MTV is celebrating their 30th anniversary this month - hard to believe that it's been 30 years already. Sure, the reality-show based MTV of late is much different than the pure "music" television that first debuted in 1981 - but there's still a little music going on in the midst of all the "gym, tan, laundry". Take a look back, and check out the #1 video from each of the 30 years that MTV has been around. Which is your favorite?

  • '81



    Believe it or not, they actually refer to this as the first "rap" video that ever aired on MTV. Anytime you've got Uncle Sam, Fab Five Freddy, and a goat - it's bound to be interesting.

  • '82

    I Love Rock & Roll

    Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

    This video was actually shot in color originally, but they changed it due to a complaint from Joan about how her red leather jacket looked on camera.

  • '83


    Michael Jackson

    This was the first "blockbuster" video, probably the most influential music video of all-time, and it definitely put MTV on the map. 14 minutes long - and actually came with an hour-long documentary about the making of the video. MTV paid $250,000 for the right to air the documentary at the time, which was huge at the time - but would be chump change now.

  • '84



    This was Madonna's first top 10 hit - and the exposure that MTV gave the video really launched her career. Lots of people credit this video for breaking the taboo of interracial relationships at the time.

  • '85

    Dancing In The Dark

    Bruce Springsteen

    This ended up being one of Bruce's biggest hits. Look closely, the girl being pulled onstage for a dance should be familiar - she's Courtney Cox. This was the second video to be directed by a major Hollywood director (Brian DePalma) - the first being 'Thriller' a couple years back with John Landis.

  • '86

    Greatest Love Of All

    Whitney Houston

    Ah, pure & unspoiled Whitney. This was shot at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater in New York City, and features a cameo from Whitney's mom, Cissy.

  • '87

    I Wanna Dance With Somebody

    Whitney Houston

    This is probably her best-known video, and got tons of play on MTV, VH1, and BET - the song (and the video) really solidified her career. Until that whole Bobby Brown/Crack thing.

  • '88

    Don't Worry, Be Happy

    Bobby McFerrin

    If you ever heard the album version, you'll notice that the video version is considerably shorter. Robin Williams makes a cameo - and it's the first a cappella song to reach #1 on the Billboard chart. Sadly, Bobby was destined for one-hit-wonder-ville, as was a lot of stuff on MTV back in the day.

  • '89

    Express Yourself


    Madonna kept rolling with the "Like A Prayer" album, which included this - the video picked up a ton of awards and was seen as one of the most influental videos of its time. It was probably the point of change for Madonna's image that she's most remembered for.

  • '90

    U Can't Touch This

    M.C. Hammer

    M.C. Hammer in his glory days, which were fairly short-lived. This was responsible for the Rick James lawsuit, claiming that Hammer ripped off "Super Freak" without permission (which he did). Rick got added to the song as co-composer and was able to share in Hammer's millions. He's Rick James, bitch!

  • '91

    Losing My Religion


    R.E.M.'s record company forbids embedding of the original video for some reason - this is a copy of their MTV 'Unplugged' performance. The original cleaned up that year though, with 9 nominations and 6 moon-men at the MTV Video Music Awards.

  • '92


    Pearl Jam

    Music was changing rapidly back in the early 90's, as the Seattle sound started permeating everything - including MTV. Pearl Jam scored big that year with "Jeremy", and actually backed away from making music videos afterwards, saying that they didn't want their songs to be remembered as videos. "Jeremy" caused a little controversy on MTV, and was referenced as the inspiration behind a Washington state school shooting. After the Columbine shooting in 1999, MTV and VH1 all but stopped airing it, and started to edit it out of their "Best Of The 90's" countdown-type shows.

  • '93

    No Rain

    Blind Melon

    Who could forget our introduction to the Blind Melon "Bee Girl". Many years later on VH1's "Behind The Music", it was revealed that now-deceased singer Shannon Hoon was on LSD during the video shoot.

