Remember, Gen Xers, when your dad tried to rip off the cable companies, attempting to upgrade your TV channel selections by hanging an extra modified coat hanger near the old boob tube antennae? If you can recall that, you too probably had a cheap ass dad (or mom?)…and missed out on a lot of classic MTV like I did.
“I’m not going to pay someone to see a man in makeup,” my dad would say about that devil channel. Never mind he loved watching them in Hollywood movies. But when the clouds seem to be just at the right angle over our house, I knew there was a God; I could sometimes tune in a grainy MTV Yo Raps show or one of Prince’s kinky videos.
Video killed the radio star and Snooky killed MTV. I can’t say I completely miss the old MTV. Music videos aren’t gone. They’re just a sticky click away thanks to the internet. Over the years, I came to think about some of the music videos I have seen, some soooo bad, they are just BAD (caca, not phat bad). Others are so bad, they are actually quite good. Here are just some of the videos I think are quite off the mark for some reason or another, yet seem to possess some sort of artistic merit. The ten are in NO particular rank or order. Note: Video Links Not Included due to my addiction to lethargy.
1. “This is Not a Love Song” by Public Image Ltd. Excess anyone? It’s 1983. John Lydon is milking it every way he can. No one listens to lyrics anymore. It’s money they hear. High rises, jets, limos, and expensive suits rule from the UK to Ronnie Reagan’s America. Priceless.
2. “Losing You” by Jan Terri. Speaking of high rises, who needs expensive sets when downtown some faux New York, skyscraping city can do it all for you. Jan comes in like a monster Muppet, yet cool as a sea slug. She makes sure she includes what every rock video should have: Limo…check. Jet airplane…check. Motorcycle…check. Black Leather Jacket…check. Hairy Mexican man that looks like my Tio Alfredo…check (huh?). Is she mocking videos or just guilty of having poor taste? Doesn’t matter. Forget that she is a nobody. Miss Piggy, eat your heart out.
3. “Bat Dance” by Prince. Who else could get away with dancing in Cuban heels? Uh, James Brown, Bono, Rick James, ok, never mind. But who else could leap over a dancer’s crotch and not look like a weenie? Ok, so Prince looks like a dancing weenie. Still, who else would you want to compose the Batman theme? Bruce Springsteen and Meatloaf have left the room.
4. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke (ft. T.I. and Pharrell). Gaudy is god in this sleek piece. So gaudy, I think Donatella Versace is going to pout her way into the background in a cameo. Its squeaky clean…so clean, its unreal, and that is the point. The video inspires me so much, I shave my armpits after watching. Everything is sooo WAXY, kissing the screen would achieve lip gloss application. The song itself is stupid, and I am annoyed by the women wearing SaranWrap as fashion. Nevertheless, I like white paper, which is the real rising star hidden behind all the dancing monkeys.
5.” Got Your Money” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I’d like to think Ol’ Dirty is up there in some ghetto heaven, somewhere getting another gold tooth put in while dancing to some big fat mama beat. Hip Hop today has taken itself way too serious. Bastard knew how to walk the fine line between rough and loose. The whole song is so politically incorrect, Oprah would pay to have it not run if she could go back in time. I don’t care. It’s a clown’s reflection of the dark side of certain people’s reality. We jump from cheap ’70’s film clips to tacky clothes to whores with Afros to fake kung fu kicks. Funky, funny, rude, and tragic, just like a wino who has forgotten to zip his fly.
