10 Most Bizarre Rock Videos
Bizarre imagery is no stranger to the world of rock. In fact, rock thrives on the shocking and bizarre, and it is the genre that is most expected to be more of an advocate of darkness. Obviously, musicians express creativity through music but since the age of MTV, and now YouTube, creativity can also be displayed visually through music videos. It’s understandable and probably already assumed that most rock music videos will at some point be weird but here we show videos that are downright drippy, some also unsettling, so be warned: most of these videos are NSFW. Most even cross the borderline of what is considered in the civilized world as inappropriate. But as it is known in the world of rock, anything is possible. It shouldn’t come as a surprise now, however unusual, unsettling, and utterly bizarre these following music videos are.
1o. Nine Inch Nails – “Closer”
One of Nine Inch Nails’ greatest hits from their second studio album The Downward Spiral released in 1994, “Closer” featured a very disturbingly memorable music video. The video was directed by Mark Romanek from the imagery as told by front singer Trent Reznor. In the video, what will be etched in the viewer’s mind would be Reznor in bondage gear, some weird body modification, a severed pig’s head going in circles, and a poor little monkey hanging on a crucifix. Those alone would be enough to open a case on animal cruelty. The song basically describes primal sex, and has subsequently become dubbed as an anthem of lust, or so it has been misinterpreted as. The video was originally 4 minutes and 36 seconds long but was cut down to 3 minutes due to censorship. The disturbing imagery was allegedly inspired by the art of Joel-Peter Witkin, depicting elements such as religion, politics, sexuality, all into a general overtone of terror. Oddly enough, “Closer” was also voted the number one video in VH1’s 2006 20 Greatest Music Videos of All Time.
9. Bjork – “Human Behavior”
This 1993 classic from Björk was her first UK Top 40 hit and the first of her many collaborations with director Michel Gondry who would also come to direct Björk’s memorable videos such as “Hyperballad”, “Bachellorette”, “Declare Independence” and “Crystalline”. Björk came to explain the music video’s imagery as a story of human behavior being told in the point of view of animals. It’s very Goldilocks and the Three Bears in its narrative and was inspired by Yuri Norstein’s animated film, “Hedgehog in the Fog”, except darker. The video featured Björk treading through a dark forest with a teddy bear and some dancing moths. One frame even shows a nest of creepy Björk-like humans. She then gets chased by the bear and ended up on the moon to plant a Soviet flag only to fall down in the bear’s throat and inside its stomach. Not quite your usual bedtime fairytale. Despite the bizarre visual narrative, the music video was actually critically acclaimed, even earning the 96th spot on Rolling Stone Magazine’s The Top 100 Music Video of all Time list.
8. Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun”
Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” takes weird and bizarre to a whole new level. Written by the late Chris Cornell, “Black Hole Sun” was the third single from their hit album Superunknown released in 1994. The song was one of the band’s biggest hit, topping the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and staying at number one for close to two months! The track is even included on Soundgarden’s greatest hits album. The popularity of the song is at the same level as the weirdness of its music video featuring a general apocalyptic theme with Barbie dolls charring on a Barbecue put there by some little girl who is not quite human and some of the creepiest fake smiles that will haunt your dreams for life. Seriously, you wouldn’t think of the act of smiling the same way again. It’s basically a fake happy world falling apart and getting sucked into a black hole, but in a darker more bizarre way. Just watch and find out for yourself.
7. Pearl Jam – “Do The Evolution”
Don’t be fooled by the cute cartoons in Pearl Jam’s “Do the Evolution” music video. It isn’t cute for long. Directed by Kevin Altieri and animated by Todd McFarlane, the music video features violence and death as it follows the story of the evolution of life. It portrays the violent and abusive behavior of man throughout history in bizarre way that is through-provoking.
“Do the Evolution”, the seventh track on Pearl Jam’s fifth studio album Yield released in 1998. It’s part of Pearl Jam’s Greatest Hits Album released in 2004. The music video was nominated for Best Music Video Short Form at the 1999 Grammy Awards.
Pearl Jam’s statement on the music video says,
“As artists we are challenged to expand the meaning of our work and by utilizing this visual medium and working with a visionary like Todd [McFarlane], we were able to further explore some of the themes we depicted in the song “Do the Evolution”. Basically we’ve tried to make a good stoner video.”
