It's hard to imagine in the era of YouTube and Vevo certifications, but for a time after MTV stopped playing videos and before YouTube launched, it seemed music videos might become a thing of the past.
Gone were the days of shutting down Times Square for a music video premiere. No one was watching the VMAs anymore, and, oh, Lord, what would become of poor Carson Daly?
But YouTube changed all of that, and today music videos are more elaborate and, because of the freedom afforded by the internet, more explicit than ever. Combining that freedom with the anything-goes character of the Magic City can make for a dangerous combination — dangerous, but entertaining.
Here are some of the best, most creative, and most ridiculous music videos ever filmed in Miami.
10. Nelly featuring P. Diddy & Murphy Lee, “Shake Ya Tailfeather.”
From the Bad Boys II Soundtrack, the “Shake Ya Tailfeather” video is an ode to the gorgeous curvy women we celebrate in Miami, which is cool until Nelly, Diddy (Puffy? P. Diddy?), and Murphy Lee start catcalling them on Calle Ocho. At one point, Murphy Lee even follows one of the girls offscreen. Luckily, feminism won, and women no longer get catcalled or followed on Calle Ocho. Right? Objectification aside, the video also features shots of viejitos playing in Domino Park and fun on the sand at Crandon Park. So there's that.
9. Gloria Estefan, “Turn the Beat Around.”
It's only right that the voice of Miami Sound Machine and one of the city’s most beloved daughters would make it on our list of Miami's best videos. The video for the early ‘90s disco remake features scenes from the Raspberry Award winning film The Specialist projected onto the iconic Miami Tower. Despite this setback, the Miami Tower and Gloria Estefan have stood the test of time.
8. Nick Jonas, “Chains.”
Months after releasing a CG-heavy, dark, and dramatic video for his single “Chains,” it appears Nick Jonas realized he needed a lighter, more fun visual for the song and subsequently released a second video, titled “Chains (The Wynwood Walls Edition).” Not only is the eponymous outdoor gallery prominently featured in the video, but Jonas also rides around Wynwood in one of the area's famous glowing mushroom rickshaws while many of the colorful characters you meet in the area surround him in everything from Day of the Dead face paint to questionable Native American headdresses. Jonas himself does not escape unscathed. By the end of the video, he's covered head to toe in paint, as is tradition in Wynwood — along with $6 coffee and art you can't afford.
7. Aaliyah, “Rock the Boat.”
Although the making of this video led to the fatal plane crash that ended Aaliyah’s life at age 22, the video itself serves as one final reminder of her gifted artistry. The Hype Williams-directed video was mostly shot in the Bahamas, but its iconic underwater scenes were shot at FIU in Miami. In slow motion, Aaliyah swims toward the camera in vibrant makeup and reaches toward us while the sun’s rays illuminate her silhouette. She looks like an angel, and as we found out, she was one — far too soon.
6. The Lonely Island featuring T-Pain, “I’m on a Boat.”
In this sendup of Miami yacht party videos, Andy Samberg finds an offer for a free boat ride for three in his cereal box — so he invites his Lonely Island collaborator Kiv and, naturally, T-Pain. With the Miami skyline far off in the distance, they party in their swim trunks and flippy-floppies while you're at Kinko’s straight flipping copies. They climb buoys. They fuck mermaids. Anything is possible, y'all.
5. Will Smith, “Miami.”
Maybe we're biased, but with “Miami,” the man who doesn't have to cuss in his raps to sell records made one bearable song. (Alright, “Wild Wild West” was catchy, but that credit goes to Stevie Wonder.) Smith welcomes us to the city where the heat is on while hopping from luxury cars on South Beach to a speedboat that takes him to an epic outdoor party where he shows off some pretty impressive salsa moves in a silk magenta shirt and white pants. Luckily, a cameo from Eva Mendes mouthing the “Bienvenidos a Miami” refrain in the chorus gives the video some gravitas.
4. J. Lo, “Love Don't Cost a Thing.”
The TRL-era answer to “Can't Buy Me Love” opens with J. Lo alone in her expensive Miami Beach mansion on the phone with her lover, who has sent her a bracelet in lieu of showing up for date night. Tragic. J. Lo responds the only way she knows how, by driving her ass to Crandon Park and stripping herself of all the expensive gifts her man has given her, including the proverbial shirt off her back. She also finds time for the obligatory dance break in front a CG beach backdrop, which begs the question: Who needs a CG beach when they're shooting a video in Miami? Whatever the case, we hope you learned your lesson, Puffy. (Diddy? P. Diddy?)
3. Rihanna, “Needed Me.”
Released on April 20 of this year (yes, that's 4/20 — it's RiRi after all), “Needed Me” continues the murder spree of “Man Down” and “Bitch Better Have My Money” with a crime that could be featured on an episode of The First 48. Backed by the Miami skyline, we see Rihanna in a seafoam-colored, see-through beach dress and pearls holding a gun. She makes her way to one of Miami's many strip clubs, where the object of her scorn gets a lap dance in a private room. As a final affront, her former man throws a wad of hundreds in her face before she shoots him dead. Didn't she tell you she was a savage?
2. Beyoncé featuring Jay Z, “Drunk in Love.”
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Before there was Lemonade, Yoncé made an entire album about the joys of married sex. “Drunk in Love” was the filthy introduction that gifted us with terms like “surfbort” (If you don't know what it means, you're way late, and you need to go look it up on Urban Dictionary). Queen Bey reflected on the making of the video in Out magazine: “We were in Miami for Jay’s concert, and it was just the two of us, on the beach, amazing weather, and one outfit! It’s beautiful in its simplicity.”
1. Sisqo, “Thong Song.”
It's the video that launched a thousand middle-school dance boners. Sisqo’s video opens in another expensive mansion, where the Dru Hill alum ignores his daughter while talking business on the phone until she wags a red thong in his face and asks him what it is. Sisqo then drives to the beach in his luxury car to meet dozens of dancing women in thongs, which excites him to the point where he can perform death-defying stunts like leaping to the top of a human pyramid of male dancers and gliding above everyone's heads. His thong-spurred excitement culminates in a beach blacklight party complete with a string section, because of course. Sadly, his daughter probably still needs help with her homework.