The 40 Most Expensive Music Videos Ever Made

by: Joseph On  Friday, April 12, 2013

Most Expensive Music Videos


Music videos tend to be pretty cheap for budget-conscious artists. All you really need are the band, some instruments (they don’t even have to work!), an open field or something, and a camera. Boom, you got a music video. But what about the artists who are too huge for earthly concerns like “money” or “good taste”? Welcome to MTV!

Here are the 40 most expensive music videos ever produced (to date). It’s not adjusted for inflation, but you’ll nevertheless notice an interesting mix of artists and time periods – I guess because the art of the mega-expensive music video has tapered off somewhat. Watch, listen to, and enjoy the 40 most expensive music videos ever.

Mylène Farmer - "California" - $700,000

It may not have the bursts of violence of director Abel Ferrara’s feature films, but it’s still pretty good. And at $700,000, one of the 40 most expensive music videos ever.

Britney Spears - "Oops!...I Did It Again" - $750,000

If you look at this whole list you’ll notice a trend of expensive music videos set in outer space. The first one is “Oops!…I Did It Again” by Britney Spears, who made it to Mars for a relatively inexpensive $750,000

Pia Zadora - "Heartbeat of Love" - $800,000

An expensive-looking house and some snow effects add up to this $800,000 Pia Zadora video.

Ayumi Hamasaki - "Virgin Road" - $1,000,000

The first video on our list to hit the million-dollar mark is “Virgin Road” by Ayumi Hamasaki. As you can see in the excerpt above, there are lots of explosions and other cinematic imagery to justify that price tag.

Kanye West - "Touch The Sky" - $1,000,000

When Kanye West released this video for “Touch the Sky,” he spent almost enough money to do just that, with a $1 million budget.

Janet Jackson and Nelly - "Call On Me" - $1,000,000

Janet Jackson makes her first (but not last) appearance on the list along with Nelly in the video for “Call On Me.”

Britney Spears - "Toxic" - $1,000,000

Britney Spears’ video for her dangerously catchy track “Toxic” cost a million dollars on the dot.

Sisqo - "Thong Song (remix)" - $1,000,000

Yet another million-dollar video, this one for the remix of Sisqo’s one-hit-wonder “Thong Song” featuring Foxy Brown.

TLC - "Waterfalls" - $1,000,000

TLC spent a lot of $$$ on the video for one of their biggest hits, “Waterfalls.” The video cost a million dollars in early-90s money, which I’m pretty sure amounts to enough to clear the national deficit today.

The Rolling Stones - "Love Is Strong" - $1,000,000

This video’s impressive visuals, featuring The Rolling Stones and some girlfriends at giant-size in New York City, was directed by David Fincher at a cost of $1 million.

Sisters of Mercy - "Dominion/Mother Russia" - $1,000,000

Goth-rock cool dudes Sisters of Mercy are a surprising entry to the list, with their $1 million video for “Dominion/Mother Russia.”

Michael Jackson - "Thriller" - $1,000,000

Here’s one of the true pioneers of the music video form – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” directed by John Landis. It cost a million bucks to make, but the effect it had on the overall culture has been priceless.

Duran Duran "The Wild Boys" - $1,000,000

It cost a million dollars to rein in these “Wild Boys,” by Duran Duran. The music video, I mean.

Ayumi Hamasaki - "Jewel" - $1,100,000

And here we have Japanese artist Ayumi Hamasaki, who will become a familiar face to you if you watch all the videos on this list. This particular video, “Jewel,” cost $1.1 million to produce.

Kanye West - "Stronger" - $1,200,000

Kanye West’s “Stronger” is one of the most popular songs of the rapper’s career, so it figures it would be accompanied by one of his priciest music videos. How pricey? $1.2 million.

MC Hammer - "Here Comes the Hammer" - $1,300,000

Given what we know about MC Hammer’s financial reputation, it’s a wonder every video on this list isn’t an MC Hammer joint. This particular one cost $1.3 million.

Madonna - "Give Me All Your Luvin" - $1,500,000

This video for a track off of Madonna’s latest album MDNA also features MIA and Nicki Minaj, which is probably a small part of why it cost $1.5 million.

