John Mayer's 'New Light' & 8 More Music Videos That Risked Using Green Screen

John Mayer "New Light (Premium Content!)"
Courtesy Photo

John Mayer "New Light (Premium Content!)"

John Mayer just dropped a video for his summer bop "New Light," but it’s not your typical pop star production.

Mayer claims it was actually produced by one of those chintzy “you could be a star!” music video services, saying this: “I needed to make a video for 'New Light' but nobody could agree on a budget, so I went to a place downtown and made this with a company that usually does birthday and Bar Mitzvah videos.” The results certainly live up to that description, with Mayer romping through premade green-screen filters in pajama pants and a ratty purple hoodie.

It’s just another example of a music video going for a tacky green-screened method to comic effect, whether intentional or unintentional. Here are eight other music videos that took the plunge with green screen, for better or worse.

“Remember the Time” Sends Michael Jackson to a Very CGI Ancient Egypt

The video for Michael Jackson’s Dangerous cut, which peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100, was a high-tech sight to behold in 1991, but the effects are very clearly green-screen, kicking off with a shattered-hourglass visual that would be right at home on a Windows ME screensaver. Suddenly, the viewer is transported to the ancient world, where Iman plays a decadent Egyptian queen seated next to a pharaonic Eddie Murphy. “I want to be entertained,” Iman regally sighs, and she gets her wish courtesy of Jacko.

“Hooked on a Feeling” Features David Hasselhoff in the Sky, Sea and Snow

The Hoff has had his share of zany music video moments, from “Looking for Freedom” to “Jump in My Car.” but “Hooked on a Feeling,” his cover of B.J. Thomas’ 1968 pop hit, is certainly up there. Narrative logic or the basic laws of physics need not apply: Hasselhoff alternately flies on a Harley, hovers over a city skyline, cavorts with dangerous wildlife and comes crashing through the snow. Ooga chaka, ooga chaka.

Monster Magnet’s “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” Proves There’s Apathy on Mars

Goofy stoner metal mainstays Monster Magnet leaned heavy on the green screen for their Dopes to Infinity cut “Negasonic Teenage Warhead.” There’s a La-Z-Boy on the surface of an asteroid and even teeing off an interstellar golf round. Goldfish bowls and half-eaten Hostess pastries fly by. Far out!

AC/DC’s Sports-Themed “Play Ball” Clip Is the Original Band’s Last Inning

AC/DC’s 2014 album Rock or Bust is an album of “lasts” for the 20th century’s finest “rock”-themed rock band. It’s their last with longtime vocalist Brian Johnson, their last before founding guitarist Malcolm Young died and their last before Phil Rudd left the band in a midst of legal issues and a stint on house arrest. The video for the Bust single “Play Ball” shows the group in front of a green screen featuring, well, balls being played.

Hanson’s “MMMBop” Shoots for the Moon, Literally

The Tulsa, Oklahoma, pop-rockers have had a weirdly resonating career from the infectious 1997 hit “MMMBop” -- the band still plays it worldwide to this day. The accompanying video sends the boys, who were all between 11 and 16 at the time, to the 1969 moon landing to the sunny surf and back. Like all of Hasselhoff’s cinematic career, it’s a great example of just using every visual filter you can grab.

The Big-Budget Video for The Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life” Capitalizes on the Popularity of The Matrix

Inspired by Star Wars, Blade Runner and the just-released The Matrix, the Joseph Kahn-directed clip for The Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life” was a seriously expensive production. It features heavily choreographed dance numbers in a futuristic CGI setting -- no easy or cheap task on the video production line. In fact, the video for “Life” holds a Guinness World Record for the 14th most expensive music video of all time.

Michael and Janet Jackson Cut a Rug Aboard a Spacecraft

A dark backlash to the negative media coverage Michael Jackson had received in 1995, “Scream” debuts his darker persona alongside Janet Jackson. Shot in stark black-and-white with still-eye-popping visual effects, the siblings are depicted in an interstellar zone, but the mood on set was collaborative, jovial and down-to-earth. In an interview with MTV, Michael expressed that it was good to dance with his sister again and that it reminded him of “old times.”

The Darkness Face Down CGI Monsters in “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”

If you’re looking for some sort of unholy collision between Queen, Black Sabbath and David Bowie with a dose of cheapo horror-movie aesthetic, apply here. In the very green-screened video for the Permission to Land single “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” the Suffolk lads find themselves somewhere in between Krypton and the desert in which Homer Simpson met a Johnny Cash-voiced coyote after a chili-inspired mind trip, fighting off B-horror monsters all the way.


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