As Madonna‘s “Bitch I’m Madonna” video has once again proven this week, people love music videos that are jam-packed with their favorite celebrities. The clip for the Rebel Heart single features Madonna welcoming some of music’s biggest stars into her technicolor world, as Beyonce, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry share screen time while declaring that bitch, they, too, are Madonna.
Why Madonna’s ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ Video Is the Video She Needed to Make
“Bitch I’m Madonna” is only the latest music video to receive the night-of-many-stars treatment: Michael Jackson was doing it a quarter-century ago, and artists like Katy Perry, Jay Z, Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift have all opened their Rolodexes to produce the most dazzling visuals possible. Here’s a brief history of musical artists putting an outrageous number of celebrities in their music videos, and whether or not the music videos helped their respective songs become hits:
Michael Jackson, “Liberian Girl”
Cameos: Paula Abdul, Steven Spileberg, John Travolta, Whoopi Goldberg & About 80 Others
The golden example of a star-studded music video: one of the more forgettable Bad singles was given a music video with a mind-boggling number of Jackson’s celebrity friends. Whoa, is that Steve Guttenberg? And Virginia Madsen? And MJ’s chimpanzee, Bubbles? Yes, yes and yes.
Was It A Hit? Although Bad boasts a record-tying five No. 1 singles, “Liberian Girl” was not one of them, since it was never released as a U.S. single. Three years later, Jackson called up a few more famous pals for his music video for “Remember The Time,” which was a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100 in 1992.
George Michael, “Freedom ’90”
Cameos: Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Mario Sorrenti & more
After exploding as a solo artist with Faith in 1987, George Michael was done with the cameras by the time he released his follow-up, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, in 1990. As a result, director David Fincher cast the video for “Freedom ’90” with various supermodels, but Michael didn’t show up himself.
Was It A Hit? Definitely: the radio edit of the single took off and reached No. 8 on the Hot 100 chart, becoming one of Michael’s last real hits before his self-imposed hiatus in the early 90’s.
Johnny Cash, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”
Cameos: Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Chris Martin, Sheryl Crow, Bono, Adam Levine, Chris Rock & more
Three years after Johnny Cash’s death, his cover of “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” was giving a loving visual tribute that featured a slew of celebrities looking somber (and wearing black, of course).
Was It A Hit? No, but the video became a must-see in 2006 and when it finally arrived on YouTube, where it has 26 million views, in 2009.
Jay Z, “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is…)”
Cameos: Nas, Mariah Carey, Rick Ross, Diddy, Swizz Beatz, Beanie Sigel & more
The best song from Jay’s overlooked 2007 album American Gangster portrays a young Hov on the come-up and the modern mega-star hanging with some of his closest confidantes at a party you wish you were invited to.
Was It A Hit? Nope: “Roc Boys” was nowhere near as successful as Jay Z’s biggest hits from 2003’s The Black Album or 2009’s The Blueprint 3, although its video remains one of his most-viewed on YouTube.
Duck Sauce, “Barbra Streisand”
Cameos: Kanye West, Andre 3000, Pharrell Williams, Questlove, Santigold & more
Armand Van Helden and A-Trak’s wacky DJ duo got a lot of famous hip-hop artists to declare the words “Barbra Streisand” on camera in 2010. Sadly, the real Babs did not make it into the video.
Was It A Hit? “Barbra Streisand” became an unlikely dance hit around the globe, and even received a Grammy nomination for best dance recording. The presence of household names in its music video surely helped the song raise awareness and push to the top of the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
Katy Perry, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”
Cameos: Darren Criss, Rebecca Black, Hanson, Corey Feldman, Debbie Gibson & more
For her music-video homage to the John Hughes era, Katy Perry called upon some 80’s idols as well as an oddball smattering of contemporary stars. Yes, that is Kenny G playing the saxophone.
Was It A Hit? Yes, and an important one: “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” became Perry’s fifth Hot 100 No. 1 single from her Teenage Dream album, which tied the record previously set by Michael Jackson’s Bad album. Along with the star-filled music video, a remix featuring Missy Elliott helped generate interest in the fifth single from Teenage Dream.
Beastie Boys, “Make Some Noise”
Cameos: Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Elijah Wood, Will Arnett, Ted Danson, Amy Poehler, countless others
The first single from the Beastie Boys’ final album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, was a hilarious salute to the group’s iconic hit “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party),” with Rogen, McBride and Wood causing mayhem as the Beasties’ stand-ins.
Was It A Hit? Not really, although the music video has earned close to 10 million views on YouTube thanks to the colorful concept and can-you-spot-the-celeb appeal. Tragically, the group’s Adam “MCA” Yauch passed away one year after the video’s release.
Paul McCartney, “Queenie Eye”
Cameos: Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, James Corden & more
Paul McCartney still knows how to drum up attention for a new single: in addition to a music video that featured a solemn Johnny Depp rocking out to “Queenie Eye” on an iPod, Macca performed the song at the Grammys with his Beatles mate Ringo Starr on drums.
Was It A Hit? Not especially, although McCartney isn’t really aiming for the pop charts anymore (unless Kanye West or Rihanna is involved).
Pharrell Williams, “Happy”
Cameos: Jamie Foxx, Steve Carell, Magic Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel & more
For his Despicable Me 2 soundtrack single, Pharrell launched a “24-hour music video” that included a bunch of celebrities popping up throughout the day to sing along to the looped track.
Was It A Hit? Absolutely, although not necessarily because of the music video. “Happy” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart four months after the imaginative clip was released in November 2013, and ruled spring 2014 on pop radio before being crowned the No. 1 Hot 100 song of last year.
Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood”
Cameos: Kendrick Lamar, Selena Gomez, Hayley Williams, Karlie Kloss, Ellie Goulding & more
Taylor Swift teased her action-packed “Bad Blood” clip for weeks before it was finally unveiled — with a new Kendrick Lamar-assisted remix, no less — to kick off the 2015 Billboard Music Awards telecast.
Was It A Hit? Big time: the music video made America fall in love with “Bad Blood” seven months after the release of 1989, and the song shot to No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart soon after the video premiere, giving Swift her fourth career chart-topper.