Once upon a time everyone’s favourite pop idol was either Donny Osmond or Dusty Springfield. They were family-friendly listening, and music lovers admired the elegance of these well-loved international singers. It was inspirational to see young, emerging stars judged not primarily on their looks but on talent.
Fast forward to forty years later and pop stars are tearing their clothes off for music videos as every viral clip now counts towards securing a future, long-lasting career.
Since Britney Spears burst onto the scene in her school uniform, the message has been clear to all the stars out there: it’s not about getting to the top, it’s about staying at the top. Never before has the industry seen so many fiercely competitive performers, with each act trying to find new and extreme ways to shock their fan-base and get the world talking.
Even Miley Cyrus has transformed from Hannah Montana to drug-advocating, sex-mad twerking diva. Sex sells and there’s no doubt that all of the big stars and their managements are shamelessly exploiting that.
Nowadays, most music video channels feel more like watching premium adult entertainment then just pop stars trying to promote their latest singles. Among the sexiest music videos of the digital era, viewers are regularly treated to twerking, gyrating, bondage, full-frontal nudity and spanking. Of course, with the YouTube views in the millions for each one of the following clips, it’s safe to say that these acts know what the fans want and are willing to pull out all the stops to give it to them.
Nudity Alert: The majority of these videos are NSFW and contain both male and female nudity.
15. Nicki Minaj – Anaconda
In 2014, Nicki Minaj released the video for her new song Anaconda and dropped millions of jaws worldwide. The song managed to break VEVO’s current record for most watched video in it’s first 24 hours of release; she had gained an earth shattering 19.6M views (knocking Miley Cyrus off the top spot with her Wrecking Ball video). It achieved what management hoped, with everyone sharing the video on social media platforms, in shock and awe.
Anaconda samples the well-known song Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot, and the video displays Minaj out in the jungle positioned on all fours, staring directly at the camera as a slow motion shot shows her behind jiggling those famous bum-cheeks. There’s even a special guest appearance from Drake in the video, as Minaj crawls towards him, simulating a lapdance. Currently the video has 483 million views, so if you haven’t seen it you’re one of very few.
They do say imitation is the highest form of flattery and in this case Minaj must be beaming, as there are dozens of parody videos online. One user re-dubbed the whole video with a hilarious ‘fart noise’ version. These parodies and the controversy haven’t harmed the original, as it still shot to number one on iTunes. It also became certified 2x Platinum in the US, Platinum in Australia, Gold in New Zealand and Sweden; and Silver in the UK.
14. Eric Prydz – Call On Me
Call On Me was written and produced by Swedish DJ Eric Prydz. The song was released in 2004 and became internationally famous, not just because of it’s catchy beat but it was accompanied by one of the most recognisable music videos of all time. All it took was one aerobics class full of women wearing 80s fitness gear and sexually suggestive dance routines; the world was gripped.
The video was such a talking point that the UK Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, said: “The first time it came on, I nearly fell off my rowing machine.” The video also references Flashdance by replicating many of the dance moves throughout. The happy ending is that the one guy in the aerobics class wins over the main instructor who has chosen to lead the glass wearing a leotard with a thong-back; slightly inappropriate for your average gym.
Call On Me became the highest-downloaded music video of all time in Australia and on the back of its popularity a full-length aerobics DVD was released featuring the original dancers from the video; Pump It Up – The Ultimate Dance Workout. NME Magazine wasn’t impressed, however, and they placed it at number 5 of the worst videos of all time.
13. Rihanna – Pour It Up
If Rihanna isn’t talking about money, stripping or partying then she isn’t talking at all. Pour It Up was released early 2013 from her Unapologetic (2012) album; throughout the song she brags about her own wealth and independence – oh, and strippers. The video which is set in a shallow pool; where Rihanna sits up in a large throne, surrounded by gyrating strippers (when she isn’t furiously shaking her own bottom towards the camera) has been seen over 158 million times.
The original music video was due to be directed by well-known music video creative; Vincent Haycock. However he left production and tweeted that there were “creative differences”. Rihanna tweeted back, “Just take your name off the check while u at it! Whatever your issue is leave my fans out of it”. Proving you do not mess with RiRi.
