Top Ten Songs with the Most Cartoonish Live Action Music Videos

The first wave of cartoonish music videos may have occurred in the 1990s, when eurodance and especially the subgenre bubblegum dance spread in much of Europe. Music videos became very important in the 90s to promote singles and the albums the songs can be found on. Artists like Michael Jackson, Björk or Madonna were known to outdo each other with outstandingly creative (and expensive) music videos that were seen as really magnificent back in the days and still are awe inspiring. The bubblegum dance genre reached its peak in the second half of that decade with artists such as Aqua, Toy-Box or Hit'n'Hide, and made excessive use of colorful imagery, silly costumes and ridiculous CGI, often mimicking the over-the-top goofiness and novelty appeal of the song. Quite often, the artists looked like cosplayers re-enacting a scene from their favorite comic book. Around the turn of the century, American teen pop artists like Britney Spears, Spice Girls or the Backstreet Boys did the same. Then bubblegum dance had a short lived revival when the groups Ch!pz and Banaroo managed to reach high chart positions, though only in few countries, causing many similar projects to suddenly appear. Several of their videos had the same goofy tone of their 90s counterpart. In the second half of the 00s, the extravaganza of music videos widely decreased in favor of less spectacular, basic ones. Then as the 2010s kicked in, and the platform YouTube began to become a large part of the popular music landscape, several music videos tried to get attention through unusual and often intentionally weird visuals. Lady Gaga most notably tried an artistic approach, while Katy Perry's and Nicki Minaj's videos often had a sillier, cartoonish outfit that sometimes closely resembled the music video trends of the teen pop artists around 2000.

The Top Ten

1 The Sailor Song - Toy-Box

The greatest band in the world are also noteworthy for their high quality videos.
Take for example "The Sailor Song". Set on a terrifically animated ship we get a bunch of sailors dancing like the werewolf pack in "Vampires Suck", an exhibitionist seagull puppet, lobsters, a DJ with a massive wig, half naked girls, men getting accidentally blown and punched off the ship, a "Titanic" parody and an epic fight with a sabre and a soup ladle. In other words: the best example for high quality. - Martin_Canine

2 Ch!pz In Black (Who You Gonna Call) - Ch!pz

As the album title suggests, the premise of Ch! pz' debut album was that they were like a group of heroes that went from one novelty adventure to the next. From the wild west to the middle ages to a pirate ship to space to a haunted house... and in this case, which was their breakthrough hit, they were ghostbusters. In the video they fight off a bunch of aliens trying to abduct a school bus. By the way, let your kids listen to Ch! pz, there isn't anything more exciting and catchy in kids' music entertainment. Plus, many bubblegum dance groups like Aqua or Toy-Box were aimed at adults and had some iffy humor, but Ch! pz are entirely clean. - Martin_Canine

3 Swish Swish - Katy Perry & Nicki Minaj

Words can't describe how happy this music video made me. Katy Perry may be the only pop music artist out there that still does the kind of pop music I grew up with. I know a 21 year old shouldn't talk like this, but still, a lot has changed. First there was house pop, then there was artpop, and the straightforward catchy pop with a destinctively positive, cheeky, sad, "serious", uplifting, or any other feel to it fell into some sort of limbo. The artists who made albums like "In the Zone", "Good Girl Gone Bad" or "Loose" in the meantime discovered they needed to be uber artsy and experimental, or coldly techno-ish (only the girl in the middle succeeded). And despite Perry's albun cover looks just as artsy... it isn't. It's good old fashioned 2000s pop. Thank you.
And it comes to no surprise that her music videos share the same goofiness and silly humor as the late 90s / early 2000s offered. In "Swish Swish" she portrays a clumsy basketball player in an extemely weak team, but when ...more - Martin_Canine

4 Lollipop (Candyman) - Aqua

Oh yeah, space and scifi were a main source of inspiration for bubblegum dance music videos, but this one stands out. It has the trashiest and most fun outfit of all, not only because of the extremely colorful wigs of Lene, there is also a toy robot, a spaceship that would make Ed Wood jealous, vegetable-aliens trying to kidnap the Candyman, and this overall carneval/LARP like feel to the action.
Damn, Aqua were inventive. They basically invented this subgenre and all its aesthetics, and they weren't just performing, they were a group who also wrote and composed while other groups were basically just the faces and high pitched vocals for a producer's idea. - Martin_Canine

5 Toxic - Britney Spears

When I was a kid, "Toxic" was one of the first songs I deeply loved, and I was also fascinated by its music videos. It shows Britney as some kind of secret agent/action heroine that first disguises as a stewardess, then climbs buildings, dances her way through lasers, demasks the bad guy, and more. I mean... could this be any more exciting?
Again, I'm sounding like an old man, but can we get back to this amount of fun in music videos? every time an artist tries I feel they get bashed for it... - Martin_Canine

6 Space Invaders - Hit'n'hide

"Lollipop (Candyman)" in light. Jeanne's hairstyle in this is amazing. Like, one of my favorite of all time, wig or not. Obviously, a lot of bubblegum dance video directors are fand of trashy ripoffs of Star Trek, but I am glad they are. I don't think there was a better time and place for being weird and nerdy than in Central Europe in the late 90s where every video looked like straight out of LazyTown. Then again, I was just barely born, I wouldn't know. - Martin_Canine

7 Larger Than Life - Backstreet Boys

What I like about this is that it's basically like the Aqua and Hit'n'Hide scifi trash videos but on a Hollywood scale. It's full of high tech gimmicks and cyberpunk aesthetics, so excessively celebrating everything the late 90s / early 2000s were fascinated about regarding cyberspace and A.I. that it feels like opening a time capsule which in turn contains what they thought the future looked like. The video is set in the year 3000, but it's 2000 in a nutshell. If you look at it carefully, it's just as much a collection of scifi stereotypes as "Lollipop (Candyman)" is but this is actually meant to look like the newest blockbuster.

There's another thing I noticed. Around that time, several pop songs underwent minor changes for the music videos. For examples, in this version the beat stops as the second verse begins, on the album it doesn't, also there's sound effects added when the choir sings, and a little drum break replaces a guitar solo. The average listener wouldn't notice ...more - Martin_Canine

8 Butterfly -

I don't know if this even counts as a live action music video. It has such thick layers of colorful yet cheap CGI it looks like a toddler's animated show from 2000, but the two (awesomely dressed) singers are in it, strolling through bright green weadows with butterflies, so I guess it counts. - Martin_Canine

9 Without Me - Eminem

In this music video, Eminem mockingly portrays a superhero that remotely resembles Robin that's on a mission to prevent a kid from listening to his album due to its explicit lyrics. This video is a bit different from the rest of the videos I added because it actually has a certain background, as it mocks overly worried parents. - Martin_Canine

10 Work It - Missy Elliott

At this point I noticed something: barely any artist directs their own music videos. Then why do so many have a very distinctive style even though having various directors? From her debut album up to her infrequent 2010s music videos, Missy Elliott is known for creatively weird music videos. Sometimes it's artful, sometimes funny, yet it always has that certain surreal approach. In "Work It", she's swallowing a toy car, a white judge turns black after a hit, she's surrounded by bees, dancing on a playground, wearing a stupid cone head in class, and other stuff that often seems silly. - Martin_Canine

The Contenders

11 Bad Blood - Taylor Swift

Where do I begin?

12 Good Stuff - The B52's
13 Loverboy - Billy Ocean
14 Down Under - Men at Work
15 It's Gonna Be Me - *nsync
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