It was a time of visionaries—on both sides of the camera lens. In 1998, era-defining directors including Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry, and Hype Williams were putting their highly stylized twists on artists like Madonna and Busta Rhymes, expanding the creative possibilities of music videos in the process. MTV dictated what audiences saw back then, but some of the year’s best visuals took advantage of the platform, beaming striking images into the homes of millions of teenagers worldwide. Many of those clips combined ingenious special effects to profoundly dramatic ends, while others took a cinéma vérité approach toward a local scene long before YouTube and WorldStar, or else cast a fisheye lens on a hypercolor future that hasn’t quite arrived yet. Each video in our top 10 is a dazzling display of sound and vision, and you can watch all them below.
10. OutKast: “Rosa Parks”
Director: Gregory Dark
OutKast’s Aquemini is the best album of 1998, and “Rosa Parks” is its triumphant visual manifestation. Big Boi and Andre 3000 playfully lay out the video’s concept at the outset, a mix of muscle cars and “space, futuristic-type things,” and director Gregory Dark somehow makes it all a brashly colorful reality. With both man-from-Saturn costumes and a marching band stepping past the local barber shop, it’s a testament to the outsized creative ambitions of the era’s most restlessly forward-thinking duo.