When MTV Played Music Videos

Cold Hearted Snake, Paula Abdul, still, 1989.

Being born the same year as MTV (okay I’m aging myself here), it was inevitable that I would fall in love with music videos (some of which my mother preferred I not watch—ahem, Madonna). Being born with a love to dance, I was lucky to have grown up with these videos that showcased some of the most amazing talents of the time (dare I say, all time?). Without lamenting too much about the loss of dance in today’s music videos, I instead would like to celebrate the videos that prompted hours of dancing in front of the TV (and in the garage, and my grandmother’s backyard, and my best friend’s basement), and the dance icons in them. I can safely say that Paula, Janet, Madonna and Michael not only shaped the way that I viewed dance and music but showed me some other things too, not the least of which was how to have fun, have confidence and to just be yourself. We may not be sporting those awesome pointed bras, oversized suits and kneepads any more, but the enjoyment of these amazing talents and their movement still lives on.

Below is a collection of music videos that are permanently seared into my existence, I hope you enjoy!

Paula, I would bring my tape of Forever Your Girl, my tape player and my jazz shoes to my grandmother’s house when I was 8 and danced to your music in her backyard for hours. You’re still forever my girl:




Janet, how you be so fierce, and so sexy? Heart you always, and I still use your moves in my dance class.



Madonna: My mom wouldn’t let me watch your videos, so I had to sneak it during sleep over parties at friend’s houses. Eventually she broke down and let me go to your concert. My 9 year-old self, “I die.”



Michael: At least once a month I have my dance students do our routine to Billie Jean. Sometimes I imagine myself walking on glowing sidewalks. I know you’re moonwalking in heaven.



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