6. Fever Ray – “If I Had a Heart”
Here’s something from your darkest nightmares. Swedish singer Fever Ray’s debut single “If I Had a Heart” is a song that is as haunting as its music video. The song itself is dark, slow, and on the spectrum of experimental. The lyrics were inspired by Fever Ray’s observation of her own children (which makes it creepier), and at the outset seems like an innocent song. While the music video do feature children, it couldn’t be more farther to innocence with its imagery of death and gore. The video suits the song, and the evocative visuals add to its haunting quality. With the children entering an eerie mansion with its floor soaked with blood and the swimming pool filled with dead bodies, all whilst a masked figure stands guard, it’s like a horror film inside a music video. “If I Had a Heart” was nominated for Best Indie/Alternative music video at the 2009 UK Music Video Awards.
5. Marilyn Manson – “The Beautiful People”
Do we expect anything less than disturbing from Marilyn Manson? He pulls through with your doze of bizarre every single time. One of Manson’s most successful singles “The Beautiful People” has a very dark sense of what beautiful means. Not only does it feature torture and violence, it also references torture experiments a la Nazi concentration camps. Manson himself appears to be constantly being disfigured with wires and contraptions throughout the video. Other disturbing imagery include worms…and dolls. Kudos to the make-up department of this video though for making the cast in this video look very creepy and messed up. And because of those visual elements alone, “The Beautiful People” received quite a number of accolades including Best Special Effects, Best Art Direction, and Best Rock Video nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards. So if you’re into watching music videos that leaves you feeling uncomfortable, Manson’s “The Beautiful People” is a must-watch.
4. System of a Down – “Aerials”
This 2002 single from System of a Down’s album Toxicity has a very interesting and mind-provoking music video. The song talks about mankind and lifeforms beyond it…aliens, in layman’s terms. Directed by David Slade and Shavo Odadiian, the video features the band as they were being watch by a strange looking boy. An alien boy, set in various environments such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a circus tent. The song’s deeper meaning was meant to be shown in the video, human nature and man’s tendency to destroy their own planet, in the eyes of something extra-terrestrial.
“Aerials” hit the number one position on the Billboard charts in 2003. IT also earned the band a Grammy nod for Best Hard Rock Performance also in 2003.
3. David Bowie – “Lazarus”
David Bowie’s final farewell to the world was made through his last music video, “Lazarus”. What’s bizarre about this video is that it depicts his ordeal with his battle with cancer and his impending death. The music video shows Bowie in a hospital bed, his eyes bandaged with two black buttons sewn over them, opening with the lyrics, “Look up here, I’m in Heaven!”.
It then ends eerily with the Thin White Duke retreating into a dark closet, a parallel to his death and him going into the after life. It also features a skull motif, and we see skulls as elements in the video during his transition from his death bed into a diagonally striped suit referencing the back cover of the 1991 Station to Station album. The video was released just less than a month after Bowie’s death.
It was also nominated for Best Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Editing, at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards.
2. Aphex Twin – “Come To Daddy”
If you’re ready to follow a creepy old lady get terrorized and chased by a dozen creepier children all wearing the same mask of Aphex Twin’s face donning a hauntingly frozen smile, all dressed in the same little’ girls’ outfit, well this video will satisfy your horror hunger pangs. “Come to Daddy” is the lead single from Irish electronic musician Richard D. James also known by his pseudonym Aphex Twin. Directed by Chris Cunningham, “Come to Daddy” has become infamously known for its disturbing content. All from the singer’s distorted face to it being mounted on little children’s faces all while they wreak havoc in the dark neighborhood and chasing a man into his car. We haven’t even mentioned the demonic form of a creature that emerges and scream’s into the old lady’s face. Fittingly enough, “Come to Daddy” was voted into the Top 50 of Channel 4’s Top 100 Greatest Scary Moments in 2003, and the only music video of its own category to make it to the list.
1. Tool – “Sober”
“Sober” is Tool’s first music video, their second single from their first studio album Undertow. You may think a stop-motion animation music video would be harmless, well, think again. “Sober” was directed by Fred Stuhr and may have served as the first template for many following music videos that are just as disturbing. The video featured some sort of humanoid puppets, one looking like a horrifying man made of the human brain (of course, it wasn’t really made of brain, rather it was clay). The creature, which seems to appear as the protagonist of the video, is seen twitching and vibrating in a violent and disturbing manner as he levitates in his chair. Aside from the odd creepy creature, it also features elements of violence and torture. The video has an open ending, leaving the viewers desperately confused and creeped out. The visual creation is credited to Adam Jones who collaborated with Fred Stuhr for the production of the music video.