MTV turned 40 this past weekend. In honor of MTV’s birthday, Rolling Stone dropped their top 100 videos of all time list. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson was number ten, Childish Gambino’s “This is America” came in at number four and Madonna’s “Vogue” was at number three. (Here’s a link to just the list.) Beyoncé’s “Formation” video won the number one spot and is the best video of all time according to Rolling Stone. I have so many thoughts but lets discuss them after these few details about the list from Revolt:
The Melina Matsoukas-directed “Formation” video came as a surprise the day before Queen Bey was set to headline the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. With its powerful messages about Black culture, its debut during Black History Month was not only strategic, but fitting. In the music video, Beyoncé addressed issues of police brutality, remembered Hurricane Katrina and danced over lyrics that flaunted her Black pride, her country roots and her Creole background.
The song and music video sparked backlash from conservatives and politicians, who called the Houston native out for allegedly spreading anti-police messages.
Despite the negative reactions, the visual helped Bey bring home a few awards, including six wins at the MTV Video Music Awards and the Best Music Video award at the 2017 Grammys. Billboard named “Formation” the best music video of the 2010s, and now, Rolling Stone is praising the visual as well.
“In under five minutes, Beyoncé moves from a plantation-style house where the Black denizens are the masters not the slaves to the top of a sinking police car,” the magazine wrote. “If Beyoncé’s self-titled visual album established her as one of the greatest artists of all time, her surprise-released ‘Formation’ video (and ensuing album Lemonade) marked her as one of the most important.”
I am not a card carrying member of the Beyhive, but I admit that I have been loving Beyoncé’s art these last few years and her evolution as a person and an artist. So of course, I had to have a discussion with a group of friends about this announcement. We all agreed that there are better videos that should have been number one and definitely in the top ten. In fact, we agreed that there are better Beyoncé videos than “Formation.” Honestly, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” “Remember the Time,” and “Scream” videos alone should have been number one, two, and three. And “Hold Up,” “Sorry,” and a few from Black is King are better than “Formation.” Missy Elliot also had several amazingly creative videos (“The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” was number 16) and few 80s rockers did too. I agree “Formation” was a Black cultural reset but the entire Lemonade album produced a few video bops. I am not sure what the criteria was for Rolling Stone but they definitely missed the mark on some of these. With all of that being said, I am celebrating the fact that one of Houston’s hometown sheroes is being recognized for her work and art.
Photos via Instagram, screenshots from YouTube