In the world of popular music, music videos are essential ? along with live concerts and record promotions ? in order to succeed. The popularity of Total Request Live on MTV is an indication of the importance of the more recent advent of music videos for artists.

There are great songs that have horrible videos, which somehow take away from the song. There are also songs that are just OK but an awesome video propels them higher on the popularity charts. Then there are those rare cases when great songs have great music videos to go along with them ? that is when music lovers have their euphoria. Just look at Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” Janet Jackson’s “If,” Madonna’s “Vogue” and the more recent “Lady Marmalade,” if you want some random examples of music and video brilliance.

When discussing who’s hot in the most recent videos there are some new videos that come to mind right away. Teen-diva Britney Spears is back with her well-choreographed and sexually charged video for her first release from her self-titled album “I Am A Slave 4 U.” The video definitely brings the fairly catchy pop song to a higher level. Spears is in the prime of her career and whether or not critics approve of her really doesn’t matter. The video not only displays her fantastic dancing abilities but the sex appeal of the video is daring, catered to today’s youth and is very much reminiscent of Madonna in the ’80s.

Another hot new video is Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Jigga’s new album has definitely made it to the top, first with the hit “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and now with this new music video. I am not a fan of all hip-hop videos ? they’re all predictable, with ugly rappers and beautiful, scantily clad women. This video is standard in the sense that Jay-Z is one of the most popular rappers and it makes sense that he would choose to have these women in his video because the song is obviously about girls, girls and girls.

It may be easier for established artists to use music videos for a marketing advantage. But sometimes, some unknown artist can gain significant recognition via their videos. A prime example is the Brit-based Craig David who has definitely earned a place among the musical favorites in America with his video for “Fill Me In.” In the video, David has one very important thing attracting music lovers ? he uses himself. The 20-year-old star is a feast for the eyes. Viewers feel the song because in the video they can tell that Craig David feels it too.

Shakira, also new on the popular scene in the English-speaking world, takes her song “Whenever, Wherever” to a higher level on the charts with the video. She introduces us to a new, smooth and sexy, daring style of dancing, which is part Latin dance and part belly-dance ? an indication of her mixed Colombian and Lebanese heritage.

Videos should be their own entity and many artists decide to use them to make small movies. Michael Jackson is definitely one of those people. Jackson disappoints in the new video for “You Rock My World.” The video marking the return of the king of pop shows an attempt that the creators made to use every trick in the book to produce a hit. There are stars ? Chris Tucker and Marlon Brando.

This song is a perfect example of one that is good but could be propelled to new heights with a well-done video. The disappointment comes with Jackson himself. His dance moves are recycled from previous songs, which makes the video unoriginal and a disappointment after previous releases like the ground breaking “Scream” and “Bad.”

While on Jackson, sister Janet Jackson also recently released a new video for “Song Of A Gun” a hip duet with Carly Simon from her latest album “All For You.” For the music video, Janet also brought in Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot and premiered the remixed version. Talk about a great song gone to waste, it is not pleasing to the eye or the ear. It features Janet walking, a good-looking, black man running, Missy rapping and a bunch of people disguised with face paint and makeup as demons.

The result is that the original in the album, which is one of better tracks in “All For You,” is lost along with Carly Simon. Simon is not physically present, and her presence in the song is also lost in the video by Missy’s untimely rapping.

Another diva, Mariah Carey, recently premiered her video for “Don’t Stop (Funkin’ 4 Jamaica)” off the “Glitter” soundtrack. This song also features rapper Mystikal. Not Carey’s best video, yet the urban bar and lake scenery gives the video that extra oomph. The video also features three different Mariahs singing ? a definite style clip.

On the darker side, Tori Amos brings the weird and meaningful to the small screen with her video for “Strange Little Girl,” which plays with optical illusions. The video brings a different perspective on video-making.

Making a great video for a ballad is not easy. Can you think of any ballad video that is visually capturing? Many slow songs fall victim to badly-constructed videos such as Destiny’s Child’s “Emotion,” which is split into a three shots on the screen following each band member. The video for Alicia Keys’ “A Woman’s Worth” also suffers from that phenomenon. However, N’Sync’s video for “Gone” is subtly powerful. Black and white film and the inclusion of natural outtakes enhance the song without adding to much weight.

One of the better videos roaming around the MTV, VH-1 and BET offices is Aaliyah’s “Rock The Boat.” Jamaican dance moves match the atmosphere and clips of Aaliyah as a mermaid give the song a Caribbean beach ring.

We have come a long way from Olivia Newton-John’s groundbreaking ? at the time ? “Physical” video and have evolved through the Madonna years of consecutive memorable videos. Today artists clamor to get influential directors like Hype Williams or Herb Ritts to work on their video, which is an indication of the power the medium today.

Al-Qatami can be reached at, and Desai can be reached at

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