Tearin’ Up My Heart: The Top Five Emotive Music Video Performances


Demi Lovato unleashes the waterworks in the video for her new single “Skyscraper” (which just debuted at #10 in the Billboard Hot 100)—a rare appearance of tears in a video that is about overcoming a struggle. (More often, the performer in such a song is the supportive voice for a crying actor, as Pink does for Tina Majorino‘s character in the video for “F—king Perfect.”) Of course, despite plenty of crossover into film and television by musical artists, singers are not usually the most emotive actors in their videos. Here are five notable exceptions:

5. Demi Lovato “Don’t Forget”
“Skyscraper” is the big single today, but in the video for her 2009 single “Don’t Forget,” co-written by the Jonas Brothers, Lovato gets out of the rain, only to shed a tear over the lost love she sings about.

4. Kelly Clarkson “Because of You”
Kelly Clarkson practically sobs her way through this hurt and angry expression of the pain that the narrator’s father has caused her through his absence and lack of love. Beyoncé nearly matches this pain with her betrayed expressions in “If I Were A Boy,” but her performance as the betrayer throughout the video mitigate the emotional punch just enough to make that video an honorable mention.

3. Creed, “My Sacrifice”
Scott Stapp of Creed doesn’t cry in this video, but he does more than enough emotive arm-pumping to make up for it. We’ve even spotted a gif-wall tribute to his fist-powered passion. (An honorable mention for this “masculine” version of tears: *NSYNC‘s “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” from which this list draws its name.)

2. Johnny Cash, “Hurt”
Toby Keith probably figured he would have the competition for Best Country Music Video of 2003 wrapped up with “Beer For My Horses,” a high-concept CSI mystery featuring Willie Nelson as a profiler of serial killers. (It even got turned into a movie!) He got pre-empted, though, by the Mark Romanek-directed video for Johnny Cash‘s cover of Nine Inch Nails’s “Hurt” that premiered a month earlier. The montage of memories and regrets as Cash sits in baroque loneliness as his wife looks on are enough to bring any viewer to tears, not to mention Cash himself. The video became that much more poignant when Cash passed away, just seven months later, on September 12, 2003.

1. Sinéad O’Connor, “Nothing Compares 2 U”
The mother of all crying videos, Sinéad O’Connor‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U” was an unlikely #1 single in 1990, thanks largely to the powerful one-shot music video, which stays fixed on O’Connor’s face as she performs the Prince-penned song. Also of note: last year, Janelle Monáe paid homage to the iconic clip in her video for “Cold War.”

What’s your favorite emotional music video? Did we miss any obvious clips? (Aerosmith‘s “Cryin'” doesn’t count, though we always welcome puns in the comments!)

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