The 80s invented the Music Video. Sure there were music videos earlier than that, in different forms, but the 80s collated them and made them a thing. And then the videos not only killed the Radio Stars. They murdered them. Publicly. And left their bodies in the public square on display.
They were ill advised murders, because the majority of music videos of the time were unequivocally terrrible. But that didn’t keep those videos from digging down into our youthful brains and implanting themselves like those earwig monsters from Star Trek: Wrath of Khan.
And they are still there. Here are my top 5 favorite terrible music videos from the 80s. In no particular order.
Fantasy – Aldo Nova
Whatever happened to this dude? He showed up, like out of nowhere, made this crazy awesome terrible music video, and then kinda disappeared. I guess life really is just a fantasy.
Rock Me Amadeus – Falco
Hahahahahahahah! Hahahaha! Hahaha! Hahahahhahhahahahahahaha!! Hahahahah!! Seriously, so awesome… So brill… Hahahahahah!! I love this one so much!! I can still hear our laughter everytime it came on MTV. And it came on a lot! Heheheh!! Oh, man. You rocked us, Falco, wherever you are now, we hope you are well. Heheh…
(Oh, he apparently passed away in 1998 in a car crash. R.I.P. you magnificent bastiche.)
Dancing in the Street – David Bowie & Mick Jagger
In the 80s, in my extremely small group of friends, we did not understand the draw of these two at all. Preening, prancing, atonal. And then for them to team up, we were sure it was one of the signs of the Apocalypse. And the Apocalypse was going to be hilarious. We loved it. Now, however, we are much more mature and realize that David Bowie was a genius, and Mick was just being the amazing that is Mick. And the joke was on us. Good on ya’, boys, good on ya.
Escalator of Life – Robert Hazard
Man, this thing still haunts the echo chambers of my brain. In quiet peaceful moments of genuine self-reflection, I will hear in the back of my mind:
“Hey girl, I’m a personal friend of Gloria Vanderbilt!!”
And then the chorus eats the rest of my productivity. I try to relate to the lyrics both culturally and politically, but I can’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t love this song fiercely. Even love of the ridculous is still love.
Separate Ways – Journey
They were arguably the biggest band in the world at the time. They for sure were the biggest band in the U.S. And this was their first real music video. One that was not a performance video shot live. And they could do anything they wanted. So they went to the docks, got a nephew who ran the projectors in his High School Media Center and made this classic. I like to think it was done purposefully to show how unaffected they were by their fame and fortune. I am pretty sure I am wrong.
My co-workers and I loved this video so much that we even did a tribute to it to promote a band that we created for a live event, and it still remains one of the fondest memories of my professional life.
What are you favorite horrible music videos? Share them in the comments below.