David Bowie, ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’
Proving (almost) definitively that David Bowie and Tilda Swinton are not the same person, the new music video for Bowie’s “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” is a master class in androgyny, featuring performances by two supermodels, Andrej Pejic and Saskia De Brauw, who also look eerily like the singer and the Oscar-winning actress. Directed by Floria Sigismondi, the video tells the story of two celebrities (Pejic and De Brauw) who disrupt the lives of a dowdy couple (Bowie and Swinton) when they move in next door. So what does it all mean? According to Bowie’s Facebook page, the video “at once captures a twenty-first century moment in its convergence of age, gender and the normal/celebrity divide.”
Michael Jackson, ‘Remember the Time’
More than 20 years before David Bowie used supermodels in “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” his wife, Iman, appeared in the video for Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time.” Directed by John Singleton, the short film stars Eddie Murphy as a pharaoh and the supermodel as his bored queen. After some lame acts (announced by Magic Johnson) are brought in as entertainment, the King of Pop sings and dances for several minutes. And it’s a thriller.
Billy Joel, ‘Uptown Girl’
Although the song was initially inspired by Billy Joel’s supermodel girlfriend Elle MacPherson, he altered it— “Uptown Girls” became “Uptown Girl”—for the woman who became his second wife, Christie Brinkley. And it’s Brinkley who stars in the iconic 1983 video as a model who meets the “downtown guy” at a gas station. While Brinkley’s line dancing is laughable in the video, she later went on to star in the Broadway version of Chicago on Broadway—in Midtown.
Chris Isaak, ‘Wicked Game’
Among the sexiest music videos of all time, Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” was directed by photographer Herb Ritts and features the singer snuggling on the beach with a topless Helena Christensen. Shot in black and white, with clever angles that obscure any nudity, the soulful video won three awards at the 1991 MTV Music Video Awards.
Duran Duran, ‘Girl Panic’
Having pioneered the use of models in music videos in the ’80s and ’90s—including Christy Turlington in “Notorious” —Duran Duran returned to the gimmick in a big way for its “Girl Panic” video in 2011. Featuring supermodels portraying the band members—Naomi Campbell as Simon LeBon, Cindy Crawford as John Taylor, Eva Herzigova as Nick Rhodes, and Helena Christensen as Roger Taylor (with a cheeky cameo by LeBon’s wife, supermodel Yasmin LeBon, declaring that she’s not a member of Duran Duran)—the women are interviewed about the rock star life. But getting “The Supers” together was not easy. As Simon LeBon told Sky News, “Cindy was the first to say yes. Naomi said, ‘Yes, but I’m very busy’—that was a difficult one because she has such an incredibly full schedule.” And Taylor admitted, “Naomi was a little late arriving and as soon as she arrived she had to be taken away to her own room and we thought, hmmm, is this going to be one of those Naomi days? But I have to say she walked out there and she nailed it—and you just go ‘superstar’—that is what she is.”
The White Stripes, ‘I Just Don’t What to Do With Myself’
Having appeared in music videos for several artists—including Elton John, Johnny Cash and Oasis—Kate Moss delivered her sultriest performance in the 2003 video for The White Stripes’ cover of “I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself.” Directed by Sofia Coppola, the black-and-white video features Moss pole dancing. As for how she came up with the concept, Coppola told The New York Times, “I said, ‘I don’t know—how about Kate Moss doing a pole dance?’ I said that because I would like to see it. That’s the way I work: I try to imagine what I would like to see.”
Jay-Z, ‘Change Clothes’
In the video for Jay-Z’s “Change Clothes,” Naomi Campbell and other models walk the runway and, yes, change clothes. (As does the rap star, for that matter.) Campbell even mouths the words in the Chris Robinson-directed video, and when it’s all over she takes a bow.
Fountains of Wayne, ‘Stacy’s Mom’
In the classic pervy video for “Stacy’s Mom,” Fountains of Wayne sings about a MILF who’s “got it going on” while a teen boy has wildly inappropriate fantasies about her. With references to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Lolita, and the New Wave band The Cars, the video features supermodel Rachel Hunter in the titular role and has a fitting comeuppance at the end—young Stacy walks in on her friend during a solo performance.
Guns ‘N’ Roses, ‘November Rain’
In the video for Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “November Rain,” one of the most expensive ever produced, Axl Rose marries his then-girlfriend, supermodel Stephanie Seymour. It doesn’t end well. The nine-minute rock operetta, which is based on a short story by Del James and is intercut with concert footage, soon moves to Seymour’s open-casket funeral. Their real-life relationship didn’t last much longer—the couple broke up the next year and Seymour began dating the man who became her second husband, billionaire Peter Brant.
George Michael, ‘Freedom’
The ne plus ultra of supermodel videos, George Michael’s “Freedom,” featured Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, and Naomi Campbell at the height of their superpowers. Directed by David Fincher, the video depicted the women lip-syncing to Michael’s anthem while three symbols of his career—a jukebox, a guitar, and the leather jacket from his “Faith” video—are destroyed. There are also top male models in the video—not that anyone noticed.