Tag Archives: #Fave80sMusicVideos

Crossover Event – Favorite 80s Music Videos, Part 2


I recently posted an article covering my favorite music videos as part of an ’80s Crossover event with the ’80s League. Now, Robert is sharing his favorite video. Please check out our fellow members of the ’80s League who participated in this event:

80s Reboot Overdrive – Podcast and Blog
Killer Kitsch – 1980s Music Videos

 


It Begins with a-ha’sTake On Me

by Robert Mishou

Recently (August 1) MTV celebrated its birthday. Thirty-six years ago the channel that changed pop culture and affected the way all of us listened to – and watched – music played the first notes of The Buggles Video Killed the Radio Star and followed that with Pat Benatar’s You Better Run. The rest, as they say, is history. The channel that many thought could never work definitely worked and influenced music sales for the next two decades. Not everyone liked the shows MTV would add later and not all of them were successful, but that beginning, that core of music videos, concerts, and interviews with the artists left an indelible impression on all of us who sat glued to that cable channel.

Personally, I did not truly watch MTV until I moved back to the United States after living on an army base in Frankfurt, (then) West Germany for six years. Music videos did become a very precious commodity, though. In those years before MTV Europe, friends and/or acquaintances would travel back to the United States for holidays and summer vacations. Whenever anyone came back to the U.S., they always returned to Germany with a six hour VHS tape full of MTV – commercials and all. Those tapes made the rounds and were dubbed and dubbed and dubbed. We watched these videos until the tapes broke. Do not forget that these were the days before YouTube and there was really no other way to get a hold of these sacred clips. I vividly remember the all night sessions of Atari video games (that would later evolve into Commodore 64) with these VHS tapes of MTV rolling in the background. We would be mashing the buttons on the joysticks and singing at the top of our lungs. And when it was not our turn to play, we turned around and watched those videos – and sing at the top of our lungs.

Like most teens in the ‘80s, MTV was a major part of my growing up and I do really miss it now. Just a month ago I was visiting my best friends in Louisville. We did not turn on MTV as that would be a futile effort today. We went to Youtube and found a playlist of ‘80s hair bands and feasted on those classics!

Simply put: MTV helped form me into the adult I am today. Now as I am faced with a crossover event with our fellow ‘80s brothers and sisters, I am able to write about my favorite ‘80s video. There are so many choices, but my choice is an easy one. To me, despite all of the possibilities, my favorite ‘80s video begins and ends with a-ha’s Take On Me.

Yes, I briefly considered a few others like, well, no I really didn’t. a-ha’s song was the first one that popped into my head and stayed there. Yes, I am an a-ha fan. Growing up in Germany in the ‘80s made this a natural. I saw the band in concert in November of 1986 at the Frankfurt Festhalle shortly after the release of their second album Scoundrel Days. I have always felt they have been unfortunately labeled as one-hit-wonders here in the U.S. I know it is true here, but they had twenty consecutive top ten hits on the European continent – just nothing else here. Despite their clearly European sound that is not a rousing success for many here in the States, the video propelled this song to number one for the week of October 19, 1985. I love the song, but there are better, for sure. In 1985 alone Money for Nothing, Power of Love, Shout, and Broken Wings all hit #1 and are all songs that are better. But the videos are not (although Money For Nothing is an extremely close second). Remind yourself and watch the video again:

The story is simple: lonely girl falls for a cute boy in a comic book; boy pulls the girl into the comic book; boy gets into trouble; boy helps girl get back to real world; girl sees boy get beat up; boy escapes the comic book and rejoins girl in real world – that old chestnut. The story is not a complex one, but I do have a preference for videos that tell a story. There is not much time to develop character or plot in three to four minutes, so the video’s creators must rely on archetypes and stock characters and situations, as this one does. It is the creative twist of enhancing a regular comic adventure and combining it with live action that makes this one stand out. The aspect that really makes this one jump out, though, is this combination of drawn scenes and live action scenes within each other – not just as clever cut away edits.

The hero (Hartek), after winking at the girl, reaches out and brings her into his comic book world.

In the above scene lead singer live action Morten Hartek sings the chorus to the comic book version of the girl.

Now reverse the scene as the girl looks amazed at a comic book Hartek. Note that in both stills the panels of the comic book remain, giving the viewer the sense of remaining in the comic book with the characters.

Here, the hero Hartek breaks out of the comic book and into the real world.

Clearly, technology today is way better than it was in 1985, but the creativity used in the creation of this video is a clear hallmark of what videos could be and what they will become. I give the slight edge to a-ha’s video over Dire Straits’ Money for Nothingbecause of the lack of the burgeoning computer technology. I absolutely love both the Dire Straits video and You Might Think by the Cars and the way computer graphics are used. Both are clever and original, but both are also missing the clear story and characterization. Neither have a clear series of events that lead to a true climax. To me, Take On Mecombines the “story-ness” that I love in videos with comic book cartoonish graphics, and live action that is cleanly originally blended in to heighten the overall video experience. All of this packed into a whopping 3 minutes and 43 seconds. It will always be my favorite video of all time.