  • '94

    Basket Case

    Green Day

    This was Green Day's second music video, actually - but pretty much owned MTV in 1994. They shot it in an actual mental institution in California in black & white, and added the color later - which added to the surreal effect of the video.

  • '95

    You Oughta Know

    Alanis Morrisette

    Alanis pretty much grabbed 1995 by the reins and took over. This song was reportedly written about her failed relationship with Dave Coulier, which Dave himself actually agrees might be the case. Other candidates speculated upon were Bob Saget, hockey player Mike Peluso, actor Matt LeBlanc, and musician/producer Leslie Howe, who all passed in and out of Alanis's life. Regardless of the inspiration, jilted women everywhere made this their anthem that year.

  • '96

    Big Me

    Foo Fighters

    This is back during the debut of the Foo Fighters, when Dave Grohl played all instruments on the original album himself, and was trying to shake the comparisons to his former band, Nirvana.

  • '97

    The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

    Missy Elliott

    I'm still not 100% convinced that this video should have beaten out Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money, Mo Problems", which had the #2 slot that year. Still, a good old-school jam from Missy.

  • '98

    I Want You Back


    Between the overseas and U.S. releases, they actually made 3 videos for this song. It's what pretty much introduced N'Sync to the world, and eventually launched Justin Timberlake into the stratosphere.

  • '99

    Genie In A Bottle

    Christina Aguilera

    This was the video that put Christina on the map - and started a lot of controversy among many who thought she was too young to be dressed in the suggestive outfits. (She eventually had to re-record the track for Radio Disney, where she still had several younger fans.)

  • '00

    Oops, I Did It Again

    Britney Spears

    The new millennium kicked off with one of Britney's signature songs, featuring a video of Ms. Spears in a red latex catsuit, dancing on Mars. Yeah, that'll work.

  • '01

    U Don't Have To Call


    This was responsible for Usher's 2nd Grammy award, and featured a cameo from Diddy.

  • '02


    Christina Aguilera

    Director David LaChappelle summed this up as a "post-apocalyptic orgy", and it stirred up plenty of controversy for Christina, who was trying desperately to break out of the Disney/manufactured image and grow up. Mission accomplished, you won't be seeing a screening of this between Hannah Montana episodes.

  • '03

    Hey Ya


    Love this video - it launched Atlanta duo Big Boi and Andre 3000, better known as OutKast. The theme was based around the Beatles' landmark appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Ice cold!

  • '04


    Britney Spears

    Britney continued to push the envelope, in the naked-diamond outfit. This was right after Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl, which got "Toxic" relegated to the 10pm - 6am time slot on MTV.

  • '05

    Since U Been Gone

    Kelly Clarkson

    From Kelly's second post-Idol album, this video took home "Best Female Video" and "Best Pop Video" at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards.

  • '06


    Justin Timberlake

    They shot this video in Spain, and it was directed by the same guy who did Madonna's "Take A Bow" video - which Justin credited as one of his favorites.

  • '07


    Avril Lavigne

    This was also in the early days of YouTube, and at the time, it was the most viewed video on the site - and became the first video to crack the 100 million view mark. However, it's said that a lot of that was due to a web link posted by an Avril fansite, which would automatically reload the link every 15 seconds.

  • '08

    No One

    Alicia Keys

    Overall, this was Alicia's debut and her biggest hit - this dominated at MTV and elsewhere a few years ago.

  • '09

    Video Phone

    Beyonce & Lady Gaga

    They shot this in Brooklyn under tight security - with Gaga being very specific that she didn't want to be "typical" (as "typical" as Lady Gaga could be). She wanted to be her own version of Beyonce - and says that they were actually calling her Gee-yonce on set.

  • '10

    California Gurls

    Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg

    This video and song owned last year - a cool "Candyland"-inspired concept featuring Snoop Dogg. Katy actually used Wikipedia to research what West Coast rapper she wanted to collaborate with before choosing Snoop.