Janet Jackson and Blackstreet - "Girlfriend/Boyfriend" - $1,500,000

Janet Jackson and Blackstreet teamed up for this $1.5 million video. Something about Janet Jackson must cause music video budgets to skyrocket.

Guns N' Roses - "November Rain" - $1,500,000

And Guns N’ Roses makes their first appearance on the list, with their $1.5 million video for their ballad “November Rain.”

TLC - "Unpretty" - $1,600,000

TLC spent more than half-a-million more on this than on their video for “Waterfalls.” Worth it? That’s not for me to say.

Ayumi Hamasaki - "Green" - $1,600,000

Brace yourselves people, we’re about to go through three Ayumi Hamasaki videos in a row. This one cost $1.6 million. The next two cost a little more. We can get through this if we just stick together…

Ayumi Hamasaki - "Fairyland" - $2,000,000

OK, number two. The home stretch is almost here. Considering this is a Japanese music video about fairies, I’m surprised they were able to clock in at just $2 million. Maybe the fairies were desperate.

Ayumi Hamasaki - "My Name's Women" - $2,000,000

We did it! This is the last Ayumi Hamasaki on the list for a while. This one cost $2 million.

George Michael - "Freeek!" - $2,000,000

George Michael attempted to launch a comeback in 2002 with his video for “Freeek!” It cost $2 million.

Missy Elliott - "She's a Bitch" - $2,000,000

All those weird light-up costumes must have gotten expensive, if this $2 million Missy Elliott video is any indication.

Will Smith - "Miami" - $2,000,000

Will Smith must have been pretty sincere about his love for Miami, since the video for his ode to the city cost $2 million to make.

Madonna - "Bedtime Story" - $2,000,000

Mark Romanek’s video for this Madonna track came to a whopping $2 million once it hit the airwaves (or whatever it was that music videos used to be transmitted through).

Michael Jackson - "Remember the Time" - $2,000,000

This Michael Jackson epic (from director John Singleton!) had a nice and round $2 million budget after all was said and done. So much sand, so little Eddie Murphy…

The Backstreet Boys - "Larger Than Life" - $2,100,000

I have no idea what’s going on in this video, or why the Backstreet Boys are in a spaceship. But apparently it cost $2.1 million to get them up there.

Michael Jackson - "Bad" - $2,200,000

This Michael Jackson music vid–sorry, short film from director Martin Scorsese had a healthy $2.2 million budget. It costs a lot of money to make MJ look tough.

Celine Dion - "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" - $2,300,000

Well, I guess someone was watching Celine Dion videos back in the 90s. Someone paid $2.3 million for this one, anyway.

Busta Rhymes - "What's It Gonna Be?!" - $2,400,000

Some shiny T-1000-like visual effects probably contributed to this Busta Rhymes video’s massive $2.4 million budget. And Janet Jackson doesn’t come cheap either.

Mariah Carey - "Heartbreaker" - $2,500,000

What does a $2.5 million Mariah Carey video look like? Check out the video above for the answer.

MC Hammer - "Too Legit to Quit" - $2,500,000

As I mentioned before, MC Hammer wasn’t exactly well-known for his financial skills. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that he has another video in the top 40 most expensive, this one with a $2.5 million price tag.

Puff Daddy - "Victory" - $2,700,000

The most expensive hip-hop video of all time, at $2.7 million, is from (who else?) Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs.

Guns N' Roses - "Estranged" - $4,000,000

The most expensive straight-up rock video on our list is from Guns N’ Roses. The video for “Estranged” cost $4 million.

Michael Jackson - "Black or White" - $5,000,000

Michael Jackson’s follow-up collaboration with director John Landis after his famous “Thriller” video cost a whopping $5 million. Those morph effects still look pretty cool, so it was money well-spent, I think.

Madonna - "Express Yourself" - $5,000,000

This $5 million video for one of Madonna’s most popular songs had another big name behind the camera: Future Hollywood big-shot David Fincher.

Madonna - "Die Another Die" - $6,000,000

It’s a music video for a Bond theme song by Madonna – I’d say $6 million is a bargain, considering.

Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson - "Scream" - $7,000,000

I imagine that a big chunk of the budget for this video from Michael and Janet Jackson – the most expensive of all time – was devoted to launching the two artists into space. That could not have been cheap.