Open Up Your Eyes ( Version #1 )
By 1996 music video outlets had dwindled. Friday Night Videos, the last existing national music video show on broadcast television, had changed its name to Friday Night in 1994 and had gradually added stand up, movie reviews and sketch comedy from the hosts. Early in 1996 the Friday Night host announced they would no longer be airing music videos during the show, although after multiple complaints the producers relented and began airing one or two token videos a week. MTV's exclusively deals with record labels had successfully shut down all their cable competitors, including the TBS juggernaut Night Tracks. Meanwhile, MTV was cutting down drastically the videos they aired in rotation, and VH1 soon followed MTVs lead by reducing the number of videos they had in rotation and adding programs with little or no musical content. Odds were shrinking of your video ever airing anywhere. Yet, record labels continue to spend more and more on video budgets. Or should I say, the recording artists were. Somewhere hidden in the fine print of their contracts, the money spent on their music videos would be deducted from their revenues. So basically, those millions you thought you made from your first hit single or first best selling album, was instead to pay off the cost of every music video you had filmed up to that date, with you getting whatever was left over. The record labels continued to pour money into music videos, but now as competition. As MTV was airing fewer videos in rotation, you wanted videos for your label filling those slots instead of videos from rival labels. The better video usually won that competition. And if MTV refused to add one of your videos to general rotation, simply have a different one filmed. No problem, the recording artist in the video would pay for it. Tonic's first video for Open Up Your Eyes had a girl dressed in an Ophelia costume, hiking through the forest before ending up on her back in a brook. And as I said before, I found the image of Ophelia very attractive. However, MTV would only air the video on 120 Minutes. So the label called for a second video with Tonic roller skating down a suburban street. MTV immediately added the new video to regular rotation, and it is now the version you find on YouTube with the Ophelia version hard to find.
Shania Twain - Home Ain't Where His Heart Is ( Anymore )
Not that the loss of the Ophelia version of Open Up Your Eyes from MTV meant l was no longer getting my fix on wet videos. Take this Shania Twain video. Shot in black and white, it features Shania in a white dress shirt, sitting at her kitchen table and singing a depressing song about a failed marriage. To match the mood of the song, it begins to rain in the kitchen, and Shania's shirt gradually grows wetter and more transparent. A sad song like that shouldn't have a sexy video, but it does, and I am grateful.
Souls - Cello ( Where You Were )
Transparency of wet clothing was not necessary for making a video sexy. As long as the girl was wearing regular clothing, there was something I always found attractive about it. Take the Soles video. The band is at a circus and is ushered into a large trunk, which is then sealed and dunked into a tank of water. Presumably it was an escape act, but the band showed no effort of escaping and continued playing their song even as a shower of water pouring in from above drenched them. Lead singer Cecilia Nordlund is wearing mostly black, but I still found watching her outfit which included a sweater getting completely soaked to be sexy.
Chris Rock - Champagne
There was meant to be a joke here. In what is supposed to be a rap video set to the sampled music from Run-DMC's Rockbox, comedian Chris Rock introduces the song he is about to rap, but instead we get the female backup singer for three minutes, followed by a one minute rap from a guest rapper. Rock was making a statement against the current Hiphop records which had a lot of singing and guest rapping, but very little from the featured artist himself. The singer was comedian Ajia Sanders who at one point in the video was wearing an outfit consisting of black vinyl pants, black bikini top and a clear plastic raincoat, the entire time being showered with what I assume is meant to be champagne. Thankfully this video, along with the sexy champagne shower footage, aired in heavy rotation on MTV. Realizing they had conquered all their competitors, MTV then set their sights on BET. While BET only aired videos for a few hours each day, and only black recording artists, a genre MTV neglected unless they had top 40 hits, MTV saw them, along with CMT, as their next challenge. They didn't just want to corner the pop and rock music video market. They wanted MTV Networks to be the only broadcasters left airing music videos. Meanwhile they were busy purging music videos from their own schedule, so go figure. But a big part of the strategy of beating BET was adding Hiphop videos to their heavy rotation. The entire morning was devoted to MTV Jams, airing any video that got heavy rotation on BET. Since they were no longer relying on Billboard pop chart statistics to determine if a video would air, videos for uncharted songs like Champagne aired. MTV would eventually win the war by buying out BET and CMT.
Mariah Carey - Honey & Honey ( Bad Boy Remix )
Technically, this entry is more than one video. Maria Carey shot way more footage than she needed, and basically shot extra footage for the Badboy version with Puff Daddy. The two Honey videos, the original and Badboy remix, share most of the same footage. So I decided to count it as the same video. But the original has more footage of Mariah swimming in a pool in a gown, while the Badboy edit had more of her in her vinyl jet ski outfit. There was a lot of other sexy moments in both videos as well. Perhaps some day all the footage will be combined into a single 30 minute mini movie. For now you need to watch both versions for the full experience.
