Just when we thought music videos would fall into extinction and meet the same end as other beloved relics from the '90s, like video rental stores (RIP, Blockbuster) or floppy disks, they've gone and done a complete 180 to prove their staying power—even without the help of TRL's Carson Daly. The next generation of music videos that live on YouTube (or Tidal ...) want you to know that they've made a serious comeback with fancy art direction, famous directors, and elaborate visual effects. There are A-list cameos, compelling storytelling narratives, and in some cases, complete visual albums (because when life hands you lemons, you make Lemonade—right, Bey?).
And of course, those neat special effects wouldn't have the same impact without a major dose of fashion (or lack of—see: Kanye West's "Famous" if you don't know what we're talking about). Now that we're counting down to MTV's Video Music Awards (9 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 28), the night that honors the best in the music video medium, we found it apropos to take a look back and spotlight the best, most memorable looks from the nominated masterpieces. From Queen Bey's swirly, ruffly Roberto Cavalli dress in "Hold Up" to Rihanna's sparkly spaceage-y jumpsuit—designed by a student from New York's Pratt Institute—in "This Is What You Came for," scroll through for the outfits that deserve awards of their own.
Music video: "Sorry"
What she wore: An unapologetically bold men's camouflage Neil Barrett suit, complete with a black bralette, a wreath of a necklace, and facepaint. Sorry, I ain't sorry.
Music video: "Work"
What she wore: One music video wasn't enough for Rihanna and Drake's love child, they had to produce two—the first by Director X and the second by Tim Erem. Of course, that meant two outfits for BadgalRiRi, who first wore a racy netted dress over a knit triangle bikini in with a red, green, and yellow color palette and then changed into a shimmery see-through purple tank and a cutaway denim skirt.
Music video: "Hello"
What she wore: A shaggy coat layered over a checked shirt to belt out her gut-wrenching lyrics. In the middle of the woods. Alone. "Hello from the outside," indeed.
Music video: "Hotline Bling"
What he wore: A chunky knit with slouchy sweats and Timberlands—a look so ridiculously simple, yet so memorable that it was one of the hottest Halloween costumes of 2015.
5. Ariana Grande
Music video: "Into You"
What she wore: A Western-inspired outfit comprising a frayed denim jacket, a bustier, and belted booty cut-offs—because what else would you wear in the desert?
6. Joe Jonas
Music video: "Cake By the Ocean" – DNCE
What he wore: Ivory separates—if only we were all as smooth as this JoBro.
Music video: "Hold Up"
What she wore: A fantastic ruffly, twirly, billowy Roberto Cavalli marigold pleated dress that's great for swinging baseball bats, smashing everything in sight (fire hydrants, parked vehicles, and video cams included), and navigating a monster truck.
8. Gigi Hadid
Music video: "Pillowtalk" – Zayn
What she wore: The supermodel wore a couple of outfits in bae's first music video, including a gown scandalously slashed across her chest and this racy black bustier and choker.
9. Fergie, Kim Kardashian West, and Chrissy Teigen
Music video: "M.I.L.F.$" – Fergie
What they wore: When the hottest moms of Hollywood weren't dousing themselves with milk, they twinned in matching piped robes and sexy bodysuits—for a selfie, obvi.
Music video: "This Is What You Came for" – Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna
What she wore: A glittery slouchy, spaceage-y jumpsuit that was designed by Isabel Hall, a graduating design student from Pratt Institute, and sartorially choreographed by RiRi's stylist Mel Ottenberg, who sat front row during Pratt's annual student fashion show.
11. FKA Twigs
Music video: "M3LL155X"
What she wore: Amazing oversized '90-style denim separates and a white cut-out bodysuit and wide-leg skirt-pant-hybrid are just two of the coolest outfits in the video.
Music video: "Formation"
What she wore: In a nod to Hurricane Katrina, Beyoncé lounged on a submerged New Orleans police car in red-and-white scribbled-on Gucci separates from the spring 2016 collection with Fallon earrings and combat boots.
13. Missy Elliott
Music video: "WTF (Where They From)" – Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell
What she wore: There were so many outfits to choose from, like a shattered disco ball jumpsuit or graphic jerseys, but not gonna lie, we're into this plasticky, futuristic-y tracksuit, complete with cool shades and giant hoops.
14. Justin Bieber
Music video: "Sorry"
What they wore: OK, so Bieber doesn't make an appearance in this music video, but the very '90s-inspired of-the-moment outfits are still worth a shoutout. Chicago Bulls jersey? Check. Acid-wash jeans? Check. Adidas tracksuits? Check.
15. Zara Larsson
Music video: "Lush Life"
What she wore: Breakthrough artist Zara Larsson reached for the gold in her high-shine sequined bomber.
16. Gigi Hadid
Music video: "How Deep Is Your Love" – Calvin Harris and Disciples
What she wore: If there was a Most Music Video Appearances award, it would go to Gigi Hadid, hands down. The girl has been everywhere (Zayn's "Pillowtalk," ex-flame Cody Simpson's videos, Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood"), but in this one, we love the simplicity of the delicate strappy LBD. Minimal design, maximum impact.