Madonna, Michael, Aerosmith and Idol: The Music Videos of David Fincher


The filmed works of David Fincher aren’t limited to the cinema. In fact, Fincher has made more music videos and commercials than he has movies and today I’ve decided to highlight a selection of Fincher’s music videos from those that will have you nodding your head saying, “Yup, that looks like something Fincher would have directed,” and others that will have you saying, “What? Really? The guy that made Zodiac, Seven and Fight Club made that?”

I did my best to find a few quotes for some of the videos, a few facts on others and I can also suggest you look for the likes of Djimon Hounsou in Madonna‘s “Express Yourself” and Paula Abdul‘s “Straight Up”, Christopher Walken in Madonna’s “Bad Girl” and you can also find supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford in the video for George Michael‘s “Freedom! ’90,” which was shot by Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director of photography Jeff Cronenweth who also did The Social Network and Fight Club with Fincher.

I have included 19 total videos over the course of the next four pages outside of the video above for Karen O. and Trent Reznor‘s remix of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” which plays during the title sequence for Fincher’s upcoming release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And trust me, when you see that opening sequence it doesn’t look like what you see above and it is a piece of art all its own.

Now, let’s move on…

Rick Springfield
“Bop ‘Til You Drop” (1984)

David Fincher talked about this video with Moviefone and said:

That one got me out of ILM. I mean, I would make that video very differently today… [F]or a 22-year-old and the first $150,000 I’ve ever had to spend… yeah, we did the best we could with what we had. Rick was incredibly sweet to me to give me that opportunity, but I honestly don’t know what any of that had to do with that song. At least it was different.

Jermaine Stewart
“We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” (1986)

“Express Yourself” (1989)

Fincher directed this Metropolis-esque video and Madonna has taken a lot of credit for it saying in “Madonna ‘talking’: Madonna in her own words”:

“This one I had the most amount of input. I oversaw everything–the building of the sets, everyone’s costumes, I had meetings with make-up and hair and the cinematographer, everybody. Casting, finding the right cat–just every aspect. Kind of like making a little movie. We basically sat down and just threw out all every idea we could possibly conceive of and of all the things we wanted. All the imagery we wanted–and I had a few set ideas, for instance the cat and the idea of Metropolis. I definitely wanted to have that influence, that look on all the men–the workers, diligently, methodically working away.”

Madonna was also quoted in a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times saying:

When the conversation turned to her music videos, she declared theatrically, “I discovered David Fincher.” Madonna has long sought out arty up-and-comers to direct her promos (Mark Romanek, Chris Cunningham, Jonas Akerlund), but she made clear that her involvement did not stop with hiring them. “I take at least 50 percent of the credit for directing and coming up with concepts,” she said.

“Oh Father” (1989)

In his book, “David Fincher: Films That Scar,” Mark Browning writes:

“Typical Fincher features are present: black and white, shadows, leisurely camera movement, extreme high angles, and some slow motion. A black and white setting dissolves between shots, creating a sense of fluidity between scenes and images, and many scenes are shot in snow, particularly the reverse-tracking shot in the opening from the snowscape into the house. However, the child-centered narrative in which trauma in childhood supposedly affects the life of an adult is not visually coherent.”

“Vogue” (1990)

In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, Fincher talks about making “Vogue” with Madonna and says:

I had kinda talked Madonna into releasing “Oh Father” as a single and we did this video and we were very happy with the video and nobody ever saw it because the song wasn’t a hit so she came back to me and said, “You screwed me up. You wanted to make this video for the song and no one liked the song and I went to bat for you and now I have to make a video by Tuesday.” And I said, “What’s the song called?” And she said, “‘Vogue’.” And I said, “Okay, we’ll get a bunch of stuff together and we’ll make a video on Tuesday.”

It was one of those things where the DP, Pascal Lebegue, who’s brilliant, literally showed up off the plane with his light meter and it was semi-pre-lit and he walked in and said, “This, this, this, this,” and we shot the video for like 16 hours and we were done, that was it, she got on the plane and went on her world tour. We cut this thing together as quickly as we could.

Michael Jackson
“Who is It” (1992)

This version of Jackson’s video for “Who is It” did not air in the United States, instead another version of the video was shown featuring footage from past music videos and live performances. I have seen a lot of comments referring to this video as a “banned” version, but I haven’t been able to find anything that confirms that.

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