Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Unfortunate Classic Music Videos

Billy Ocean - Loverboy

One of those "must be seen to be believed" experiences that I can't begin to describe here. I'd rather imagine the initial creative-team meeting with Billy, to vaguely go over their concept for this one.

Team leader: Well, Mr. Ocean, as you can see, the outline features a really hip bar scene with a dramatic occurrences that will take place within the beach-front club. We don't have the storyboards as of yet, but I think you'll agree: This one will up your "cool" factor by exponential ten!

Ocean: Sounds good. Will I have a role?

Team leader's assistant: You'll be performing within the context of the dramatic action!

Ocean: Fine, fine. Draw up a contract. I have to get to a recording session now. Let me know when the second-unit crew has finished shooting so you can edit me in there.

Team leader and cohorts: Affirmative Billy Ocean! See you at the MTV awards of 1985!

As Ocean leaves the room, the creative team high-fives one another while adjusting their thick eyeglasses and snorting with pleasure.

Kansas - Dust in the Wind

The minor-key classic gets a fittingly somber treatment for the video. But we must ask ourselves: do we want to see the group in foggy tableau, playing a dirge while wearing prom-night outfits in soft-focus? Does that benefit us or the group? They look like a bunch of guys whose coke deal fell through just before filming began. It's appropriately sad but takes away from the overall suicidal hopelessness of the song itself.

Journey - Separate Ways

From the ugly and low-cost warehouse backdrop to Steve Perry's hysteria-infused dramatic performance, this one's an all-time classic bad music video from frame one. It's got terribly unflattering hair, a big mustache, air keyboard, Perry's tight T-shirt/jeans combination that would help catapult him to hyperbolic stardom, plus some kind of home-made industrial musical instruments that can't possibly sound good even within experimental standards, and a forklift. And the 80s staple: white pumps with a black leather skirt.

And here's a really admirable move-for-move remake, proving that even terrible productions can be inspiring and even worthwhile if they don't make our brains explode in the process.

And while I'm at it, I cannot ignore Steve Perry's postmodern take on Oh Sherrie. Just because he's making fun of high-concept music video, doesn't make it any less shitty when he launches into "sincere" mode. A not-so-bad bombastic love ballad made brain-meltingly annoying on film. Thousands of Perry fans will now attack me with sharp pointed objects but I've always thought that Journey is the greatest band for people who generally hate music.

Guns N' Roses - November Rain

Epic, expensive, macabre, dramatic, pointless, stupid, unnecessary in the extreme; this was the "Heaven's Gate" of music videos. No amount of high production values and scenery could disguise the fact that the song wasn't very good and just as pieced together as this disjointed narrative. At least Axl isn't swimming with the dolphins while wearing his Charles Manson T-shirt.


el space vato said...

After this posting... if we weren't already married to other people I'd ask you to marry me! Absolute genius!

Tuckers said...

That Billy Ocean video should have won a non sequitur award or something. And it had a big budget because they had Joni Mitchell in a supporting role with minimal makeup.

Lisa Mc said...

Thanks Jaime. Obviously bad stuff inspires me like no other. But it has to be good/bad and there's no explaining what makes that so. Tuckers, was this the video that ended Ocean's career? If not, it should have.