When MTV launched on August 1, 1981, the first music video it played was "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. What an awful video. In those days, all a music video needed was jiggly girls in bikinis, big hair, fast cars, and if you were lucky, jiggly girls with big hair driving fast cars. No huge costs, just a little something to complement the listening experience.

Then came along Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in 1983. "Thriller" wasn't a music video, it was a full-fledged crotch-grabbing experience. At 14 minutes long, "Thriller" suddenly opened the doors of creativity, proving that a music video could be more about the video and less about the music. Today, companies will spend millions of dollars to make a 3-minute video (most of it spent on computer animation and huge sets). We are proud to present a list of opulent indulgence: the 10 most expensive music videos of all time.

To be fair, though, we've instituted some ground rules:

  1. A group/artist can only appear once on the list. Known as the Michael Jackson Amendment, this rule makes the list a whole lot more interesting. But artists doing a one-time collaboration with others are fair game (allowing Janet Jackson to pop up 3 times).

  2. If the video is for a song from a movie, then it doesn't count. Otherwise, Celine Dion's warbling of "My Heart Will Go On" would win hands down (because it included expensive scenes from Titanic). To qualify, the images in the video must have been created solely for that video.

  3. Studios lie about how much they spend. They don't want to seem too wasteful, so our figures are probably a little off. But it's an interesting list anyway, so deal with it.

1. VIDEOS 10 - 8

10. "Girlfriend/Boyfriend"
Cost: $1,500,000+
Artist: Blackstreet (featuring Janet Jackson)

This video is completely computer animated, taking place inside a pinball machine. The basic "plot" is that Blackstreet and Janet Jackson feel like pinballs, bouncing uncontrollably through their lives, when it's all really just a game. What made it so expensive? Well, computer animation ain't cheap, and neither is Janet Jackson (the same cannot be said about sibling Latoya . . .)

  • Janet's wardrobe: $10,000
  • Blackstreet's wardrobe: $25,000
  • Janet's travel costs: $50,000
  • Blackstreet's travel costs: $200,000
  • 3-D animation costs: $600,000

9. "November Rain"
Cost: $1,500,000+
Artist: Guns N' Roses

An 11-minute video extravaganza, this video tells the supposed tale of singer Axl Rose and model Stephanie Seymour getting married, having a party, and living out their lives together until death. And all it took was 11 minutes? . . . A classy video that combines storytelling with live concert performances, Guns N' Roses actually paid for the video themselves, to insure that it looked as they envisioned.

  • Renting a symphony orchestra: $25,000
  • Specially constructed chapel: $150,000
  • Wedding dress: $8,000
  • Specially constructed coffin: $8,000

8. "Unpretty"
Cost: $1,600,000+
Artist: TLC

While their video "Waterfalls" was technologically more groundbreaking, "Unpretty" ended up costing more because the group argued over every little detail (almost doubling the projected cost). The story of the video starts out with women in a plastic surgeon's office contemplating breast implants, but they somehow get involved in a gang fight in a back alley. All the while, TLC sits on these weirdo floating pods while doing yoga chants. Nobody said these videos have to make sense . . .

  • Floating yoga pods: $60,000
  • Field of purple flowers: $50,000
  • Laptop computer animating breast enhancements: $63,000
  • Flying robot camera: $35,000
  • Hairstyling: $11,000
  • Makeup: $25,000
  • Costumes: $11,000