The 14 Most Common Types of Music Videos

Music videos are so creative and innovative! They’re all so different! Nope. Not at all. Here are fourteen types of music videos we see over and over again.

1. The White Abyss

Cousin to “The Oops”, “The White Abyss” is basically a music video where there is no outside world and beautiful dancers just magically exist on an indefinite plane of whiteness.

2. The Oops, That Money Was For a Video?

When we see music videos like this, we can’t help but wonder if the director blew the budget on a wild night of oysters and had to get real resourceful with a green screen and some lights.

3. The Shit Got Real So Let’s Dance

Post-apocalyptic, zombies, beef between pop stars — basically any iteration of the world ending results in sexy walking or dancing. This style of music video is characterized by dirty, vaguely militaristic, or tattered clothes. Bottom line, the world’s ending so we gotta get our priorities straight and look sexy AF.

4. The Marco Polo

These videos are so dusty and smokey you could play Marco Polo with your eyes open. We’re assuming these videos were shot during a power outage and some lowly PA was like, “I have an idea!” She brought out a bunch of candles from her car because last night she went to Yankee Candle and ta-da saved the day.

5. The B&W

Also known as, the “Look How Serious We Are This is A Serious Music Video For Serious”. These videos always have close-ups of faces looking off into the distance, contemplating life choices (or dinner).

6. The Look! Technology!

These videos looked advanced for like three days after their premiere then instantly became old. Besides cell-phone product placement, there’s no better way to make a video look out-of-date.

7. The Actually Dated on Purpose

If the music video powers that be have exhausted all other ideas, they just go back in time for inspiration, and voila — a totally unoriginal video is born. Usually these videos lack diversity (because people of color didn’t exist back then!!), so we appreciate A$AP Rocky as JFK in Lana Del Rey’s vid. The only attempt at diversity in “Wildest Dreams” is Taylor’s hideous black wig, because a white girl with black hair totally counts as diverse right??

8. The Middle of F*cking Nowhere

When all else fails, take your crew out to the desert with a Lambo, horse, piano, or silver mirror thing and you’re gucci.

9. The WTF

These videos are confusing and make no sense. Yet we pretend we get it because we want so desperately to belong.

10. The We’re So Poor But It’s Glamorous

“Oh look at us, we live in little miniature houses intentionally decorated to look like they weren’t intentionally decorated. Wait, what? These aren’t miniature houses, you say? They’re the size of regular human houses and we’re just insanely rich bozos out of touch with reality? Preposterous!” said every artist who has a music video like this. Rihanna and fChris Brown (fake Chris Brown) are in a bathtub because they can’t afford a couch! Elle Goulding wears a sports bra because she can’t afford a shirt! These videos capture our pathetic regular lives so perfectly.

11. The Bad Acting

You’ve seen it: screaming, throwing things, sloppy open-mouth kisses, and over-the-top gestures to compensate for real emotion. We chose to just have one video illustrate this genre, because we love Rihanna’s hair, that guy from Lost, Megan Fox, and Eminem’s “My Heart Will Go On” pose in the thumbnail. It’s all so good and simultaneously so bad.

12. The Color in Place of Substance

If the song is ear-bleedingly catchy (yup, that’s a phrase starting now), it will probably get an eye-bleedingly bright music video. Green hair for Nicki! Pepto Bismol in a champagne flute! Heck, Pepto Bismol in a swimming pool! We don’t despise Madonna’s “Bitch I’m Madonna” video as much “Superbass”, but only because Diplo produced it. We also kinda like the awkward cameos that for sure came from Madonna calling in decades old Kabbalah/Illuminati/Basmati Rice favors.

13. The Feel Good

Sadly, we have to like these videos. It’s an unstated rule of our society, just like the rule that you don’t fart in public, or if you do you casually say, “Hey, do you smell that…?” then look suspiciously at Todd from accounting. “The Feel Good” usually features a nice sample of society’s quirky individuals. The jolly convenience store clerk, the urban youth with headphones, and the six-year-old boy who’s insanely good at dancing and just smiles at you while he dances because he’s the sh*t and you’re worthless. Yeah, these videos are great.

14. The Condemned Warehouse

The ultimate overused music video element is “The Condemned Warehouse”. It could be a functioning factory (complete with steam and men wearing gloves but no shirt) or just an abandoned loft, but whatever it is, all those people dancing in perfect V formation are definitely trespassing. Even if they’re meant to be there, they aren’t taking the proper safety precautions to warrant such aggressive limb-flailing. Sigh… I hope they have good workers comp.

What’s your favorite music video style? Let me know on Twitter @andihester!

Andi Hester
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