Entertainment reviewers HitFix did not hold back on their own scathing review of the video. They said; “It’s a dimly lit video equivalent of a Playboy photo spread that is meant to serve the very same purpose for the boys and men who view it. And we’re all supposed to scrape and bow and talk about how ‘artfully’ it’s shot and pretend that it’s so very empowering for her to show off her body this way.” Well, that’s one strong opinion at least.
12. Sigur Ros – Fjögur Píanó
In 2012, Sigor Ros released the video for Fjögur Píanó which starred Shia LaBeouf. The director of the video, said the story is about; “a couple trapped in a perpetual cycle of addiction and abuse, set to a somber piano melody that at times hints at some light at the end of the tunnel.” The video gained millions of view on YouTube and won praise from critics worldwide.
It’s absolutely no surprise at all that viewer discretion is advised as half way through the 8 minute 30 seconds art piece; LaBeouf has a private gymnastics piece performed for himself, he then paints his female companions naked body and caresses her intimately. Although you may have to be a film analysis or art critic to try and describe exactly what is happening in the video; you will be able to see a second’s glimpse of full-frontal nudity from LaBeouf.
11. Kanye West – Bound 2
In 2013, Kanye West decided he would premier his new music video for Bound 2 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Both the song and the video were a tribute to his then-fiancee, Kim Kardashian, which helps explain why she appears topless on a motorbike with her legs wrapped around him. The video was met with mixed reviews, one critic from The Guardian called it; “self-indulgent, idiosyncratic and a bit weird”.
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have never been shy in declaring true love for each other on the world stage. The video itself works as a great example of how they are comfortable…um…laying bare their entire relationship. They are saying loud and clear that their love is real, even if the special effects are not as her hair blows in the completely wrong direction but in the name of love – we’ll let that one slide.
A week after its release a much better version appeared on the internet; a parody titled Bound 3 starring James Franco and Seth Rogen. They put together a shot-for-shot remake whilst they should have been working on shooting The Interview (2014) but there is always time to stop and have a little fun along the way. The parody was a hit but there was no hard feelings as Kim tweeted she found it very funny.
10. Maroon 5 – Animals
Adam Levine had his wife Behati Prinsloo star in video for Maroon 5’s hit song Animals in 2014. Prinsloo enters a slaughterhouse where Lavine is working but then she is stalked by him through the streets home after dark. There’s plenty more creepy stalker activity as he takes pictures of his supposed ‘prey’ as she sleeps and he trains physically by punching large meat carcasses which are slung up on hooks. His fantasies are deep as he imagines them in a blood soaked embrace and rolling about sexually together in his bedroom.
Then came the backlash as the video faced strong criticisms about the depiction of women as objects; the band was accused of glamourising stalking throughout the video. RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) gave a press release shortly after the video’s release condemning it’s themes. They wrote: “No one should ever confuse the criminal act of stalking with romance. The trivialisation of these serious crimes, like stalking, should have no place in the entertainment industry”.
In comparison to other tracks released by Maroon 5 previously the sales performance began poorly; they debuted at number 86 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Eventually when some of the controversy had died down the song managed to reach a million sales in the US and peaked at number three. Animals then became the band’s seventh consecutive top ten hit since 2011.
Beyoncé released the video for Partition in 2014; the video was shot at Crazy Horse which is a cabaret club in Paris. She said she wanted to shoot the sex-fused video because: “The day that I got engaged was my husband’s birthday and I took him to Crazy Horse. And I remember thinking, ‘Damn, these girls are fly.’ I just thought it was the ultimate sexy show I’ve ever seen. And I was like, ‘I wish I was up there, I wish I could perform that for my man…’ So that’s what I did for the video.” She did not disappoint as her constant gyrating and risqué costumes are enough to make anyone blush.
Beyoncé dances on top of a grand piano, swings on a pole, is repeatedly touched by sexually by her husband Jay-Z and performs her now famous chair routine in lingerie – the silhouette capturing every curve of her body. The video was nominated for awards at the 2014 BET Awards and 2014 MTV Music Video Awards.