Fiona Apple - Criminal
Looking back, I am amazed Fiona Apple is somehow considered a major recording star. With videos in heavy rotation on MTV, I had assumed they all had accompanying hit singles. But only one of her singles, Criminal, charted in the top 100, peaking at #51. Her albums regularly charted in the top 10 Album charts, but if MTV was still using the album charts to determine which recording acts had their videos in rotation, they would have still been airing Rush videos in the 90s. There was a huge publicity burst around Fiona Apple that gave everyone the impression she was far more successful than she actually was. Nor was there any possibility that Fiona would have any pop success. She insisted on recording songs that weren't commercial, and even confounded record executives by giving her albums names like:
"When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're right,"
Eventually MTV realized Fiona Apple would never be a pop star and stopped putting her videos in rotation. But that was well after Criminal got the heavy rotation treatment. It featured Fiona at a house party, aggressively stripping off her multiple layers of clothing until she had just her bra and panties on.
Billie Myers - Kiss The Rain ( U.S. Version )
Once again we have a single with more than one video. Her record label decided she needed a second video for the North American market. This one had her mostly outside during a rainstorm, getting her gown drenched as she used a pay phone to call her boyfriend. Billie was one hit wonder with Kiss The Rain peaking at #15. Although VH1 did put the follow up video Tell Me into rotation, it was pulled as soon as record sales and radio airplay abated without the single entering the top 100. Sadly, the record label has released the first version on YouTube as the official video, and the wet version is hard to find .
Lauren Christy - Breed ( Version #2 )
That is not the same story for Lauren Chrisie's video for Breed. It was the second version made specifically to get airplay on MTV, got into rotation on VH1 instead, and is since the version the record label released on YouTube. It was also a wet video, this time with Lauren inside a chrome room in a slip dress getting soaked by what has to be the sprinklers. VH1 was still willing to air pop songs that had hit potential, but also willing to disappear an artist from the channel if they failed to chart. Lauren had potential. In 1994 American Music Awards nominated her for best new artist, along with a couple of songs that charted in the Adult Contemporary top 40. Breed failed to chart anywhere, even with a second version of the video released. Lauren soon gave up as a recording artist to become a successful song writer for other pop artists.
Lisa Loeb - I Do
Another recording artist relegated to VH1 was Lisa Loeb. Three years earlier she could be found in heavy rotation on MTV. Her song Stay was #1 on the Billboard pop charts, and she wasn't yet signed to any record label. Ben Stiller had heard her demo tape and added the song to his movie Reality Bites, where it became one of the singles released for the soundtrack album. Lisa released an album resulting in another top 40 single Do You Sleep? peaking at #19. But her next two singles didn't crack the top 50. And while MTV was no longer discovering popular recording artists, they could at the least be the first to dump recording artists the public grew tired of. VH1, at the least, waited for the recording artist's career to completely bottom out before ghosting them. Either Lisa or her management must have realized her career was on thin ice. Her music videos from the previous album had her increasing her sexuality, perhaps as an attempt by a clearly VH1 adult contemporary artist to be relevant to MTV. But she never did anything particularly sexy. That changed with her next album Firecracker, the cover which had a painting of Lisa curled up on a shag carpet wearing nothing but an oversized white dress shirt and nothing else, her nude lower half mostly concealed by the way she is kneeling, but showing the outer edge of her right butt cheek. Someone decided that she should recreate this sexy painting for the first music video off the album, and Lisa did it. Not just the one pose in an identical dress shirt, but other poses as well. The album cover brought to life. The song cracked the top 20, becoming the second most successful single of her career. But her next single peaked at #71 after which VH1 pulled the plug.
Imani Coppola - Legend of a Cowgirl
Imani Coppola was more or less the final recording star who owed her career to MTV. Top 40 song Legend of a Cowgirl was added to rotation on the channel as part of their MTV Jams programming, but quickly graduated to 24/7 heavy rotation as viewers loved it. It was another rare appearance of a vinyl catsuit in a music video, so I loved it as well. Her next single failed to chart, and MTV failed to air its video. VH1 gave it a token airing during their alternative videos program Crossroads. VH1 had no chance to refuse her next video as her record label decided to shelve her second album.
