Rolling Stone Names Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ the Best Music Video of All Time

todayJuly 30, 2021

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In honor of MTV’s 40th anniversary, Rolling Stone has ranked the 100 greatest music videos of all time and Beyoncé’s “Formation” tops the list.

The magazine calls the Melina Matsoukas-directed visual “a striking commentary on significant moments in Black American history” as it debuted during Black History Month in 2016.

“In under five minutes, Beyoncé moves from a plantation-style house where the black denizens are the masters not the slaves to the top of a sinking police car,” writes the magazine. “If Beyoncé’s self-titled visual album established her as one of the greatest artists of all time, her surprise-released ‘Formation’ video (and ensuing album Lemonade) marked her as one of the most important.”

Elsewhere in the top 10 is Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” at No. 4. “It’s a clip that rewards dozens of viewings,” says RS of the video, which references viral dances and the 2015 shooting in a Charleston church.

The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” comes in at No. 6, followed by D’Angelo’s 2000 video “Untitled (How Does It Feel?),” where the R&B icon puts his glistening naked body on full display—”The concept is at once a creative shrug and a stroke of genius.”

Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” is absent from the list, but “Billie Jean” lands at No. 14. “It still defines music video at its peak of cultural and emotional impact,” says RS of the 1983 clip.

The list also includes Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (No. 12), Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” (No. 16), Prince’s “Kiss” (No. 18), Young Thug’s “Wyclef Jean” (No. 22), JAY-Z’s “99 Problems” (No. 23), 2Pac and Dr. Dre’s “California Love” (No. 27), Drake’s “Hotline Bling” (No. 32), Kanye West’s “Bound 2” (No. 34), and Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” (No. 82).

See the top 20 below and the full list here.

1. Beyoncé – “Formation”
2. Johnny Cash – “Hurt”
3. Madonna – “Vogue”
4. Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
5. New Order – “The Perfect Kiss”
6. Beastie Boys – “Sabotage”
7. D’Angelo – “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)”
8. Peter Gabriel – “Sledgehammer”
9. Guns N’ Roses – “November Rain”
10. Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”
11. George Michael – “Freedom ’90”
12. Beyoncé – “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”
13. Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
14. A-ha – “Take on Me”
15. The White Stripes – “Fell in Love With a Girl”
16. Missy Elliott – “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”
17. Duran Duran – “Hungry Like the Wolf”
18. Prince – “Kiss”
19. Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”
20. DJ Shadow feat. Run the Jewels – “Nobody Speak”

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