Michael Jackson's Best and Worst Music Videos

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 (Getty Images)more pics »In his decades-long career, Michael Jackson starred in over 40 music videos, many of them indubitably iconic. He set the bar for the video star — but that doesn't mean he got it right every single time. Here, revisit Jackson's all-time best music video moments, and get familiar with the clips that didn't quite live up to the King of Pop's legacy.


5. "Smooth Criminal," 1987.
Director: Colin Chilvers
Michael played a gravity-defying hero to a trio of homeless children in this epic mobster-themed clip, which was so deliciously cartoonish it was adapted into a number of video games with ease. He even saves their dog!

4. "Scream," 1995.
Director: Mark Romanek
A lot of Jackson's videos explored his feelings of isolation and frustration with the media, but none quite so effectively as this stylish space-age concept. It was also one of the first times  Janet Jackson ever played a raunchy sex goddess-type.

3. "Black or White," 1991.
Director: John Landis
There are precious few videos that capture the energy of the early '90s quite as well as this colorful extravaganza, which features Macaulay Culkin in his sassy prime. Here, Jackson's celebration of diversity feels joyous and not too preachy — and cheesy in a good way.

2. "Beat It," 1983.
Director: Bob Giraldi
There is no video that better illustrates a core tenet of Michael Jackson: Why fight when you can dance? Filmed on Los Angeles' Skid Row, the "Beat It" video featured real-life members of the Crips and the Bloods in addition to some really impressive breakdancers.

1. "Thriller," 1984.
Director: John Landis.
The most memorable of Jackson's high-budget narrative-driven music videos, "Thriller" is generally regarded as the best music video of all time (even Kanye West would probably agree). It was also fairly controversial in its day, as conservative groups railed against its "violent" content.


5. "Jam," 1996.
Director: David Kellogg
Okay, okay: There are redeeming qualities to this ridiculous video, which pits Jackson in a dance-off against Michael Jordan. But it's hard not to feel kind of embarrassed for MJ in the basketball scenes.

5. "You Are Not Alone," 1995.
Director: Wayne Isham
"You Are Not Alone" was a terrific song, but its video was spectacularly cringe-worthy. Jackson clearly felt he had something to prove about his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley... so he made a semi-nude music video with her. Someone was trying a little too hard.

3. "In the Closet," 1992
Director: Herb Ritts
The music video for Jackson's "In the Closet" demands a lot from its audience — namely that one see Jackson as a sexual human being. Yes, Naomi Campbell is radiant as she repeatedly flashes her panties, but it's not enough to make this pairing believable.

2. "Speed Demon," 1989.
Director: Will Vinton
Claymation has its charms, but they're kind of hard to spot in this dizzying clip, in which Jackson transforms into a weirdly masculine-looking rabbit to evade a bunch of creepy, big-toothed fans. It's somehow childish without really being any fun.

1. "Whatzupwitu," 1993.
Directors: Wayne Isham and Klasky Csupo
You may not remember this violently colorful music video from your childhood because it barely got any airtime — and with good reason. Technically an Eddie Murphy video that merely features Jackson, "Whatzupwitu" has the fine distinction of looking like Kid Pix threw up all over it. Also, it incomprehensibly opens with a reference to Alejandro Jodorowsky's intensely creepy surrealist horror film Santa Sangre.

I'm the former Zimbio Music Editor. Into music, cats, karaoke, and shiny things. Follow me: Google