Sheryl Crow - Home
Music video director Samuel Bayer gets another spot on this list. This time for convincing Sheryl Crow to get herself drenched in front of hundreds of spectators. Her video for Home had her singing the song at a demolition derby, a stark contrast to the mood of the song, but shot in black and white and with the car action in slow motion. And there was a nice huge mud puddle in the center of the arena for the cars to splash through. At the end of the video, Sheryl in her slip dress stands on top of a row of bales of hay with her arms outstretched. A stock car drives through the mud puddle right next to the hay and sends a wave of watery mud right into her, all in slow motion, as the crowd cheers. No doubt Beyer talked Sheryl into doing this after the rest of the video had been shot.
Goo Goo Dolls - Slide
This is the last of the four music videos from the 90s to make this list due to a video vixen or actress and not the recording artist. ( technically, there were five. Actress Dana Patrick lip synced the vocals of Lorraine Crosby in Meatloaf's I Will Do Anything For Love. ) in contrast there were 14 music videos on my 80s list where it was an actress or video vixen who made the video memorably sexy, while on my 00's list it is only one video. There are a few reasons for this. But the main reason is that the use of video vixens diminished in the 90s. Record companies were looking for visuals in their videos they were sure would appeal to the MTV staff who chose what videos were added to rotation. They kept track of which of their videos MTV selected and which they passed on. And MTV grew tired of the cliché video vixen. Rap videos seemed to get a pass, but their vixens seemed to be stuck in the rut of the big breasted bikini clad girl in the hot tub as opposed to the ones in rock videos that were seemingly reenacting plots from adult films. ( I should point out that the only video vixen to make the 00's list was in a Rap video. ) You could barely call the actress in the video for Slide a vixen. The song was about a teenage couple contemplating an abortion due to an unplanned pregnancy. The director fixated on the often repeated song title Slide and came up with the premise of a girl in a satin prom dress sliding. We first see her hiding under a bed when she slides out from under it. She slides through her bedroom window and onto the fire escape to leave her apartment. She arrives at a Drive-in restaurant and begins sliding across the back seats of parked cars. And the video ends with her sliding back through her bedroom window. The combination of her beauty, her satin dress, and the way she inexplicably kept sliding under, over and through stuff kept me oddly interested.
Taylor Dayne - Unstoppable
By 1998 both MTV and VH1 strictly aired music videos based on their singles performance on the Billboard charts. This didn't just make it impossible for new artists to break on MTV, but for established artists to revive their careers. Taylor Dayne was a major recording artists who had seven top 10 hits in the late 80s, including a #1 song in 1990. With a general backlash against 80s recording artists by mainstream radio, Taylor stopped charting on the Billboard top 100, but continued to have hits on the dance charts. Still, both MTV and VH1 refused to air any new videos from her. Naked Without You was supposed to be her comeback album, but neither mainstream radio nor MTV allowed her to come back. Just about the only place the video off that album for Unstoppable aired, was on Entertainment Tonight, who did a story on Taylor's comeback. It had a fully clothed Taylor singing in a tub full of water. I was so sure either MTV or VH1 would air the video, and was looking forward to seeing the entire thing. After all, Taylor was a major recording artists with a track record of 7 top ten hits. But it never aired anywhere, so I had to make due with the 20 seconds of it I saw on Entertainment Tonight.
Charli Baltimore - Money
MTV Jams was one of the final place on basic cable you could find videos for new artists with no existing chart history. The other would be 120 Minutes, but on that show most of the two hours was top 40 singles that could qualify as Alternative. And it was getting to the point where non charting artists were rarely shown. With Jams, MTV needed to compete against BET, which would air videos from any black recording artist regardless of chart success. So you would get artists like rapper Charli Baltimore, who up to that point had very minor chart success. But she was gorgeous and wore a sexy black vinyl outfit, making Jams worth watching if only to catch the occasional airing of this video.
Shania Twain - Man I Feel Like A Woman
Shania Twain was getting her videos aired on MTV and VH1. After the crossover success of the single Your Still The One, MTV overlooked that she was a country star and added her videos. In this one she starts in a masculine outfit with a top hat, overcoat with a white shirt and neck tie underneath. As she sings with an all male backup band, a nod to the Addicted to Love video, Shania begins to gradually strip the outfit off, revealing the undergarments are a satin corset, opera length gloves and thigh high boots.
Esthero - That Girl
120 Minutes was in it's death throes. You were lucky if one or two of the videos shown during the episode was not something out of the channels heavy rotation. You could go weeks with the same exact lineup of videos. And it was regularly preempted for marathons of other MTV shows, as if there was an audience willing to watch a marathon of Road Rules reruns from 11pm to 6am Sunday night into Monday morning. Often these marathons were scheduled at the last minute, preempting already taped episodes of 120 Minutes within a half hour of it's scheduled broadcast. Many believed MTV was deliberately tanking the ratings as a pretext to cancelling the series. Among the last of the truly Alternative videos to air on the series was That Girl by Esthro. She played a girl sealed in a glass room, with the suggestion she can not breathe air. She has a clear plastic outfit similar to a spacesuit she wore when she left the room. While the outfit also included what appeared to be khaki thermal long johns which didn't allow for you to see any skin, there was still something very sexy about what amounted to a clear plastic catsuit.
