Remember when music videos were an event?
From Michael Jackson seducing Egyptian queens to Busta Rhymes and Janet Jackson getting their T-1000 on, music visuals were once an essential part of the listening experience. And while some fans might consider music vids passe today, that’s far from the case – for instance, Jay Z’s outstanding visuals for “The Story of OJ” didn’t just help promote the song but put a new spin on its important message. Besides, in today’s culture of viral videos, visual mediums are as strong as ever before.
Let’s look back a few memorable tracks that, for whatever reason, never received the music videos they deserved. These songs are great but visuals would have made them even better.
Dru Hill, “Beauty”
It’s a shame that arguably Dru Hill’s best ballad never received video treatment. Now sure, they could have gone the traditional route with an impossibly pretty stripper named Beauty strutting around in her draws, but what if that video showcased an average-looking woman working hard on her day job, with her man dolling her up when she gets home and treating her like royalty for a night on the town? That could have been something special.
Nas, “I Gave You Power”
I contend that “I Gave You Power” is one of the most creative – and important – songs in hip-hop history. It was “Stan” long before Em hooked up with Dido. Nas’ personification of a murder weapon could have been a groundbreaking video. Instead of making the titular gun a goofy talking cartoon character straight out of Pixar, let Nas’ lyrics simply serve as a voiceover for a tale of revenge gone wrong. He doesn’t even have to make an appearance on camera – the actors and narrative should drive the story.
702, “I Still Love You”
Pharrell once said that this is one of the best beats the Neptunes ever created. And he’s not wrong. The lyrics command a simple love story but the insane production could inspire some really creative backdrops. As long as the girls aren’t singing to aliens on a UFO you can’t really go wrong here.
Lil Kim, “Queen B****”
I sort of understand why this one never received video treatment – it was a little TOO raw and profane to be featured on TV without some heavy-duty editing. Still, it was worth a shot. I mean, who wouldn’t love a monochrome video of Kim stomping down a filthy alley in her fur and bikini? Fit for a queen.
Little Brother, “Cheatin'”
If you haven’t heard Phonte’s Percy Miracles persona, you’re missing a treat. Phontigallo is essentially playing a caricature of R&B crooner, complete with goofy lyrics and corny oversinging. This track itself is a parody of all those R. Kelly/Mr. Biggs songs from the early ’00s. Considering today’s current meme culture, a “Cheatin'” video that borrows from the best (and worst) of Kellz would be a cult classic.
Playa, “Never Too Late”
I’ve long had a soft soft for Playa and it’s criminal that their 2003 comeback single never took off. I bet a video for this track would have been the perfect fuel for their return. Keep it simple with this one – the guys should simply try to win back the girl they let slip through their fingers. This one could have been huge.
Scarface featuring Jay Z, Kanye West and Beanie Sigel, “Guess Who’s Back”
It’s funny how your mind tricks you into believing things that never existed – I could have sworn there was a video for Face’s ’02 banger. A beat this soulful yet down-to-earth demands an authentic experience. Stick the four guys in their respective hoods and let them tell their story, cutting back to their respective residences at different times. It’ll be a great way to showcase the track’s North-meets-South-meets-Midwest vibe.
Jazmine Sullivan, “Mascara”
I know, I know, it’s a crying shame we never received a video for Jazmine’s awesome “Let It Burn.” But I feel like “Mascara” was even more tailor-made for the visual experience considering the song’s strong message. Imagine a behind-the-scenes look at the world of reality TV, where once the cameras stop rolling, the impossibly perfect star is obsessed with maintaining her beauty because, sadly, that’s all she has. We missed our chance for a great commentary on body imagery.
Snoop Dogg, featuring Nate Dogg, Warren G and Kurupt”Ain’t No Fun”
Can’t believe this song never received visuals? Me neither. Obviously this track dropped at the height of hip-hop misogyny, so there’s not much you can do here outside of booties and bikinis. It wouldn’t go over well in 2017 but it would have been quite the experience back in ’93.
Brandy, “Angel In Disguise”
The best song from Brandy’s best album never had its own video. Where did we go wrong? This is another one that writes itself – a gorgeous vixen (I’m thinking Maia Campbell at her ’90s peak) sinks her claws into some goody-goody guy, while Brandy comes through to remind us that beauty is only skin deep.
Kanye West, “Family Business”
Remember when Kanye West was introspective and relatable n’ stuff? Visuals for “Family Business” could have really cemented his legacy. This one is easy, too: Release real home-video footage of Ye’s family gathering and all the madness therein. When Kanye says “You know that one auntie, you don’t mean to be rude/But every holiday nobody eating her food” followed by a closeup of an untouched bowl potato salad, the video would have immediately been crowned an all-time classic. Showcasing the real-life highs and lows of family would strike an emotional cord, guaranteed.
Michael Jackson, “Butterflies”
“Butterflies” is a top-five Michael Jackson song. Fight me if you disagree. MJ’s videos have always been groundbreaking, and the tender message behind this track is ripe for creativity. Even if it’s nothing more than Michael moonwalking through a field of CGI butterflies, it would have been a special moment – and likely the last video Michael gave us before his untimely death.
Which songs do you believe deserved music videos? Let us know below.