- Sometimes musicians completely transform themselves for music videos.
- Some makeovers, like Taylor Swift’s in her video for “The Man,” require prosthetics and hours of work.
- Aminé and Bad Bunny used their transformations to make memorable statements.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Musicians often use their music videos to show off killer outfits and eye-catching dance routines. But some artists take it a step further with full transformations that leave them basically unrecognizable.
Read on for 17 times celebrities have completely transformed their appearance for their own music videos.
Taylor Swift used prosthetics in her video for “The Man.”
At first glance, Swift doesn’t appear to be in the song’s music video. The video follows a careless man with a mustache and beard as he traipses around New York City. It’s not until the credits that the actor’s identity is revealed to be Swift.
In a separate video, Swift talked about her transformation, which required a full-body muscle suit, 10 silicone prosthetics, and the masterly work of special-effects legend Bill Corso.
Although some fans thought her alter ego bore a striking resemblance to her ex, Jake Gyllenhaal, Corso told Elle in 2020 that the character – Tyler – wasn’t based on one particular person, saying, “I think she feels like someone different in every shot of the video.”
Katy Perry turned into Marie Antoinette in her “Hey Hey Hey” video.
Katy Perry’s song “Hey Hey Hey,” one of the singles off her album “Witness,” is about how she may seem “feminine and soft,” but she’s still strong and independent.
The video interprets this mantra with a historical flair. It starts off with Perry dressed as an artistically-licensed Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, lounging in her castle and warding off unwanted advances. Face powered, she sports thin eyebrows, heart-shaped lipstick, and a platinum beehive wig.
By the end of the video, she’s in character as Joan of Arc, donning rainbow armour and beheading the queen.
In the “Best Song Ever” video, One Direction band members all underwent a transformation — and Louis Tomlinson played a balding businessman.
The video for “Best Song Ever” is more like a musical short film.
Set in a Hollywood movie studio, One Direction appeared as themselves while doubling as the creative staff. The employees pitch overly curated movie concepts that the members brush off as inauthentic.
Louis Tomlinson played Jonny, a studio executive fit with suspenders and chest-hair. A behind-the-scenes video teased the transformation and showed a makeup artist adding prosthetics to Tomlinson’s face, hiding his hair, and gluing on a beard.
And Niall Horan played his suited coworker.
Irish musician Niall Horan appeared as the other wise-cracking executive in the video.
He underwent a similar transformation process as Tomlinson, donning a navy suit and attempting an American accent.
In footage on the making of the “Best Song Ever” video, Horan said it took four hours to get him into character. And after a day of production in prosthetics, he said he “literally, cannot wait to get out” of his costume.
Zayn Malik, on the other hand, was transformed into a “sexy secretary.”
To prepare for his American character, Veronica, the makeup artists had to airbrush Malik’s tattoos.
“I don’t think I’ve drawn the short straw,” Malik said about his character, who later flirts with bandmate Harry Styles.
Eventually, the video descends into chaos as the band members destroy the office and dance on tables.
Drake impersonated several popular personas in his video for “Energy.”
Drake went through several different transformations in his “Energy” music video, impersonating celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Miley Cyrus, former President Barack Obama, and Justin Bieber, to name a few – while also playing himself.
He said Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video inspired the concept.
“I was like, ‘Man, you know, effects have come such a long way. I bet we could do something crazy with this,'” he told Zane Lowe on Beats 1 in 2015. ” … I want people to rewind it a bunch of times and go and tell someone else to watch it. It’s shocking, it’s beautiful, it’s a lot of things.”
Aminé used whiteface to spark a conversation about race in his “Red Mercedes” video.
In the video for his single “Red Mercedes,” stylised without spaces and in capital letters, rapper Aminé played a white customer who walks into a car dealership with his friends.
As they interact with the store’s Black staff, the video explores racial microaggressions and unequal treatment.
Aminé told the LA Times in 2018 that the makeup took hours and the video was meant to convey an important message.
“My favourite Kanye lyric is, ‘Even if you in a Benz, you still a … in a coup,’ which is very true,” he said. “And that’s what I wanted to convey with ‘Red Mercedes,’ but making the opposite race feel the same way I feel.”
The rapper said the video annoyed a lot of people “and made a lot of people happy.”
“ll do whatever I want to do,” he added. “But it’s funny when I see people get mad. It’s a music video. It’s my art. So, I’ll do whatever I want.”
Billie Eilish got a make-under for her “Xanny” video.
In the video, Eilish sits on a bench in an all-white room wearing a plain turtleneck and sporting neutral brown hair, styled naturally. She sings to the camera, unmoving, even as unseen people put out cigarettes on her face.
The video was Eilish’s directorial debut. In a statement, she wrote, “Visuals are so important to me, and I’m very proud to be in a place where I can present my creative vision exactly as I want it.”
