To say that Jonas Åkerlund is one of today's most iconic music video directors is to downplay the Swedish auteur's body of work. With credits to his name that include Beyoncé's "Hold Up"—famous for channeling Queen Bey's inner vandal—Lady Gaga's epic ode to feminine fury in "Telephone," not to mention a slew of hits that run the gamut from Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" to Madonna's "Ray of Light," Åkerlund is a true visionary in the industry.
"The key to his success is his knack for making the image he presents bigger than the screen itself." —Iggy Pop
And though his aesthetic style has changed over years—who else could go from directing Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" to "True Nature" by Jane's Addiction—Åkerlund's ability to marry bold imagery and electric performances gives his videos an unmistakable quality. When asked to describe that style, Åkerlund simply responds, "In your face." Indeed, for Åkerlund, artists come to work with him when they're looking to do "something different, something they've never done." If they want normal, "I am not their guy," he continues.
"Jonas has a unique vision—he interprets the language of music videos like nobody else." —Nick Rhodes, Duran Duran
Tellingly, for a director that's worked with the biggest names in the music industry, Åkerlund has his pick of artists to work with. Pressed to name the one band, past or present, he'd love to do something with, he responds, "Anything Black Sabbath."