One critic of the video was TV host Bill O’Reilly, he said that the simulation of sex in the back of a car would encourage her teenage audience to do the same and result in unwanted pregnancies. Reilly commented: “Why would she do it when she knows the devastation that unwanted pregnancies… and fractured families […] I think Beyoncé, what she has done here, is inexplicable”. In her defence, Beyonce said: “I wanted to show my body. I wanted to show that you can have a child and you can work hard and you can get your body back. I know that there’s so many women that feel the same thing after they give birth. You can have your child and you can still have fun and still be sexy and still have dreams and still live for yourself.”
8. Jennifer Lopez – Booty feat. Iggy Azalea
If you’re looking for the music video which holds the record for the most booty-slaps throughout; then look no further as Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea have won the title with their 2014 video for Booty. Before the release Lopez gave an interview where she was asked to describe the video, her reply: “It’s a lot of booty.” No kidding! VH1 named it the sexiest video of 2014 and the song went right to the top of the Billboard’s US Hot Dance Club Songs.
Like any highly-sexed music video you must have plenty of writhing around on the floor, barely-there costumes, plenty of shaking of the derriere, spanking and flirtatious dancing – Booty ticks every box. The pair dance together in small bathing suits, getting very close and celebrate their admiration for each other’s famous features by rubbing oil into each other.
How did Lopez’s two children respond to the song? They loved it apparently, the star said: “I put [the song] in the car … I had Max and Emme in there with me, and they just went crazy for it. The minute it came on, it was like an instant-listen thing. For them, it’s just fun. It made me see we over-think things sometimes, and I don’t want to over-think things. I just want have fun and be happy and make music that makes people happy and feel something.” Yes – but have they seen the video, J-Lo?
6. Scooter – Bigroom Blitz feat. Wiz Khalifa
In 2014; German techno hard dance group Scooter released the official video for Bigroom Blitz which also featured rapper Wiz Khalifa. The song received a mediocre response but the video became a jaw-dropping, talking point on an international scale. Channeling the 80s retro feel from previous videos such as Eric Prydz’s Call On Me; it appears they are aiming for the winning formula of – hot women working out.
The group of ladies all take to mini-trampolines and begin a cardio workout whilst the camera zooms into their behinds as close as the focus will allow. We are even treated to watching their bodies lift up into the air in slow motion all whilst Scooter himself screams down a megaphone, “BRING THE NOISE!”
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse; Wiz Khalfia makes an appearance but only as his mouth and he is super-imposed onto the breast on one of the ladies. Yes, a rapping breast. Just before this monstrosity is over, we are treated to one last slow motion, close-up between the legs of the women. Delightful.
5. Tyga – Make It Nasty
Tyga released the music video for his track Make It Nasty on YouTube in 2011. The explicit video features a hoard of women, fawning and fussing over the rapper or turning their attention to each other. Basically the video appears like one large sex party and only Tyga and a couple of his friends got an invite.
Some might look up to him as the luckiest guy in the world, but before you quickly swap into his shoes be warned this video caused him nothing but bad press after it’s release. He was successfully sued by two women who appear in the video after he used shots with their nipples exposed but had not received signed consent and they were told no nudity would appear. Then in 2013 another woman sued the star for the same video shoot after she claimed she had to endure sexual battery (she was groped on set without consent), emotional distress and fraud as she too was convinced the nudity would be edited out the video.
The highest position the song got to in the US charts was number 23 and let’s just say 25-year-old Tyga, who is now dating Kylie Jenner, hasn’t regained much of a good reputation ever since.
4. Christina Aguilera – Dirrty
Dirrty was released in 2002 by Christina Aguilera featuring Redman and the song took over the world thanks to the raunchiest pop video that had been released by the star to date. The singer had been known for her ‘bubblegum pop star’ reputation and now she was ready to reinvent herself as the world had never seen her before.
Aguilera took boxing lessons in preparation for filming and she instructed the director, David LaChapelle, to make it anything that wasn’t ‘glossy or pretty’. LaChapelle commented on the style he used throughout the video: “Seeing “Dirrty” you will have some good time. It’s kind of place your parents don’t want you to go to. It represents all the underground, dirty things and strange, dark places”.
