Places With Famous Roles in Music Videos
Whether it’s a Beethoven number that takes you to 19th-century Austria or a Notorious B.I.G. track that instantly recalls 1990s Brooklyn, music has a way of transporting us to faraway places. But when artists put those sounds to film — setting the scene with vivid colors, landscapes, and cityspaces — the experience is even more palpable. From Chris Martin dazzling fans in Sydney to Beyoncé turning Bourbon Street into one big dance party, here are seven epic places from music videos you can visit.
Lake Como, Italy (“Cool” by Gwen Stefani)
Former No Doubt frontwoman and judge on TV’s The Voice, Gwen Stefani shot the music video for her 2004 song “Cool” (from her solo debut album) with the epic backdrop of Lake Como, Italy — where she hops about town amidst flashbacks to a former life (and former relationship). Though the scenes move fast, that captivating estate you see for an instant is Villa Erba, a 19th-century villa in the town of Cernobbio, home to some of the most stunning vistas in this famously celebrity-studded region where the likes of George Clooney, Richard Branson, and Madonna own real estate.
Bourbon Street, New Orleans (“All Night” by Beyoncé)
Beyoncé spotlights Louisiana throughout her critically acclaimed 2016 visual album Lemonade (a rumination on Black American history and Black love) — from the Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville to Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville and New Orleans' Superdome and Fort Macomb, a 19th-century brick fort. In the music video for the penultimate track “All Night,” Beyonce intermixes video footage of her and Jay-Z with that of couples throughout New Orleans, particularly along Bourbon Street — the city’s most famous street and the center of the annual Mardi Gras festivities.
Iceland (“I’ll Show You” by Justin Bieber)
Iceland’s epic beauty compelled Justin Bieber to shoot the music video for his 2015 single “I’ll Show You” there, showcasing him across a number of showstopping sites. The first was the southeast region’s Fjadrargljufur Canyon, where the pop star ascends a ridge alongside the striking landscape. From there, Bieber travels to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, one of the area’s most famous attractions — not only for its awe-inspiring cascade but also the ability for visitors to walk behind the curtain of falling water. Viewers encounter plenty more with Bieber as guide, from the Fjadrar River and the island of Dyrholaey to Skogafoss Waterfall and Solheimasandur Beach.
New York, New York (“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys)
There are few songs that champion cities as strongly as Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ chart-topping 2009 collaboration “Empire State of Mind” does with New York City. Just hearing the lyrics will make you want to book it to the Big Apple (or if you’re there already, your NYC pride powers up faster than lines outside of Katz’s Deli). But it’s the song’s music video that truly brings America’s biggest city to life — whether it’s Jay-Z rapping on neighborhood blocks, Alicia Keys playing piano surrounded by the billboards of Times Square, or the beautiful panoramic shots of the skyline from above.
Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary (“Firework” by Katy Perry)
It’s only appropriate that a pop song that sounds as big as this one was filmed at Budapest’s Buda Castle, a grand palace complex first completed in 1265 and expanded in 1769. It is one of the Hungarian capital’s most prominent landmarks, and the music video for Katy Perry’s 2010 No. 1 hit “Firework” features the songstress walking throughout the castle. The video crescendos in a massive, celebratory finale of — what else? — fireworks in the castle's courtyard. Fans who want to follow in Perry’s footsteps can check out the eight museums the property houses onsite, including, aptly, the Museum of Music History.
Oheka Castle, Huntington, New York (“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift)
Pop superstar Taylor Swift may have a thing for filming in castles. After all, Tennessee’s Castle Gwynn served as the music video site for her 2008 hit song “Love Story,” and she followed that up with a visit to New York’s Oheka Castle in 2014 for “Blank Space.” The music video for her No. 1 hit from the Grammy Award-winning album 1989 has been viewed nearly 3 billion times since. Built in 1919 on the highest point on Long Island, in Cold Spring Harbor, the chateau-esque property spans 443 acres and continues to serve as the second-largest private residence ever built in America.
Sydney, Australia (“A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay)
In Coldplay’s 2014 music video for “A Sky Full of Stars,” Chris Martin and team appear to be having the time of their lives. Each is dressed as his own one-man band as they all saunter through the streets of Sydney gaining more and more fans along the way. Most of the video takes place on King Street in the suburb of Newton, a hip neighborhood brimming with restaurants, theaters, bookstores, and bars that cater to visitors and locals alike — especially the area’s vibrant college scene.