And that's what I'm trying to do here - compile a list of the 80siest music videos.
I tried to come up with a definition for 80iest, and after wasting a lot of paper I decided on this one phrase that encapsulates it fairly well:
"Pretentious then; hilarious now."
Or, if you want to really cop out, I'll define it much as the same way Jesse Helms defined pornography: "I'll know it when I see it."
But enough about that. On to the videos on the flip side...
Billy Idol: Eyes Without a Face
Billy Idol could be the poster boy for the 80s. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked to learn in the next few years that some government created him simply to encapsulate the times, retiring him in the early 90s once they realized grunge had staying power. Ok that would surprise me a little, but not as much as one might think.
This video screams 80s. And screams a whole lot more as well. I love how it starts with a quote, "In the midnight hour," which is a lyric from another Billy Idol song. It doesn't get much better than that. Other thoughts:
- Floating Billy Idol head? Yes please.
- I wonder if this song was Billy's push to show everyone he was a legitimate singer and not a screamer.
- Billy's Eyes Wide Shut moment is a bit anti-climactic. At least Kubrick gave us some sex in his, even if it got covered up by a bunch of CGI.
- Smoke machine...cross fades between the floating Billy Idol head and the choir...fingerless gloves...yeah, we're in the 80s.
- Can't quite put my finger on what a fire hose drenching a scantily clad woman symbolizes.
In trying to reinvent themselves for the 80s, Yes went ahead and made a pretty good song. That doesn't mean the video shares the same fate. The amount of symbolism going on in here would make a high school English teacher wet themselves, knowing they wouldn't have to write up a lesson plan for a month; they'd simply have to hit play and ask their students to list the literary references. Maybe Jon Anderson's mum was a teacher.
I do enjoy the fact that the protagonist of the video, upon seeing the members of Yes materialize out of thin air on the building rooftop dressed in suits, chooses suicide over whatever they may have planned for him. Now that's a statement.
And was that Peter Weller as a judge/clerk/administrator/the devil?
Duran Duran: Hungry Like the Wolf
I can't think of another band that encapsulates the 80s more than Duran Duran. Not only did they write music that could easily work as a soundtrack for the decade, but they spared no expense when it came to their music videos. Case in point is Hungry Like the Wolf. I'm not sure whether they are on location or not, but even if this is a lot somewhere, it's impressive. And there's a lot going on...
A shirtless Nick Taylor(?) runs around the streets of some third world capital while Simon LeBon wears awesome glasses/goggles and contemplates things. And no matter where it's supposed to take place, I can appreciate Duran Duran ensuring hot women are involved. Shirtless Nick Taylor runs around some more while LeBon gets his freak on with a feral jungle woman. Let's give him some credit too - this is years before Jungle Fever. Think maybe this video was the spark that gave Spike Lee his idea? The video ends almost as nonsensically as it started. Honestly, I dare anyone to try to explain what's going on in this video.
Journey: Separate Ways
No way I couldn't include this video. It screams 80s and ridiculousness. Seriously, why the band is hanging out down at the wharf playing air instruments while some hooker struts around is beyond me. But what really comes through in this video is the passion. These guys aren't just going through the motions - they're feeling it, in the best of possible ways - especially the keyboardist. I bet the director told the rest of the band to take a cue from him when he watched the dailies.
The other thought I had watching this was: has there ever been an assembly of five uglier guys?
And what's the deal at the end? It comes out of nowhere. Was it all a dream? Is she sleeping in one of the warehouses? If not, that's an awfully large bedroom. And why is she wearing headphones?
Sure, I wrote about them before, but c'mon, there's no way they get left off this list. The lead singer looks like such a regular guy. I just want to go get a beer with him. I'd definitely have a lot of questions for him. Such as, "was the drummer as much of a douche as how he dressed?"
I will say I spoke too soon about Journey being ugly. Yowza. And they throw an unprecedented 6th guy in there to sit on the floor and bang on some things.
I am also a little unclear about what this video has to do with Africa. For all the mentions and references, there's really no real actual motif here. The only thing I can think of is that the lead singer is studying Africa so he can get in the librarian's pants. Because the library is in Africa? But then an African tribesman knocks over all the books and starts a fire, destroying the love the librarian and lead singer of Toto had.
What? Like you know what's going on.
So there you have it. While I certainly think this is a great list, I also know it is but a fraction of examples of what truly embodied the 80s. In fact, Cline has already responded with his list of television nostalgia here. So please, leave all your suggestions in the comments, and I'm sure this will be an ongoing series for the blog.