There is the scary music video, the disturbing music video…and the specifically paranoid music video. In paranoid music videos you might see such tropes as The Guys In Suits Who Chase You For No Specific Reason, Is This A Dream Or Is This A Shady Government Experiment?, and the ever-popular My Evil Clone Has Just Confronted Me Oh Holy Jesus Fuck.
Join me, won’t you?
10. “Jeopardy,” The Greg Kihn Band
What seems like just an ordinary wedding slowly turns into literally a Lovecraftian Evil Dead nightmare. Was it just pre-wedding jitters? Or did Greg Kihn really stumble onto the Hellmouth?
9. “Block Rockin’ Beats,” The Chemical Brothers
Are the duo who get relentlessly chased throughout this video hackers? Drug dealers? Government whistleblowers? And why did those dancing kids at the rave suddenly turn into hanging slabs of beef? It’s a conspiracy, I tell you!
8. “Who Can It Be Now?,” Men At Work
We get some streamlined, garden-variety paranoia in this video, as lead singer Colin Hay doesn’t want to leave his apartment or answer his door. “Is it the Man come to take me away?” Could be!
7. “We’re In This Together Now,” Nine Inch Nails
The proletariat (and Trent Reznor) run away en masse from the shadowy Menace. What is the nature of this threat? Is it Conformity? And is that the Rapture at the end? Despite his status as cool Rock God, Reznor is apparently useless during an Event-type situation.
6. “Everlong,” The Foo Fighters
It’s a dream-within-a-dream and a riddle-wrapped-up-in-an-enigma.
5. “Animal I Have Become,” Three Days Grace
Adam Gontier is inexplicably hunted down by his creepy motherfucker black-gaping-mouth-of-doom doppelganger Evil Adam Gontier. Can somebody go wake Adam out of his nightmare? He can’t control himself.
4. “Pressure,” Billy Joel
I was going to put Soundgarden’s video for “Blow Up The Outside World” on this list, but then somebody recommended to me that I check out this one by Joel—both of them having a startlingly similar Clockwork Orange vibe. But the Joel video has him getting sucked into a shag rug, so it wins.
3. “The Kill,” 30 Seconds To Mars
This homage to The Shining features Jared Leto’s evil twin Bandleader Jared Leto. And Jack Nicholson starred in the original Shining and he also played The Joker and Leto ALSO played the Joker so…WE ARE IN A COMPUTER SIMULATION!!!!
2. “Somebody’s Watching Me,” Rockwell
The gold standard of paranoid music videos, this one includes Weird Tall Guy Standing In A Diaper For No Reason, blood coming out of the shower, sinister taxidermy, and Michael Jackson doing backup vocals. Rockwell would follow up this hit with the song “Obscene Phone Caller”…see a pattern here?
1. “One,” Filter
This video has it all: not one but two doppelgangers, a menacing black cloud or wormhole in the sky, vials full of an undisclosed serum or virus, a gang of stalkers and moody rain-spattered back-alleys. But why is “One” #1 on this list? Because it has the real-deal motherfucking Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files, that’s why, aiding Richard Patrick’s descent into madness.