Coldplay, Bob Dylan and the techiest music videos ever

With Coldplay releasing an incredible interactive video/game for Ink, we look back at breathrough moments in music television

Yes yes yes. We get it. You hate Coldplay because they are lame and you are cool, but just shut up for a second, they’ve done something pretty amazing. Instead of releasing a standard music video for the song Ink (from the album Ghost Stories) they have produced a gorgerous, animated, interactive epic.


A shipwreck survivor washes up on a mysterious island in search of his lost love. Throughout, fans make decisions that effect how the story progresses. It’s a modern, musical update to the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. Do you choose the compass or the pocket knife? Do you go left or right? There are 300 different scenarios to see, but then you would have to listen to the song 300 times…

It’s a sign of how inventive and ambitious music videos have become. Here are some more breakthrough technical moments in musical history, from the very beginning to when Instagram killed the video star.

Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen (1975)

One day there will be a list of music videos that doesn’t feature Bohemian Rhapsody, but today is not that day. As the father of the modern music video it was already innovative, but it’s worth bearing in mind that all of the effects were completed live rather than added later. Special lenses were fitted to the cameras for the famous ‘honeycomb’ moment, and the impressive infinite mirror effect was achieved by filming directly off a television screen. Crude methods, but boy they worked well.

Ashes to Ashes, David Bowie (1980)

If Bohemian Rhapsody proved what was possible ‘in camera’, Bowie’s eulogy for the 1970s shows the fun you could have in post-production. On release it was the most expensive music video ever made, costing a whopping £250,000, and is a tour through each toy in the 1980’s toybox: featuring everything from solarisation to desaturation to clown costumes.

Money for Nothing, Dire Straits (1985)

The mid-1980s! What a time to be alive and producing music videos. The birth of MTV meant more money for them, resulting in massive technical experimentation. Dire Straits broke new ground in computer animation (no seriously) with Money for Nothing…

Take on Me, A-ha (1985)

…A-ha took the old Hollywood art of rotoscoping to new heights, tracing over 3,000 live-action frames to produce their sketchy romance…

Sledgehammer, A-ha (1986)

…and Aardman Animation (Wallace and Gromit) produced this stop-motion masterpiece. Filmed one frame at a time, Peter Gabriel was forced to lie under a glass sheet for 16 hours, and Nick Park had the uneviable task of hand-animating two rancid chicken carcasses under hot studio lights.

All is Full of Love, Bjork (1998)

Look at the Dire Straits video again. Now watch this stunning story of robotic love. Incredible, isn’t it? From boxy homophobes to photorealistic androids in just over a decade. Chris Cunningham, perhaps more famous for disturbing collaborations with Aphex Twin, directed this milestone in autobotic erotic art.

Happy, Pharrell Williams (2013)

It’s hard to impress modern jaded audiences with special effects, resulting in a new trend for interactive music videos. Pharrel’s Happy became an all-consuming international mega-hit, and was the perfect way to celebrate. A 24 hour music video, it shows members of the public dancing away to the song at all hours. Clicking around the clock to spot the celebrity cameos soon became a global obsession.

Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan (2013)


And finally, it’s a very old dog with a very new trick. Almost half a century after first releasing Like a Rolling Stone, Dylan finally got around to creating a music video. Actually, he made 16 of them. An entire TV schedule of people lip-syncing to the track, users can flick between history documentaries and game shows at their leisure. It’s clever and eerie and while supremely modern, works well with the classic song. It’s the ultimate Music Television.

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