Monday, November 17, 2008

The Alphabet of 80s Music Videos: B

I can't get enough of looking back at these videos. Some I remember, some I don't and some I don't think I ever saw. But if these don't symbolize what the 80s were to people, than I don't know what will. Except for maybe that awesome Simon game.

On the flip side, a look at the videos starting with "B"...

Runaway - Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi really took the art of concert footage as video in a new and bold direction in the 80s, once ever going to black and white footage to let the audience know how much passion and seriousness they had (see Dead or Alive). Luckily, for Runaway, they hadn't formed that mold just yet...

We start off with a bunch of flames, melting into a stark metal filing cabinet that holds a number of nuclear accident files. Ok, looks like we're getting serious Bon Jovi here...

Just kidding! The keyboards burst into a cacophony of instruments, and we have Bon Jovi in all their glory kicking around on a futuristic soundstage that may or may not have been used for the movie Ice Pirates. (Awesome, awesome flick.) Now, it looks like we may be in a version of heaven at first, as there's a lot of dry ice, a 30 year old girl playing a high school aged girl, her family, and a Bon Jovi soundtrack. The bassist's shoes perfectly match his shirt, and Jovi is rocking the fringe nicely. If not heaven where else could it be?

The girl, in traditional Catholic girl garb, sheds her blazer as it begins to rain. Haven't caught the nuclear war connection yet, but I'm still intrigued. Back and forth between Jovi and the girl before we get a trio of scary cops, looking menacing, and it all starts to come together. It's unfortunate that every 80s metal band decided to read only Orwell's 1984 for inspiration.

Oh but wait, it's possible we're going in a different direction, as the cops turn into patrons of a leather bar, and the girl shows off some cool telekinetic firestarter stuff. Is that the nuclear connection? She got her powers from radiation exposure? Is there a college professor out there teaching a course I can take on deciphering the music videos of the 1980s?

Wait - she just used her burn powers to torch her family? Was it her past? Her photo album? Luckily Bon Jovi is here to rock me out so I'm not too troubled by the confusion.

Here comes the bridge, and here comes the transformation of the Catholic school girl into 80s rocker chick. I've lost what little narrative there was, and have just decided to go with it.

Bon Jovi pretends to hit some really high octaves as I briefly wonder whether or not the group was smart enough to use a nuclear accident as symbolism for a teenaged girl's ascent into puberty/adulthood, rebelling against her authority (her parents). Is that way too much credit to give Jon here?

The opened fringe jacket revealing a tattered shirt showing off his pecs seems to give me my answer.

And so we come to the end of yet another video that has no resolution or closure, other than exposure to nuclear winter may turn you into an extra of the Broadway rendition of Flashdance. I'm not willing to say whether that's a good thing or bad.

Girlschool - Britny Fox

Starting off with a sad sack janitor in a Catholis all girls' school, peeping through windows at the classrooms should give you at least a hint of where we're headed. The title of the song also might give some stuff away too.

Some quick notes about this stunning video:

  • Classical music theory in high school? Really?
  • Honestly, did the girl with the walkman really think she was going to get away with listening to Britny Fox so blatantly in class?
  • Somehow the punishment of cutting the girl's headphone wires transports everyone to a Britny Fox show. Actually, that seems fitting, though I don't know why you have to punish all the other girls who were ready to learn more about Bach (call out to Skid Row?)
  • I was not ready for the lead singer's voice.
  • Britny Fox found a way to make the outfits from Sgt. Pepper's even worse looking. Kudos.
  • I'm currently appreciating the irony of having a classical music class turn into a Britny Fox concert.
  • I'm not sure how all the girls' hair got teased and New Jerseyed suddenly, other than perhaps being so close to Britny Fox their hair products splashed into the front row. Can anyone who has been to a Britny Fox show confirm/deny?
  • If you've never seen this video before (like myself) we can play "What happens to the teacher at the end. Choices are:
A. She loses her hard-assed demeanor and joins in the fun.
B. She continues in a vain attempt to restore order.
C. She explodes during a particularly gnarly Britny Fox guitar solo.

I'm taking B. She doesn't have that I-could-be-hot-with-my-hair-down look. Although
I'm rooting for C.
  • You have to admit, with a few alterations and accessories, you can really slut up a Catholic school girl outfit.
  • Damn. It seems the solo not only didn't cause the teacher to explode, it got her to acquiesce to Britney Fox's rockin' ways and join in with all the girls. So if you chose "A" - you know your Fox.
Dancing in the Streets - David Bowie/Mick Jagger

Nothing screams 80s more than "Cash In." And nothing screams cash in more than this video.
After watching this, I never want to hear or read Jagger being referred to as a sex symbol. Other notes as I struggled through this...

  • Good lord.
  • How Jagger felt running in place established any other tone than absurdity is beyond me.
  • I thought Jagger's pirate inspired silk shirt was bad; then Bowie is introduced.
  • Seriously, did Bowie get his outfit from Garanimals?
  • I truly appreciate that these two literally danced in the street for us.
  • To all those still wondering if the rumors were true about them sleeping together, watch this video and get back to me.
  • Thank god this is only 2 minutes and 56 seconds long.
  • I can't tell if the shot when Jagger takes a moment to pause and take a drink was planned or not. If not, I can believe that the director just let it roll, knowing there was no way he was getting another take out of them.
  • The doorway work they just performed was inspiring.
  • Honest question. Do you think either Bowie or Jagger have ever actually watched this video in its entirety?
  • The last shot of their asses really really works.
Bonus Video!

Sun Lips - Black Moth Super Rainbow

Not from the 80s, but still - I think it's got the right vibe. Enjoy!