Music videos used to be appointment television. When Michael Jackson announced a new video, it would literally be a half-hour event that had the whole world enraptured. There was an art to making music videos.
Still even today, there are entertainers who are meticulous about the visuals they present with their audio treasures. As we eagerly await the 2020 BET Awards (June 28 at 8 pm EST), let’s take a look at the past Video of the Year winners.
Rural Black life is the theme of Outkast’s 2001 BET Awards Video of the Year winner. The crisp videography, choreography, and animal life serve as a precursor to the 2006 musical Idlewild starring the famous hip hop duo.
If you have Busta Rhymes alone, you already know it’s going to be a party. Adding Pharrell and Diddy to the mix? It’s officially a problem. The “Pass the Courvoisier, Part II” video was a club vibe from beginning to end. There’s even a nod to Eddie Murphy’s film Harlem Nights and an appearance by Mr. T of all people.
Erykah Badu shows love to all things 80s with the Kangols, breakdancing, and boomboxes taking center stage. She does a cute freestyle in the middle egged on by MC Lyte and her then-boyfriend Common drops a verse reminiscent of his classic track “I Used to Love Her.”
The video “Hey Ya” by Outkast was a colorful ode to American Bandstand type performances from the 1960s. The track is off of the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which won the Album of the Year Grammy in 2004.
The fire next time. Doves. Grueling desert drudgery. The KKK. A persnickety halo. Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” video has it all.
The competition was so tight at the 2006 BET Awards that Mary J. Blige and Kanye West took home the same prize for Video of the Year for “Be Without You” and “Gold Digger”, respectively.
When you’re done, you’re done. In the video for Beyoncé’s 2007 over it anthem “Irreplaceable,” she is too through with her handsome, cheating partner. Boy, bye!
Being the first out of the crew to get married can be a harrowing task and UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You)” perfectly chronicles that. Keep yo’ heart.
If you were in the clubs in 2009, Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” was THEE song to get all the women on the dance floor. Inspired by Bob Fosse, the video’s choreography had a stranglehold on dance moves for quite some time.
What do you get when you put together two entertainers who are known for putting on elaborate performances? You get Video of the Year with Beyoncé’s “Video Phone” featuring Lady Gaga.
It was a party. That’s it. That was the vibe.
This was the time when Jay-Z and Kanye West were bromancing all over the globe with their Watch the Throne tour. The video for "Otis" features the pair riding around in a mutilated (and wildly expensive) Maybach.
Everyone’s favorite Canadian rapper has compelling visuals in his fun, movie-like video for “Started from the Bottom.”
Pharrell Williams had THEE song of the year with “Happy.” The song topped the Billboard charts and swept every award available. When the video was released, it was billed as the world’s first 24-hour video. It featured the song on repeat as people all over the world danced to it.
All the goofy stuff you do in the mirror when you’re by yourself or when it’s just you and your girls? That’s Beyoncé’s “7/11” video and it’s a fun ride.
When Beyoncé dropped the Lemonade album as a surprise, the entire world took notice. The short film that accompanied it was also a cultural moment. How many Halloween costumes featured that wide brim had and braids that year?
In 2017, Beyoncé continued to dominate with her Lemonade album singles and Bruno Mars hopped on with his infectious “24K Magic” hit that kids and adults seem to love.
The video for “God’s Plan” showcases Drake’s charitable side. Everyday people are in the spotlight as Drake doles out nearly a million dollars to those in need.
Donald Glover’s video for “This is America” is layered, complex, and compelling. The visuals for the Grammy Award-winning track inspired mounds of think pieces and brunch conversations.
(Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)