Bad Bunny dressed in drag in “Yo Perreo Sola” to make a powerful statement.
In his music video for “Yo Perreo Sola,” which translates to “she twerks alone,” Bad Bunny dresses in drag in support of LGBTQ rights and to denounce sexual harassment.
The Latin singer danced in form-fitting jumpsuits with elaborate makeup and wigs.
“I wrote it from the perspective of a woman. I wanted a woman’s voice to sing it – ‘yo perreo sola’ – because it doesn’t mean the same thing when a man sings it,” he told Rolling Stone in 2020. “But I do feel like that woman sometimes.”
Charli XCX turned into a creepy zombie for her “Famous” video.
The video for “Famous” is set in a tech-obsessed world where beauty revolves around screens, like your phone or tablet. When the batteries die, people are faced with the ugly truth.
Throughout most of the video, Charli is seen on a screen singing and dancing along to her song. But toward the end, she appears as a terrifying emoji-zombie, trying to manipulate people into buying her album. You almost wouldn’t recognise Charli with unruly hair and spotted scars across her face.
In a behind-the-scenes video of the shoot, Charli joked, “When I inevitably have my breakdown, this is how I’m probably going to look, so we thought we would make it fit in 2015.”
Swift also got the zombie treatment in “Look What You Made Me Do.”
A video about her zombie transformation shows Swift sitting in a chair while a team of makeup artists covers her in prosthetics, bits of fluff, and faux nails.
Swift joked, “You know what’s weird? When you look this gross, you just have no physical insecurities … I encourage everyone to look like a corpse at least once.”
The makeover aligned with the song’s message – the video is about Swift saying goodbye to “the old Taylor” and ushering in a new sense of self.
Lady Gaga turned into her male alter ego for her “You and I” video.
Lady Gaga is certainly no stranger to elaborate style transformations, but one look in particular made her nearly unrecognizable – her male alter ego, Jo Calderone.
Alongside actor and model Taylor Kinney, Gaga stars in the video as Calderone and Yüyi, a mermaid. While dressed as Calderone, Gaga looks like a different person; she sported a short and messy black wig, a white T-shirt, and dark makeup smudged around her eyes.
Gaga spoke about the video to MTV in 2011, saying, “For me, it was all about capturing the true spirit of the song, which is when you’re in love, you’ll be willing to walk and do the craziest and most inconvenient things you can possibly imagine.”
Tones and I became a grandpa for her “Dance Monkey” video.
In “Dance Monkey,” Australian singer Tones and I looks so different that it’s easy to believe it’s not her.
The video follows “Mr. Tones,” an elderly man who joins a dance party at a golf course. With a grey wig, beard, sunglasses, hat, and a preppy golf-outfit, Tones’ costume is convincing.
The video’s concept was Tones’ idea and she was only able to wear her grandpa costume once.
“We pumped through it, we kept shooting and shooting,” she told The Industry Observer in 2019. “We staggered people’s breaks, that way we weren’t all taking a break at the same time.”
Perry also turned into an elderly woman for “The One That Got Away.”
The video for “The One That Got Away” opens with a shot of Perry looking unrecognizable as an elegant elderly woman with styled grey hair, chic clothing, and a considerable amount of wrinkles.
The rest of the video alternates between a younger Perry (looking like her normal self) and her older counterpart, highlighting the stark contrast between the two.
Blink-182 looked straight out of the 1970s in their video for “First Date.”
In the”First Date” video, Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge, and Travis Barker took it back to the 1970s – wearing voluminous wigs and silk, white tracksuits.
It looked so realistic, you could almost believe the Blink-182 bandmates actually were from the disco decade.
Although Barker’s transformation wasn’t as drastic, Hoppus and DeLonge’s shaggy haircuts and intense sideburns made them look like different people.
Perry transformed into several characters for her “Birthday” video.
The idea behind the video was that the singer crashed five real-life birthday parties in disguise.
The parts included: Goldie, an elderly dancer; Yosef Shulem, a Jewish MC; Kriss, a clown; Ace, an animal trainer; and Princess Mandee, a face-painter. She changed her appearance with costumes, wigs, and prosthetic wrinkles and features.
Many viewers criticised the video, saying it used cultural stereotypes.
In the video for “Learn to Fly,” the Foo Fighters turned themselves into various aeroplane staff and customers.
The “Learn to Fly” video is set on a commercial airline and starts with Tenacious D’s Jack Black and Kyle Gass as airport employees.
It’s easy to miss the Foo Fighters members as they appear dressed as flight attendants, pilots, and various customers of all genders – even going as far as playing a baby girl.
The musicians sport different wigs, makeup, and fake breasts throughout most of the video.
The video scored the Foo Fighters a Grammy win in 2001 for best short form music video.