22 YA Authors Reveal Their Secret Music Video Inspirations

Veronica Roth, Marissa Meyer, Margaret Stohl, and other rock stars of YA share the music videos that rock their worlds.

Back when the YALLFest book festival was in Charleston, SC, it drew many YA authors to town. Not only the fabulous authors presenting at YALLFest, but additional authors who came to participate in several YA book events around the city. Surrounded by so many rock stars of the YA world, MTV News chatted with 22 of them about the music videos that inspire them to get up and dance.

  1. Victoria Aveyard

    What is the first music video you remember watching? "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls.

    Did you ever dress up, dance around, and sing like you were in a music video? If so, to what song(s)? Yes, to Spice Girls. I’d get together with my friends, and then we’d pick which member of *NSYNC was our boyfriend. And I remember I got there late, so I got Joey Fatone because the others had been taken.

    What current music video(s) do you enjoy? "Hotline Bling!" "Hotline Bling" is insane, that’s a crazy video.

    What is your favorite music video of all time? There are so many good ones. Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” was so iconic, so it’s hard not to go with that, but I kind of want to go with something from my era. I guess "Oops!... I Did It Again" by Britney Spears.

  2. Hannah Barnaby

    First? The first one I remember watching was “Money for Nothing,” but the one I really remember was “Thriller” because it was an event. We didn’t have MTV at my house, but my friend had it, and she had a huge gathering, and of course we learned the dance.

    Dress up and dance? I went to a Madonna-themed birthday party where we all dressed like her from “Like a Virgin.”

    Current? Adele’s “Hello.”

    Favorite? “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel because it was so cool and so different.

  3. Gwenda Bond

    First? Probably a Madonna video – one of the early ones like “Lucky Star.”

    Dress up and dance? Oh yes! I was the lone Cyndi Lauper in a camp group where everyone else dressed up as Madonna. I ratted my hair, and it took two hours to un-rat it afterwards. Girls just wanna have fun!

    Current? OK Go always has those super fun videos. And I like Janelle Monáe.

    Favorite? I think Madonna’s “Vogue.” It became a cultural touchstone, and it references so many aesthetics of that period.

  4. Martina Boone

    First? “Thriller.” It so vividly sticks in the head. That moment – ah!

    Dress up and dance? I am so tone deaf I can clear out this building simply by hitting a high note.

    Current? I watch mostly country music videos lately.

    Favorite? I’ve got to say “Thriller” because it was such a huge departure. It was so iconic and so transcendent.

  5. Gail Carriger

    First? A-ha’s “Take On Me.”

    Favorite? I really like Annie Lennox’s "Walking on Broken Glass" because it has vintage clothing and stuff. It’s really beautiful to look at.

  6. Susane Colasanti

    First? I know there was life before “Thriller”, but that’s the first one I remember getting really into. I would go over to my friend Kim’s house because she had a VCR, and she had the tape of the making of “Thriller,” and we watched that so many times it was ridiculous. And of course we practiced all the moves in the rec room.

    Dress up and dance? My friends and I were a quirky, crazy group of girls who would go into one of their basements and make music videos. We would totally do the outfits and the makeup and the choreo and film it. We made a lot of dorky videos. It was super fun.

    Current? I really love the Skrillex, Diplo, Justin Bieber’s “Where Are Ü Now.” First of all, the whole sound is very different. But I think they said they let fans come into some room with either white walls or paper on the walls, and the fans were able to make art, which was incorporated into the video. And of course I love the flip phone in Adele’s “Hello” and the nostalgic tone of the video.

    Favorite? I bet a lot of people are saying A-ha’s “Take On Me.” I remember it being very innovative and loving it. I respected how creative it was, and in the years since, it’s what everyone raves about, so it’s what first comes to mind. But I also loved Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. Oh, “We Are the World” – I really, really loved that one! At the time it was epic and everybody was talking about it.

  7. Elle Cosimano

    First? The A-ha video that was all black and white sketches and then it went to color. “Take On Me.”

    Dress up and dance? Cyndi Lauper was such a personality, so come Halloween the makeup goes on and the hair gets bigger. I also remember a lot rubber bracelets and popped collars.