Monica - Street Symphony
Monica was a 15 year old when she had her first hits. Street Symphony was her first truly adult song, and at age 18, wanted an adult video to go along with it. Child stars transitioning into their adult careers can be a bit tricky. They had their fans, but now most of them have grown up. To keep them they must grow up with them, otherwise their grown up fans loose interest in them. Meanwhile half their fanbase is still children, whose parents are the ones buying their kids records, and could decide they no longer want their children listing to a singer who they think is inappropriate for them. Sometimes, like with Miley Cyrus, the transition is successful, and in a matter of months Disney's Hannah Montana is half naked and twerking on the MTV Video Awards. Other times the transition fails, like with Debbie Gibson who did a half ass adult video for Anything is Possible, retreated to her old stage image when parents complained, then lost all her fans by the time she did her first legitimate adult video for Loosin Myself. So how did Monica do? Every one of her prior singles charted in the top ten, with her previous three reaching #1. Street Symphony didn't chart at all, after which it would be years until she got another top 40 hit, which peaked at #10, after which her singles never charted again. The common belief is she went for the adult image too soon. Her career was at an all time high days before her transition. Her music hadn't changed. But Little Miss Thang was replaced with a woman, which her fans ultimately rejected. There is little doubt Monica was hoping her teenage make fans would find her attractive in the video. But there was nothing drastic. Her outfits bare no more skin than her previous outfits in videos. There is a boyfriend, but they never come in physical contact of each other. If anything can be called drastic, it would be her sudden overuse of cosmetic makeup, which ages her looks by nearly a decade. Still, this is the first Monica video where she was legitimately sexually attractive. And one of her outfits included black vinyl pants, which amazingly was still not used much in music videos, so still sexy to me whenever a girl wore them.
Faith Hill - Breathe
In contrast to the Monica video, Breath was X rated. Shania Twain had opened the crossover door for other female country artists. Mainstream radio began playing their singles, and VH1 began mixing their videos into rotation. And they charted on the billboard top 100 for the first time, even landing a few top 40, and even top 10 hits. Some of the recording artists that crossed over to mainstream after Shania kicked the door open was Martian McBride, LeAnn Rimes, Trisha Yearwood, The Dixie Chicks, Reba McEntire and Dena Carter. And with that, a little pressure from record executives for them to make sexier music videos. Shania's biggest competition was Faith Hill. She had toned down her sexuality after the video Lets Go To Vegas, but with Breath took Shania Twain head on with what in my opinion was the sexiest music video of the entire 90s. Mostly shot in a desert, the video frequently cuts to Faith, nude in a bed with he blankets just barely covering her. As she sings she writhers as she recalls the sex she just had with the subject of the song. A great performance that not only makes you say "Shania Who?", but vow to make Faith Hill your wife. Released in October of 1999, this video got most of it's airplay in 2000. But as I first saw it in 1999, and it was released in 1999, I am counting it as a 90s video.
Which is the last of the 90s videos on my list. 2000 began a new decade, which I will cover in my next article with the sexiest music videos of the 00s. A decade where MTV and VH1 both completely abandoned their music video format, MTV2 and FUSE came on the scene to replace them, then promptly changed format as well, and something new called YouTube was launched which would make sure no new music video ever went unseen.
For the 50 sexiest of the next decade, read this....
YoCa on March 21, 2020:
"The Beloved - Sweet Harmony" which is one of the sexiest videos of the 90's and is not on the list :(
Max Sanderson on July 21, 2017:
Could have added Kylie Minogue's Put Yourself In My Place as that was from the 90s to which she shows herself sexy. I LOVE IT
Charles Prickens on November 25, 2016:
Does anyone remember which video of the mid to late 90s where, for no reason I can conceive, there were some scenes with a naked girl on all fours, seen from the side (so it wasn't even censored I guess), within something like a tiny black cubicle (almost to the exact size for her to fit there in that pose), and the camera shot was also just that I believe, kind of as if she was there inside an old tube TV box. And there were something like green laser beans and perhaps vapor.
She just arched her back and made some smaller moves, these scenes would just randomly appear for just about a second. I don't remember anything else, though, I think it was probably very generic, like singer guys walking around random places and singing to the camera.
I thought it was something from the lighthouse family, but apparently it's something else. Something like adult pop contemporary or whatever. Maybe a boy band targeted to older teens/early tweens. Not sure even where from. They probably were never a rally big hit, I guess, otherwise I'd have more suspects.