Tuesday, August 25, 2015

LIST: Top 40 Dance Videos (Part Two)

Here we go, #30-21...

30. Ed Sheeran - Don't
Phillip "Pacman" Chbeeb is positively dripping with charisma - has been since his very first audition on So You Think You Can Dance. So what a treat it is to just watch him do his thing in this video. I'm not really a fan of Ed Sheeran, so I will often watch this with the volume turned waaaaaay down, but it's still incredible to watch as he walks around a California neighborhood in his patented liquid-like popping style.

29. Aaliyah - Try Again
I almost didn't remember that Aaliyah did a lot of dancing in her videos, but she did. And how. Actually, apparently there's an episode of The Mindy Project where Danny teaches Mindy the choreography from this video. That is totally random, but it actually makes sense. Fatima Robinson's choreography for this, while not exactly iconic, pulls the all-too-rare trick of becoming more and more intricate and interesting as it goes along, with most of the best stuff coming near the end. It's also completely unique. There isn't another music video with choreography that looks anything like this. Which makes it a perfect fit for the song, still totally unique after all these years.

28. Kazaky - What You Gonna Do
Kazaky's music is really made for the clubs (I don't enjoy it in any other setting), and usually, so are their videos: They have killer dance routines, but the videos cut them all to shit, so you can barely make out the fierce choreography. This one has the most interesting choreography the stiletto-ed Ukranians have ever performed (the stuff at the table is amazing), and continues to push gender norms past the traditional. Plus, they run in those gigantic spike heels. That is NOT easy.

27. Janet Jackson - All Nite (Don't Stop)
At nearly 40 years old, Janet showed up everyone in the game with this video, rocking some hardcore choreography that would trip up entertainers half her age, flaunting her world-class abs, and throwing in some girl-on-girl kissing that somehow doesn't feel exploitative for good measure. The concept of the video couldn't be any simpler - Janet and her dancers rehearse a number with no power, until the lights come back on towards the end - but the mileage they get out of some flashlights and Gil Duldulao's choreography is very impressive indeed. Sexy without being raunchy - a Janet trademark - this should have been a massive hit for her, but after her infamous wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl halftime show, her songs and videos were blacklisted by radio and MTV. It's easily one of her deepest beats, and her performance of the intricate choreography is INSANELY good. For proof, watch her do the entire routine live on SNL. DAMN.

26. Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time
It's not just the "slutty schoolgirl" outfits that make this video iconic, it's that strut down the hallway, what with Brit's come-hither eyes and weirdly sexy voice, simultaneously childishly nasal and (pre-)maturely smoky. She would later do more complicated, interesting stuff, but this was quite the launchpad. Plus, she does her own (gymnastic) stunts! It's almost impossible to believe that her label originally wanted the video to be animated. What would the world even look like today without this video?

25. Jennifer Lopez - Get Right
I wish there wasn't so much cutting away from the dancing, because this is probably J. Lo's best video routine. It's a pretty great video, though, so I let that slide. All the stuff with the cane (courtesy of choreographers the Talauega Brothers) is pretty damn fierce, and Jenny from the block makes it work better than anyone else probably could. The funky track is an ideal party starter, so setting the entire video in a club while DJ Jennifer Lopez spins the track is a perfect concept. She shows up everywhere in the club - behind the bar, in the VIP, in the bathroom - but it's the dance routine that plays on the club's TV screens that makes the biggest impression, the biggest impression any of her video routines ever made.

24. Aaliyah - Are You That Somebody?
Interesting hip-hop choreography is really difficult to do without resorting to b-boy/pop-and-lock tricks, but this video is like the exception that proves the rule. Fatima Robinson gets extra special bonus points for the choreography for the song's coda - a flamenco/tango-styled bit that is downright inspired in how it fits with Timbaland's strange, slinky, skittery beat. Dueling male-female choreography is also always a win.

23. Dirty Vegas - Days Go By
Kind of like the Ed Sheeran video above, but with an emotional core. A man dances in front of a diner as onlookers tell the story: He does this every year in an attempt to bring back his old love, who left him because he couldn't stop dancing. The choreography is perfectly in sync with the music - I don't think there could be a better visual representation of this song.

22. Janet Jackson - All For You
Probably my favorite Janet video when push comes to shove. The 2-D style of the sets is eye-catching and the dance routine is on POINT. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice the future Mrs. Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, as one of Janet's background dancers. The whole video perfectly captures the fun, throwback vibe of the song. I taught myself a lot of this routine, but I can't do it nearly as well as Janet can. The precision from the days of "Rhythm Nation" is still there, but there's also a looseness that creeps in that adds something to the choreography.

21. Britney Spears - Oops!... I Did It Again
If anyone who was a teenager when this video was released tells you they don't know the dance moves, they are LYING LIARS. And that's the truth. The choreography for the chorus is as iconic as that red catsuit, and not just by virtue of repetition. It's not really a lot of movement, so it's easy enough to teach it to yourself while watching. It's big and bold and memorable, kind of like the song.


  1. Sorry, I checked out the minute you said you listen to Ed Sheeran's music with the volume way down. Errr, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. LOL...LOVE HIM! In fact, I'm taking the family to see him in concert in two weeks!!!


    But, I love this post so much. Like, I remember so many of these videos growing up. J-Lo, Britney, Aaliyah!!!! UGH, the memories!

    1. LOL! I promise you it's (mostly) just that song that I don't like so much. He's just like Jason Mraz and other acoustic singer-songwriter types: Every once in a while they put out a song I freaking LOVE, and there are one or two songs I cannot stand, but mostly it's just nice background music that I could take or leave.

      OMG doing this list has been so much fun. The trip down memory lane watching these videos... it really takes me right back to high school.

  2. No, it really was just the.slutty schoogirl outfit that did it Btritney. Everything else was just an extension of that. Glad to see Aaliyah get lots of love. And I have lifelong crush on Janet Jackson so...yeah. Another great post.

    1. Thanks, Dell!

      Janet is just pure love. I ALMOST gave her the entire Top Ten (and maybe I should have?), but then I decided I just couldn't. Then I thought about making the list just the best Janet videos, but that felt too limited. But it was really hard putting her stuff anywhere but Top Ten. As it is she has six spots in the Top 40. She almost had seven, but I decided that just felt like too much.

      I know it was mostly the schoolgirl outfit for Britney, but seriously that walk is nearly impossible to copy. I don't know what she did, but it's like only she can do it right.

      Aaliyah... RIP. Watching her stuff for this really made me miss her and wonder what kind of stuff she would be doing today. Apparently she was really into the UK garage scene before that stupid plane accident. I wonder if she would have rendered Rihanna irrelevant.