    Current? Adele’s “Hello.”

    Favorite? “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak. I was very young when it came out, and I thought it was so sensual and so romantic. I was just captivated and watched it over and over.

  8. Ashley Elston

    First? I remember when MTV first aired. My cousins and I sat around watching the fuzzy screen until it premiered. The first video was "Video Killed the Radio Star," and I’m sure we watched it for twelve hours straight.

    Dress up and dance? When I was in 5th grade, my parents got me and three friends tickets to see The Go-Go’s, so I spent the week before perfecting my Go-Go’s look, watching the videos, and trying to dance like Belinda Carlisle.

    Favorite? Any video with David Lee Roth when he was in Van Halen. Those were like the best videos ever because they were like a show. “Hot For Teacher,” “California Girls,” and then “Jump” when he did the toe touch. I loved it.

  9. Ryan Graudin

    First? "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette.

    Dress up and dance? My best friend and I would dance to *NSYNC videos.

    Current? Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” is insane. You’re like, “I’m on an acid trip right now, and I haven’t taken anything.” It’s like you do you, Katy Perry.

    Favorite? I would say “Thriller.”

  10. E. Lockhart

    First? There’s a Madonna video where she’s dressed in black, and she’s in a white room with a bunch of dancers. I don’t even know what song it is, but I can remember what she’s wearing.

    Dress up and dance? Well, I was a musical theater geek, so yeah, I did, but it was a little more Liza Minnelli than it was pop music.

    Current? “Chandelier” by Sia. And there’s a video with Sam Rockwell where he dances, and I really think he’s a hotsy totsy dancer – “Down To Earth” by Flight Facilities.

    Favorite? The “Leeds United” video is where I discovered Amanda Palmer. I just thought she was the coolest person I’d ever seen in my life, and that’s her most glitzy video. Like, she’s sort of in drag, and everyone is completely crazy dolled up, and at one point they throw all these bagels at each other and have sort of a food fight. But it’s sickly glamorous in a very fresh way. I love it.

  11. Mindy McGinnis

    First? I didn’t have cable, but Disney did this thing in the 80s where they made a special episode called “D-TV Valentine,” and they took scenes from “Bambi” and “Snow White” and played popular songs over them, so they made Disney music videos to like Stevie Wonder and the Eurythmics. It was awesome, and it was my first exposure to music videos.

    Dress up and dance? Yes, to "Walk Like an Egyptian."

    Current? The most recent one I probably can name is Blind Melon.

    Favorite? “Take On Me.” Although I’m a big fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers – they do good videos, too.

  12. Marissa Meyer

    First? “No Rain” by Blind Melon. It left such an impression because I felt so sorry for that poor girl in the bee outfit. It was a life-changing thing, like, “Don’t laugh at her!”

    Dress up and dance? Yes, to “Wild, Wild West.”

    Current? I’m totally out of it. A friend recently made a joke about a wrecking ball, and I had no clue what she was talking about.

    Favorite? Muse’s “Knights Of Cydonia.” When they’re all charging out and having a showdown in the desert, it’s really cool.

  13. Megan Miranda

    First? M.C. Hammer. I distinctly remember Hammer Time and dancing to "U Can't Touch This."

    Current? I saw Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and was captivated by it. I played it over and over on my computer.

    Favorite? The one with Christopher Walken where he’s dancing the whole time - Weapon Of Choice by Fatboy Slim. I just remember being like “What is happening?”

  14. Brandon Mull

    First? It was probably “Take On Me”– that comic book look – there was something about it that worked for me and made me happy.

    Current? Adele’s new video is cool.

    Favorite? The epic one is “Thriller.” It was game changing.

  15. G. Neri

    First? I remember MTV debuting, and I remember Dire Straits. Elvis Costello and “Pump It Up.” It’s like stupid but it’s so perfect.

    Favorite? I wrote a book about Johnny Cash, so I think the “Hurt” video would be up there as the greatest. In terms of kooky fun, the “Pump It Up” one does everything with only simple gimmicks. It doesn’t try to be all fancy and highfalutin. It’s just fun and goofy.