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Crossover Event – Favorite 80s Music Videos


It’s time for another ’80s crossover event! This time we are talking/writing about some of our favorite music videos. Here are the entries from the rest of the ’80s League. Please check all of these people out, and leave comments.

 

 
80s Reboot Overdrive – Podcast and Blog
Killer Kitsch – 1980s Music Videos

 

We were fortunate enough to grow up in a time where we saw the birth of MTV, and watch it become one of the most influential entities of the decade. Before cable TV arrived, we had 3 major networks (and some UHF channels, that only had a little static if we were lucky). Then cable TV opened up a whole new world for us. I loved having HBO and Showtime. Being a sports fan, ESPN was great. You Can’t Do That on Television on Nickelodeon became one of my favorite television shows.

However, most of my television viewing went to MTV. The day I came home from school, and cable was newly installed in our home, the first station I put on was MTV. The first video I saw was “Little Red Corvette” by Prince. I don’t think I was the only person glued to MTV at the time. It was so different than anything else we watched. And if there was a song you loved, if you watched long enough, the video would come back on within a couple of hours. MTV helped out several artists who arrived on the scene at the perfect time – Michael Jackson, Prince, Duran Duran, Madonna. Unfortunately, it ruined some artists who were huge before MTV – buh-bye Christopher Cross and Billy Squier.

Now, for this #Fave80sMusicVideos crossover event, I’ll present some videos that stand out to me. There are many, many more. But, it would take days for this page to finish loading on your screen if I listed all my favorite, and groundbreaking videos. So, we’ll start from the beginning:

Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles

As any ’80s fan knows, this is the one that started it all. Not only is the song title appropriate for the first video to ever air on MTV, but it has that perfect ’80s sound. I still love this song to this day. The video itself isn’t too bad either. It doesn’t have that movie production value. There were some really cheesy and cheap videos in those early days, and this was above most of them.


ZZ Top Eliminator trilogy

While a lot of great acts from the ’60s and ’70s faded away with the dawn of the MTV generation, ZZ Top adapted extremely well. There was no mistaking their signature guitar sound of the ’70s, which made them wildly successful. But, instead of riding off in the sunset, they rode a customized 1930s Ford coupe, called the Eliminator, all the way to the stratosphere. They took advantage of the music video age, and made a marketing coup. While they weren’t the only singles released from the Eliminator album, these trilogy of videos are the most memorable. There is a storyline that runs through all three of these videos. First up…

Gimme All Your Lovin’

Great introduction to this series! I love how the first thing we see, even before the music starts) is the Eliminator. The car pulls up to a gas station, where we meet our protagonist dude, and we are introduced to the 3 Eliminator babes. The dude is a gas station attendant, who has a boss that’s a prick. The band tosses the keys, on the iconic ZZ Top keychain, to the dude, and he goes for a ride, while we listen to this awesome song! At the end, it appears the whole thing was a dream…or was it???

Sharp Dressed Man

Protagonist dude is changing into a tuxedo. He must make a lot of money at the gas station! Oh, wait. He’s a valet who gets treated like crap by coworkers and snooty, rich patrons. Then the Eliminator and Eliminator girls arrive, and the dude goes on another drive. He comes back in a new suit, and parties with the snoots, putting on the dance moves.

Legs

The third and final video of the Eliminator series features a woman as the main protagonist. She’s a mousy girl with glasses who goes to a burger joint, and is harassed by everyone there except for one guy, the cook, who is also harassed. She escapes the joint, leaving behind a food container and her glasses. The cook grabs the stuff and goes after her. She arrives at the shoe store where she works, where she is treated pretty much the same as at the burger joint. The cook gives the poor woman her stuff, then he is unceremoniously thrown out the the door by an asshole. But, he is thrown right in front of the arriving Eliminator. The Eliminator girls step out of the car, help the guy out, and go in the store, and exact revenge on the assholes in the store. Then our protagonist girl gets a makeover. After her makeover, the ladies all head over to the burger joint and rescue the guy, again, exacting revenge on the assholes in that place. The Eliminator drives off into nothing, and ZZ Top waves goodbye to us and fades away.

Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen

Sit down, Waldo! As with several of David Lee Roth’s solo videos, this Van Halen video begins with a kooky skit before it gets into the song. As much as I love Sammy Hagar, there have been very few showmen like David Lee Roth. The whole band was at the top of their game right here. The song starts with that iconic drumbeat, and of course when you have a legend on guitar, you can’t go wrong. Not only is the song awesome, but as a teenage boy when this song came out, I did not mind the hot bikini clad teachers. At all. Looking at it now, it seems just as creepy as Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” video where a boy watches Madonna strip and dance. I also liked how they got kid versions of the band members who liked just like them. This was a very fun and funny video.

Land Of Confusion” by Genesis

Another great song accompanied by an awesome video. Even though this video got constant airplay, I never got sick of it. This was my introduction to the caricature puppets by the British television show Spitting Image. I know that Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” are heavily promoted as innovative videos. But, this is the one that fascinated me. In the age of CGI, I doubt we’ll see the likes of this again.

What were some of your favorite music videos? And don’t forget to visit the other pages and podcasts of my fellow 80s League (soon to be Banzai Club)  members .

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