Some music videos are short films. They have a plot and character development with a budget to match. With millions of dollars spent on them, they are more expensive than your favorite indie flick. If you want to see just how much they cost, take a look at Bo McCready’s fascinating infographic ranking the most expensive music videos of all time. In an extensive list, he organizes the highest cost to the lowest cost (which is still pretty pricey) using data from Wikipedia.
So, what video takes the top spot? That honor goes to Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s 1995 hit “Scream” which is a futuristic black-and-white music video that set a Guinness World Record for being the most expensive short film ever made. It cost a staggering $11.9 million (adjusted) to produce. Not far behind is Madonna’s “Express Yourself” at $10.4 million.
McCready was inspired to create the data visualization while watching the show Dave starring actor Lil Dicky and reading his Wikipedia page. “I noticed that he was responsible for one of the most expensive videos and remembered many of the others listed from my childhood,” he tells My Modern Met. “Lots of my creative data work starts by falling down a Wikipedia rabbit hole!”
That rabbit hole led to some surprises. “Probably my biggest surprise was that certain notoriously ‘big’ videos like [Michael Jackson’s] ‘Thriller’ didn't rank higher. I think this really reinforces the high cost of CGI vs. practical effects that can be tough to pull off but don't cost nearly as much.”
This graphic is far from the only one that McCready has created. “A lot of us who do data visualization as a hobby work in analytics, business intelligence, and/or data science,” he explains. “It's a lot of fun to use the same tools we master during our day jobs for something more creative. I come from generations of visual artists and I'm married to one as well, and while I may not have the same talents as them, this is my creative outlet.”