  16. Danielle Paige

    First? Probably Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or “Bad.” I don’t know which one, since it was a long time ago. I kind of put them together in my head. They were amazing.

    Dress up and dance? Who says I don’t do that now? But, yes, to Madonna’s “Material Girl” or other old stuff. I love music. I don’t know if I dressed up, but I would definitely dance around. I still do.

    Current? The Drake one where he’s grandpa dancing.

    Favorite? I can’t say which one’s the best, but I’m hooked on the Taylor Swift ones right now, just because they feel old school. Like the one where she’s doing the conservation video with the lions or the “Bad Blood” one. I’m into the fact that she’s bringing the video back in a way. But best of all time, I have to go back to “Thriller.” It broke the mold.

  17. Brendan Reichs

    First? M.C. Hammer’s "U Can't Touch This." I remember thinking it was the most awesome thing I’d ever seen, and I wanted pants like that. And then Vanilla Ice came right on the back of that, and I’m like, “Well, this is what music should be all about, this is the height of music creativity right now.” So I was a dumb child.

    Dress up and dance? No, but I modeled a lot of my behavior in fourth grade along what I thought Vanilla Ice might do. I was like, “Yeah, this is how a man is.” Again, stupid kid.

    Favorite? I really liked a lot of Spike Jonze’s work, although I’m not sure of my favorite. Maybe “Weapon of Choice” with Christopher Walken dancing the whole time. And I like “Praise You” with the guerilla-style video camera and just dancing in a mall. I thought it was a great song and a great mix.

  18. Veronica Roth

    First? “Bye Bye Bye” by *NSYNC

    Dress up and dance? I did learn some of the dance moves to “Bye Bye Bye.” I was really into *NSYNC at that age, and they do that hand-clappy thing. It’s so embarrassing to admit that.

    Current? I really liked the “Blank Space” one by Taylor Swift because I just love how that song acknowledges that she is perceived as being like this crazy woman, and she’s kind of poking back at it – which I really love – and that comes across particularly clearly in the music video.

    Favorite? I really enjoyed Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” because it’s like theater. Her whole persona is crazy and theatrical and ridiculous, and it just perfectly reflects that.

  19. Brandon Sanderson

    First? “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits. And I never even knew it was Sting singing in the background. But that music video – I was like, “Look at these graphics, they’re so amazing. They’re just rocking it out.” It was CGI, and now it’s so bad, but the music video blew my mind.

    Current? Everyone’s watching the Drake video, so I went and watched that. His dancing is kind of mesmerizing, I’ll admit. But it is a little bit better with fruit ninja added.

    Favorite? Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. It’s so cool. I can watch that on repeat for hours on end. Honorable mention to “November Rain.” I love that video.

  20. Margaret Stohl

    First? Duran Duran’s “Rio.”

    Dress up and dance? Yes! Mostly to Madonna songs.

    Current? I just watch what my kids show me.

    Favorite? Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”

  21. Sandra Waugh

    First? The one that stands out in my memory is Duran Duran’s “Rio” because I so wanted to be on that boat living their lives.

    Dress up and dance? In the 80s, we all dressed like we were in a video. Everything we wore was an offshoot of what Madonna was wearing: the off-the-shoulder, cut sweatshirts, the ankle boots, and the hair. So I didn’t really shut the door, get dressed up and sing, but I certainly sang and then got dressed up and went outside.

    Current? I recently watched Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.” And I like Sia’s “Chandelier” video a lot.

    Favorite? “Billie Jean” – I thought that was the coolest thing. And then the one where Michael’s wearing the red jacket and the bad guy is wearing white – “Beat It.”

  22. Carole Boston Weatherford

    First? I’m from the “American Bandstand” and “Soul Train” era, so I saw a lot of folks on those shows. I remember seeing the Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”

    Current? When my kids were teenagers I watched some. I remember liking the Robert Palmer one with the women playing the guitars. And I enjoyed Aaliyah’s videos and of course Beyoncé. And Sade’s video for “Soldier of Love.”

    Favorite? It’s got to be “Thriller.”