#TBT: When Michael Jackson Won A Clio

And music videos were a proving ground for young, influential directors

The year was 1996. The DVD format just made its debut in Japan...Kofi Annan was elected secretary general of the United Nations...Major League Soccer kicked off its inaugural season...Clio editorial directors were graduating college...And the music video was enjoying its last few years in the sun before the internet came along and sent the industry into an existential tailspin that would see MTV become a hub for reality television, Metallica sue children for downloading music, and the iPod cram your entire record collection into a device the size of a bar of soap.

As we gear up for Clio Music and the 58th annual Clio Awards, it’s fitting that we take a Throwback Thursday look at time when the likes of Michael Jackson and Madonna earned statues.

Yes, at one time, the Clio Awards’ “Television/Cinema” category honored “Product, technique, music video, and campaigns.” And not only did some of the biggest names in music history earn themselves recognition, but so did many of the next decade’s most influential filmmakers. Here are some of the highlights from the old “music video” category of the Clio Awards Television/Cinema 1996 shortlist:

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “My Friends”

Red Hot Chili Peppers - My Friends [Official Music Video]

This somber Peppers offering (featuring ex-Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro) was directed by legendary rock photographer Anton Corbijn, who would make his feature film directorial debut roughly 10 years later with the Ian Curtis biopic Control. Also worth noting, this video was submitted under the category of “Alternative,” which should send a nostalgic warm feeling down the backs of people of a certain age. Remember when that was a thing?

 

Bjork – “It’s Oh So Quiet”

björk - it's oh so quiet

The quirky Icelandic alternastar found the perfect complement in director Spike Jonze, who in the mid-90s was enjoying his golden age as an innovative music video visionary. The gritty/pop-color look of the video perfectly matches the wistful crooning/outright screaming that characterized the song itself.  Did you know that this track is actually a cover of a 1951 song originally recorded by American singer Betty Hutton? Hutton’s version of the track was used in a “Sensational Mascara” spot for Maybelline in 2015.

 

Michael & Janet Jackson – “Scream” / Madonna – “Bedtime Story”

Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson - Scream (Official Video)

The ’96 shortlist was heavy on the Jackson family and Madge. Michael and Janet’s “Scream” would appear on both the Pop and Urban/R&B lists, while Janet’s “Twenty Foreplay” would also get a Pop nod and her “Runaway” (directed by future go-to remake director Marcus Nispel, he of Conan the Barbarian and Friday the 13th reboot fame) would appear on the Urban/R&B list.

Madonna - Bedtime Story (Video)

Meanwhile, Madonna would have two videos on the Pop list: “Bedtime Story” and “Human Nature”--but what’s also note-worthy is that both “Scream” and “Bedtime Story” were directed by Mark Romanek. He would earn critical acclaim for his films One Hour Photo and Never Let Me Go, and would return to short form video work in recent years with Taylor Swift (“Shake It Off”) as well as Jay-Z and Beyonce.

 

The Rolling Stones – “Like A Rolling Stone”

The Rolling Stones - Like A Rolling Stone - OFFICIAL PROMO

For a project that was already a kaleidoscope of cross-references—The legendary Rolling Stones covering an iconic song called “Like a Rolling Stone” written by equally legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan who insists he didn’t have the English rockers in mind when he wrote it—the lone entry in the Rock/Heavy Metal category already had a lot going on. Add to the mix an acid trip-like music video starring Patricia Arquette and directed by the endlessly quirky Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind, The Science of Sleep), and you can see why this was a standout.