Miley Cyrus sparked a firestorm of controversy when she appeared nude while riding an oversized wrecking ball in the video for her single “Wrecking Ball,” but many forget that artists stripping down for their music videos isn’t a new occurrence. Many have come before young Miley and many will come after…not that we’re condoning such actions. We’re just amazed at the level of confidence these folks have with their bodies. That’s gotta stand for something, right?
Here are 15 artists who have gone nude for music videos.
Video: Wrecking Ball
Miley’s been living the wild life lately, particularly after her twerk-filled performance at the 2013 VMAs. Shortly after the controversial on-stage romp, the soon-to-be 21-year-old decided to strip down for the music video to her single “Wrecking Ball” released in September. During the video she’s seen swinging around unclothed riding on well…a wrecking ball while singing. It wasn’t the first time she was seen in shocking attire (or lack thereof), and likely won’t be the last.
Video: California Gurls
Colorful pop sensation Katy Perry decided to take a trip to Candyland for her 2010 chart-topping hit “California Gurls,” but this isn’t the Candyland from your childhood. A carefree Katy is seen in the video lying on her stomach sans clothes atop a cloud of cotton candy with nothing but a bit of pink fluff covering her bare bottom and chest.
Rihanna, while no stranger to being raunchy in her performances and videos, surprisingly took a much more tasteful route when she decided to bare it all in the video for her 2013 ballad “Stay,” featuring Mikky Ekko. The singer is shown lying in a bathtub full of water throughout the entire piece, obviously unclothed but not in a provocative manner.The video is poignant and dramatic, a refreshing departure for the typically hyper-sexualized star.She also went bare for her colossal number one hit “Umbrella” in 2007, but her body was coated in silver paint and cleverly positioned to cover herself.
Video: Down for Whatever
Kelly Rowland stripped down to nothing but a pair of shoes for her 2011 song electro-pop tune “Down For Whatever.” At various points of the video she’s standing on a platform in heels and nothing else, but thanks to clever lighting and camera effects, you can’t see the full monty.
Video: Bad Romance
At this point, Lady Gaga’s provocative antics aren’t really shocking. Nudity in particular shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Gaga first went nude for her 2009 music video for “Bad Romance.” Then she did again for “LoveGame” that same year… and again for “Telephone” in 2010, and “Marry the Night” a year later.. and… you get the point.
With her first No.1 hit since 1999’s “Baby One More Time,” Britney Spears blazed through the charts with her hot single “Womanizer” in 2008. Things got pretty hot in the video too, as an unclothed Spears can be seen lying down in a sauna throughout the video, using her hands and legs to cover her lady parts. She eventually stripped down again in 2011 for the music video for her single “Criminal.”
Video: So What
The always-edgy Pink sought to make a statement in the video for her 2008 hit “So What.” The song is inspired by the breakdown of her marriage to Carey Hart and the video features a drunk and angry Pink acting out in various situations. In the middle of the video, she strips down to her birthday suit on the red carpet in front of the paparazzi and starts doing playful choreography. Censor bars present, of course.
Video: What’s My Age Again?
Punk band Blink-182 took to the streets of LA in the video for their 1999 single “What’s My Age Again?” only… without clothes. The entirety of the video depicts the band streaking through the city, much to the shock and humor of most of the neighborhood. In reality, they were actually wearing skin colored underwear for the majority of the video but the shock value is pretty much still there, regardless.
Video: Window Seat
Erykah Badu, went nude for her 2010 soul ballad “Window Seat.” In the video the neo-soul singer is seen walking down the street while disrobing in Dealey Plaza in Texas, the site of president John F. Kennedy’s assassination. At the end of the video Badu is apparently shot in the head by an unknown shooter just after removing her underwear, possibly attempting to mirror Kennedy’s killing. As her body lay on the ground blue paint spills from her head, forming the word “Groupthink” as the singer narrates a poetic voiceover. The video was inevitably subject to much controversy and Badu was charged with disorderly conduct for public nudity, was forced to pay a $500 fine, and served 6 months of probation.
Video: Rock DJ
Some guys will do anything for attention, but this might be a bit much. In Robbie Williams’ music video for the 2000 single “Rock DJ” he strips every piece of his clothing in an effort to get a female DJ’s attention. When that doesn’t work, he starts stripping off skin and organs until he’s nothing but a skeleton. Hot. He eventually gets her attention as set of bare bones at the end, and they dance together. Worth it…we guess? The video ends with the message “No Robbies were harmed during the making of this video.” Whew!
Video: Every Time
Janet Jackson is yet another artist proving that nudity can be done in a tasteful, artistic way. In the music icon’s video for her 1998 ballad “Every Time” from her sixth album The Velvet Rope, Janet is seen in water, completely nude, but strategic camera angles, tricks, shadow placement, and a piece of green fabric keep her from being exposed.
Video: Thank U
While constantly giving thanks throughout her appropriately named 1998 single “Thank U” Alanis visits various parts of Los Angeles on a bus, inside a grocery store, standing on the street, even standing in the middle of the street, all while completely in the buff with nothing but her extraordinarily long hair covering her chest and a censor blurring out her nether region.
Video: Untitled (How Does it Feel?)
D’Angelo’s 2000 neo-soul ballad “Untitled (How Does it Feel?)” centers around a man trying to seduce the woman he wants. In order to help get the point across, the entire music video for the song consist of D’Angelo’s nude body being shot from the torso up while singing the words to the song. There is a slight glimpse of his pelvic bone and his lower back. The video is sexually suggestive, becoming the subject of controversy. It effectively solidified the soul singer’s status as a sex symbol; however, it was later revealed that this wasn’t D’Angelo’s intention or his desire.He even took a leave of absence from the music scene as a result.
Video: E r o t i c a
Being one of the most iconic and provocative music artists in the industry, it should be no surprise to see Madonna wrap up this list. The music video for her hit “E r o t i c a” back in 1992 remains shocking and controversial to this day. As possibly one of the most memorable instances of an artist baring everything in a music video, the video has both a censored and an uncensored version. The latter contains graphic sexual acts and full frontal nudity of the singer herself inter-cut with shots of her as a masked dominatrix. The video was banned from MTV after being aired a total of three times. The song is on the album of the same title which Madonna released in conjunction with her coffee table book entitled S E X. The salacious video features Footage from the actual making of the SEX book and includes cameos from Naomi Campbell and Bid Daddy Kane amongst others.