YouTube remasters vintage music videos into HD, Lady Gaga included

Tom Petty, Lady Gaga, The Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson and Boyz II Men are all getting music-video quality upgrades.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

Lady Gaga's Poker Face is among the newly remastered music videos.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

I'm staring at three women shaking their rears in black vinyl pants. Then bleach-blonde Billy Idol sneers at me in HD. This is the newly remastered music video for Idol's 1982 hit White Wedding. It's part of a massive video and audio remastering project from YouTube and Universal Music Group.

Remastering won't save some of these vintage music videos from their own absurdity, but it does make them look better. 

"Great music videos are works of art that continue to drive cultural influence across generations, and just like priceless paintings or sculptures in museums, from time to time they need some TLC," YouTube said in an announcement on Wednesday. 

The first batch of over 100 music videos includes The Beastie Boys' Sabotage, Tom Petty's Free Fallin', Janet Jackson's When I Think of You and Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, which came out a decade ago. You will also find fresh versions of songs from the Spice Girls, Smokey Robinson, No Doubt, Megadeth and George Strait.

The remastered videos are slipping right into the same slots as the original SD versions, and they will keep their view counts. 

YouTube and Universal expect to roll out 1,000 titles by the end of 2020. You can look for the "remastered" designation in the video descriptions and reminisce over your youthful heyday spent watching actual music videos on MTV.

Watch this: 5 tips for YouTube's music app