Choreographers: Janet Jackson and Anthony Thomas
The title track from Janet’s fourth studio album — deservedly hailed as one of her signature pieces of work and also a standard of the music video genre. The dystopian classic has been inspiring careers, copycats and styles for more than 25 years and, during that time, has encouraged many to burn some calories. Diving deep into the realm of dance, “Rhythm Nation” barely came up for air, with slick editing cramming in of-the-moment movements (The Running Man, y’all) and paradigm-setting, military-inspired precision. And good luck trying to pick a highlight within this clip: Is it the swinging nunchucks? The “Rhythm Nation Twins”? The solo breakdowns? That fly sequence that fills out the video’s final 30 seconds? It’s too difficult to choose and even harder to turn away from the intriguing steps that are so cohesive to the video’s theme. Jackson and Anthony Thomas easily scored the 1990 VMA Moonman for best choreography with “Rhythm Nation,” securing a place in pop culture history, as well as mapping the blueprint for all of Janet’s — and many other artists' — dance-featuring videos that followed.