Blast from the past

The genius called Mark Romanek (and some of his best music videos)


The legend says that Paul Thomas Anderson fell in love (or at least had a big crush) with Fiona Apple back in the mid 90’s when he first saw her in her Criminal music video.

She was nearly emaciated, and spent the half of the video in a bath tub, but there is no denying that even in the 90’s that video was so god damn sexy. Now, it would be considered tame and boring, but back in the day it was borderline pornographic, and dare I say it… Shocking…

Now… There are very few music videos that are able to shock us, but Mark Romanek did it very subtle and artistically in many of his directed videos. Oh and did I mention that Paul and Fiona became an item afterwards, solely based on that particular video? Yeaah… Apparently he had a huuuge crush on Fiona after he saw her in the Criminal video, and wanted to meet her ASAP. The rest is history.

“We sort of mutually wanted to meet the other person,” Anderson said in 2000. “I certainly wanted to meet her. I mean, she was a foxy rock star who seemed really cool.”

The two of them later became a couple, collaborated on some of her music videos, and even after they broke up, continued to share an artistic and professional bond.

But Criminal came out in 1997. Twenty one years later, Romanek graced us with Filthy. High tech and innovative new music video for Justin Timberlake’s new single. Timberlake is set to grace the stage at this year’s Super-Bowl event, but I don’t really want to talk about him. Or his new album.

I want to discuss Mark Romanek’s best music videos leading up to Filthy.

He’s been known to make innovative, eclectic, high tech and fun videos from almost anyone in the past 30 or so years. En Vogue, David Bowie, Janet and Michael Jackson, Macy Gray, Lenny Kravitz, Taylor Swift and of course Jay-Z. He likes shooting in black and white as much as he likes color and bright light.

His visual style strongly emulates the style of the great Stanley Kubrick, but Romanek’s work is so distinctive and revered that I think you can just look at a video randomly on TV and just know it’s his wok. A true testament of an artist don’t you think?

Several of his videos have won the Grammy award for best music video, and although his motion picture career is not as vast as his music video opus, he’s been known to make some of the best movies to date. One Hour Photo and Never Let Me Go deserve a worthy mentioning of course.

But for now let me present some of my favorite Mark Romanek’s music videos.

You Don’t Have to Worry – En Vogue (1990)

Free Your Mind – En Vogue (1992)

Rain- Madonna (1993)

Scream- Michael Jackson featuring Janet Jackson (1995)

Criminal- Fiona Apple (1997)

Got ’til It’s Gone – Janet Jackson feat. Q-Tip And Joni Mtchell (1997)

I Try – Macy Gray (1999)

God Gave Me Everything – Mick Jagger (2001)

Hurt – Johnny Cash (2003)

99 Problems – Jay Z (2004)

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (2014)

Filthy – Justin Timberlake (2018)


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