Many video stations banned the video as they claimed it showed “simulation of masturbation.” Aguilera also appears wearing a bra and a mini-skirt or a bra and chaps; basically not every much throughout all the dance routines. The new image she wanted to present to the world was rejected by many; music producer, Linda Perry, who worked with the star on her Stripped (2002) album saw the video and asked the star: “Are you high? This is annoying. Why are you doing this?” Entertainment Weekly also described her as “the world’s skeeziest reptile woman”.
Despite all criticism she was nominated at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video, Best Dance Video, Best Pop Video, and Best Choreography. Then in 2012 The Sun, a British tabloid, named Dirrty the Raunchiest Pop Music Video Of All Time and VH1 ranked it at number two in their countdown of The 25 Most Scandalously Sexy Music Video Of All Time.
3. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball
In 2013; Miley Cyrus released her video for Wrecking Ball and the world has not quite got over it since. The video begins with an emotional Miley singing directly to the camera in-front of a white backdrop, which was homage to Sinéad O’Connor‘s Nothing Compares To You video from 1989. She then begins to kiss and lick a sledgehammer before taking down walls wearing only a white vest, pants and Doc Martens boots. Then a giant wrecking ball collapses the remaining walls around her.
Cyrus then mounts the wrecking ball, completely naked, and gyrates around tossing her hair back as she sings the remaining verses. She said of the idea: “I think the video is much more, if people get past the point that I’m naked and you actually look at me you can tell that I actually look more broken than even the song sounds.” However critics believed she was playing around with nudity not for artistic expression but as a means to shock so she could distance herself from the Hannah Montana image she was then better known for.
The video gained 19.3 million views within just twenty-four hours which was a new world record. It also won the 2013 MTV Music Video Award for Video of the Year. Currently the song has been viewed more than 763 million times; and it will never be forgotten.
2. Justify My Love
When Madonna released Justify My Love in 1990 on VHS this was the first time any artist had promoted a new single by using this format. It was her own bright idea so she could cash in on the controversy surrounding the video which displayed voyeurism, sadomasochism and bisexuality. It was fair to say MTV had it banned immediately so fans could only view the scandalous video if they shelled out to buy it on tape.
Madonna then added more fuel to the fire by labelling MTV sexist and hypocrites. She believed male artists were over-looked when using nudity and displaying sexual violence in their videos. All the controversy and publicity the single received gave the sales performance a brilliant boost right to the very top of the charts where it stayed at number one for two consecutive weeks.
With a career stretching nearly four decades this was neither the worst or last of all her controversies.
1. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines feat. Pharrell Williams and T.I
The music video for Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, Pharrel Williams and T.I was released in 2013. It was unsurprisingly shot in a style that would get banned so they could gain extra publicity. Thicke’s manager, Jordan Feldstein, said at the time: “We had an artist that had never had a hit on radio. It was a non-traditional song; it didn’t sound like a Timbaland or Benny Blanco record. So we had to approach the market in an interesting way. I knew it would get it banned quickly … Getting something banned actually helps you”.
The video used three models who would pose and dance around the singers whilst holding a giant hashtag saying ‘#THICKE’ and ‘#BLURREDLINES’. Then towards the end of the video they spell out ‘THICKE HAS A BIG D**K’ with balloons. There is another version of the video where the models are nude apart from skin-coloured G-strings but this was removed from YouTube in less than a week after it had begun to go viral.
Everything was on the up for Thicke until he made a blundering comment in an interview. When asked about whether he thought the video was demeaning to women by GQ magazine, he replied:
“We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, ‘We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.’ People say, ‘Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.”
He later tried to take back his words claiming they were taken out of context as it was intended to be a “bad joke” in the style of Ron Burgundy from Anchorman (2004).
Since the incident the video has continued to cause controversy and the singer was sued by the family of Marvin Gaye for $7.4 million due to copyright infringement over his 1977 hit Got To Give It Up. He also released a new solo album titled Paula (the name of his ex-wife) in 2014 and sold less than 30,000 copies worldwide; basically securing his music career as dead in the water.
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