I was weaned on MTV in the early to mid 1980s. MTV was cool. The bands were cool. So how come when I was trapped on an airplane last week watching “VH1 Classic: The 1980s,” I felt a deep sense of humiliation? And very un-cool.
It turns out that the 1980s haven’t aged well. This was disturbing news. But goddamn it we captured the whole embarrassing decade on video. The proof was right in front of me – courtesy of JetBlue.
It was not unlike finding my high school prom photographs stuffed in a shoebox under my bed and wondering what in the hell I was thinking renting a baby-blue tuxedo with a ruffled shirt and tails? And who in God’s name is the chubby girl in the matching dress wearing a gallon of hair spray on that mountain of peroxide blond curls? Did I date her?
This unexpected trip down music video memory lane conjured up disturbing questions like: “Did I really think Laura Branigan was hot?” and “How in the hell did Boy George not get arrested for sex crimes?”
There are so many bad videos from the 1980s that it would be impossible to list them all. But we try to give you a sense of how wine occasionally goes bad in the bottle with a list we’re calling Dark Party’s 10 Really Bad Music Videos from the 1980s:
Caught Up in You
.38 Special did Southern fried rock well. The problem with .38 Special was there identity as a 1970s arena rock band. By the time they rolled out the song “Caught Up in You” in 1982, the band looked ready for a retirement home. “Caught Up in You” is the most amateurish videos on our list. It looks as if freshman boys from the AV Club made it. The band tries desperately to look “hip” in an eighties style rock club, but the beards, long hair, and cowboy gear don’t gel with feathered blown dry hair of everyone else. The tre de resistance is the fat tattooed biker who guzzles cans of Budweiser throughout the video and ends up falling off his stool.
It’s a Miracle
This may be the gayest music video of all time. And to borrow a line from Seinfeld: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” The band looks like a group of sexually confused Village People rejects skipping around a set better suited to the Teletubbies. Looming above it all is the eerie, authoritative presence of Boy George (think Josef Stalin dressed up like Betty Crocker). “It’s a Miracle” features some of the ugliest 80s garb on video. It’s like the band raided David Lee Roth’s closet.
There are lots of plastic garbage bags in this video: garbage bags lining streets, garbage bags hanging from windows, garbage bags doubling as wallpaper. There are also lots of street signs blazing in neon. Amazingly, “Self Control” was one of the first music videos filmed by an actual director. The plot has to do with innocent Laura Branigan being seduced by the “night,” which is really a bunch of dancers caked in baby powder pretending to have an orgy. These are “the creatures of the night.” And this is one damn silly video.
Rock Me Tonight
Did you know Billy Squier sleeps on white satin sheets? That he’s fond of sleeveless t-shirts? That he likes to skip around his bedroom in tight pink pants? Well, you will after watching this glorified masturbation video. This is the creepiest video you’re ever likely to see. But hey, Billy can skip and prance really well. If you’ve ever wondered what Boy George would look like if he were channeling Little Red Riding Hood then “Rock Me Tonight” is for you.
Ashford & Simpson
I don’t know which one is Ashford. Nor do I care. This entire video takes place under a walking bridge in
The video Milton Berle made famous by showing up in drag. What in was he thinking? The plot is about Ratt disrupting a formal dinner party and introducing the prim and proper daughter to sexual inhibitions. Oh, the clichés! This song wins the award for the worst reference to a Shakespearean tragedy (Romeo and Juliet). The video comes to a climax when the Ratt lead guitarist crashes through the ceiling and onto the dining room table just in time for his solo. Interestingly, the band wears more make-up than Milton Berle.
Flock of Seagulls
“I Ran” is an excellent song. The video, however, is horrendous. The concept is pretty much: “Let’s put lead singer and keyboard player Mike Score on a revolving stage with mirrors behind him. And, hey, isn’t that the camera not-so-carefully hidden under some aluminum foil? And, oh, let’s throw in two hot looking girls wearing black garbage bags to dance around (perhaps Laura Branigan will lend us the garbage bags). And let’s also force Mike to wearing a really bad red shirt with ruffles.” Unfortunate is so many ways.
Dexys Midnight Runners
Come on Eileen
Dexys Midnight Runners had an interesting look: denim overalls without shirts. Who knew that armpit hair could be so repulsive?
Greg Kihn Band
Give Greg Kihn kudos for imagination, but “Jeopardy” descends into “ugh” range because of its cheesy “special effects” (and some rather bad acting by Mr. Kihn). In fact, the not-so-special effects are downright disturbing (the mother and father connected at the hip by a pulsating intestine, for example). The main problem with “Jeopardy” is that the concept was ahead of it’s time. They just didn’t have the technical know-how to pull it off and the result is a disappointing horror movie parody.
Yes, the video is supposed to be cheesy. But “Whip It” transcends cheese – into stupidity. The band, for some unknown reason, wears sleeveless black turtle necks and black short pants. The band weighs a collective 129 pounds so if you want to see hairy legs that resemble alabaster toothpicks – Devo has a video for you.