My 7 Favourite One-Take Music Videos

I LOVE One-Take Videos.

I don’t really know why. I think it’s this fascination with having just one try. Of course it’s never just ONE try, but lots and lots of failed attempts until you get it just right. Maybe it’s the amount of effort that goes into these? With one-takes, there’s no „we’ll fix that in post“ or editing stuff out. It’s so old school. Like back in the day when you couldn’t take hundreds of digital photos just to decide how you want to prop a set. I remember a traditional photography class in university where it required immense skill and imagination to tell whether the light was right for the picture and if everything would look as planned. We got to take exactly two polaroids before we started to shoot on film.

There was no double- or triple-checking. You didn’t get to see the pictures before developing the film and you dealt with what you got. I guess that’s it – the element of suprise is what I love the most. For example: In the end of the first clip I’m going to feature here, Cardiknox happen to be dancing in front of an asian chef in the middle of his smoke-break. Yeah, maybe this was planned – hopefully it wasn’t. :)

#1 Cardiknox – On My Way

I love how we follow Lonnie around as she starts her ‚journey‘, dancing her way through the dark club and ending up out on the street … the way she looks at the camera before stepping out into the light … the perfect timing as Thomas assumes the ‚main role‘. It’s just full of great, powerful moments and the lyrics are fantastic as well. Enjoy.

#2 Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend

Robyn can do no wrong. All of the music videos for her „Bodytalk“ album are fantastic, but „Call Your Girlfriend“ holds a special place in my heart. It’s so raw and captivating to watch her dance her heart out, fall apart, get back up, it’s like she’s telling a whole story with her moves. Ever since the clip came out, my number one wish has been my own storage hall reserved specifically for solo-dancing.

#3 Björk – Hidden Place

Let’s enter some weirder territory. I still remember the first time I saw Björks „Hidden Place“ music video so many years ago and how it immediately traumatized me a bit. The strange alien fluids, the curious look on her blank make-up-free face … the editing brought in all the fun here, so it’s not really a classic one-take but honestly it’s Björk, who cares.

#4 OK GO – Upside Down & Inside Out

The official masters of one-take videos. I revisited a few of their music videos but I’ll have to stick with this one as my favourite because ZERO FUCKING GRAVITY. There are so many variables that make this incredibly difficult to pull off and they actually manage to make it look like effortless innocent fun.

#5 Christina Aguilera – The Voice Within

X-Tina at her best. I loved all the videos that went with her Stripped album but again, the rawness of this poetic one-take adds so so much to an otherwise beautiful, but not quite earth-shaking ballad. Sticking to black and white here also helps to not be distracted by Christinas performance and that mighty décolleté. Just like in the Cardiknox video, it’s another journey out of a weird building out into (or in this case, onto) the light. But with no choreography involved and the focus staying on her all of the time, while she’s singing, running, screaming at the camera, the power of this little film is amped up even more. Add to this the stark contrast of her hair and that flimsy little nightgown … I think the whole thing is just incredibly well done. Every design decision was made in order to accentuate both the innocence, self-doubt and the power contained in the song.


#6 Olli Schulz – Phase

Another really clever twist on the classic one-take – a double one-take with two contrasting stories that unfold side by side. Also another example of how well lyrics and visuals can work together when given proper thought.

#7 Panic! At The Disco – Girls/Girls/Boys

What can I say? It’s naked Brendon Urie! What’s not to love? I’m basically drooling over the keyboard whenever I watch this.

It’s is actually a homage to D’Angelos music video for „Untitled (How does it feel)“ from 2000. There’s the Official Music Video (which I’m going to include here) but also a great and possibly even sexier Director’s Cut with a surprise at the end – make sure to check that out too.

That’s it – so far. :) Are there other one-take fans out there? Do you have recommendations for me? I would love to discover more!

– Maggie






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