6. “The Day That Never Comes” by Metallica. Did you think you heavy metalers would get out of this post? HA! Let me just say, I love the song. Yet, some things make me uneasy with this video. The storyline itself isn’t the problem, but I question the ethics behind depicting “our troops”. Our? Whose? How did that slip in there? I know the intentions of the band: Write a song about the woes of war, especially contemporary wars (Women in chadors and men being shot for oil reserves). THink about our veterans and all their sacrifices. THink about their plight. There are hundreds of songs that illustrate the many sides of war. No issue there. So what is the issue? In the first moments of the video, we see two American soldiers out in the desert on lookout watch. They wait and look and wait? Waiting for what? We watch, popcorn in hand. Apparently one soldier is shot (or hit with shrapnel?). The slow reactions and relative calm on the faces of the soldiers after one is wounded are what first bother me. It’s either bad acting or,worse, very good acting. Either way, it leaves me uncomfortable. How realistic is this? We watch as the wounded troop is dragged off like a dead deer being moved from blocking the middle of the road. Next, there is more waiting. And waiting. It reminds me of the time I asked my Marine Corps. enlisted husband what it was like when deployed to Afghanistan. “A lot of sitting around,” he admitted. That was until the day the Taliban raided their base, killing a few of the fellow Marines he worked with back in 2012. The video cuts to long hair flying as the band plays on. Cut again. We then see a stalled car and a scruffy Islamic man with wife blocking the American soldiers roadway. We don’t know if these people are genuinely in need or suicide bombers. It is a tense moment. Death, deception, drama, and deliverance. Does this video salute our veterans or does it exploit them? Both.
7. “FAT” by “Weird Al” Yankovic. “Who’s fat?” That’s Weird Al. Though most of his videos could pass for crappy, this one wins in my race to the shitter. Why? Because its genius. At first glance, it seems obvious he is poking fun at lipids. VERY NOT NICE…VERY VERY NOT NICE. Again, Oprah cringes. But as the video progresses, something strange in my brain happens. I start to see it empower heavy-set people in a sick and twisted way. He dances…fat people dance too. He sings. Fat people do that. He likes to wear sexy rock star clothes. Fat people do that too. SO what…YOU ARE FAT. Who cares. In the end, it is tacky, and mean. But is there another way to see what phat is?
8. “I’ll Tumble For Ya” by Culture Club. “Mommy, do I have to tap dance next to this creepy man with eye shadow?” Why yes dear, don’t you know that’s Boy George? For years I tried so hard to have the fierce make up applying skills that Mr. Boy seems to pull off. To no avail, I suck at cosmetology. Somehow, this ULTRA metro sexual man (like saying Mt. Everest is a bit of a hill) keeps my eyes entertained. Maybe its the swinging dread locks that seem to put me in a daze in much the same way a hypnotist uses a dangling stop watch. And what about that circus clown in the first moments of the video? Why isn’t Boy George’s makeup enough for one video? What next…dancing poodles? Instead, they film dancing virgins, literally…young girls who will soon learn how to apply lipstick on manly lips. Entertaining in a gay sort of way. This performance proves Culture Club is willing to tumble all over themselves as a pony show and its OK.
9. “Going Back to Cali” by LL Cool J. Staring LL’s lips! The video itself is just ok. But those lips…yikes. You could knock out my mama with those. It gives me goose bumps in a good and yucky way. LL himself is chill, youthful, fresh, and reserved. Everything is shot in bland, black and white film. Nothing much happens. No chains or whips . No twerking. No tongues being stuck out. No cage fights. LL Cool J glides through with ease, unlike some hip hoppers today who think that they all have to put their bodies into a manic seizure to entertain us. Yet, its sex appeal slips through. I guess a dancing girl’s crotch subtly being filmed from a low angle camera around the two-minute video mark helps. Naughty naughty, but relax. She is still wearing panties. Sharon Stone, where are you when we need you? Oh, at the plastic surgeon. She is going back to Cali. I, by the way, am already here.10. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. I know you are thinking…”What is she thinking? “Thriller” is classic. There’s nothing wrong with this video!” Lets stop and rewind. What makes a video awful? Bad acting? Corny characters? Overplay? Well, this video has all three of those ill elements. Every time I watch Michael act like he has a crush on the black girl at the beginning, I can picture Lisa Marie Presley snort with laughter. Not an Oscar-winning moment. And zombies? I have seen better costumes thrown together on Halloween by teens in East L.A. (Never mind their blood is real though). But what really bugged me was how often ( A LOT !) this video ran for years on MTV (So long, I finally got to purchase my own cable as an adult). It’s only saving grace: Michael. The man can sing and dance and make the most of every corny video concept pushed upon him. All others are wannabes and worse, Justin Biebers. For Michael’s ability to save this stinker, it is a classic.