I Want My Empty Vee!
My All-Time Fave Music Videos
An eclectic countdown...
OK, my GF Amy looked at my list and blew it off with a perfunctory raspberry, saying, "Pffft! You just like videos with girls shaking their butts around." I do not deny it. But I also like a lot of other videos that don't appeal to my inner Beavis or Butthead...videos that may be basic but also primal or seminal in that they were the first visual cues I had for a favorite group like Devo, Buzzcocks, or Pizzicato Five. Iconic images that stick with you through the vestiges of time in an age of constant over-stimulation (admittedly those shaking butts don't help!) Videos like...
Pizzicato Five - "Sweet Soul Revue"
This was my first glimpse of my fave J-Pop band Pizzicato Five and the images of Miss Maki Nomiya shaking those maracas and evoking the style and charm of Audrey Hepburn in the roof concert scene while P5 mastermind-maestro Yasuharu Konishi boogies away on his Hofner bass and original guitarist Keitaro Takanami strums his Fender guitar have become iconic for me...This was my first transmission from a band that never made a bad or uninteresting video and it always stuck with me. I read that this song was a big hit in the Philppines and that it was used on Japan's Ranma 1/2 syndicated TV show. A real treat!
OK, here are the the requisite "girls on film" viddies to get out of the way straight away!
Make The Girl Dance "Baby Baby Baby" ( official video )
Visually arresting (in fact, I'm amazed no one was!) and educational to boot (it's a great way to learn "street" French!).
Cheeky Girls - "Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)"
When the Cheeky Girls sing "This is life: Touch my bum" it's an ontological refutation of philosopher George Berkeley (Bishop of Cloyne)'s "immaterialism" theory, which held that individuals can only know life through ideas and not physical matter. Samuel Johnson famously refuted this theory by kicking a stone; Cheeky Girls refute it by clenching the taut junk in their trunks. These babies have back, and it matters.
And speaking of back...
Sir Mix-a-Lot - "Baby Got Back"
Sir Mix-a-Lot offers an urban refutation of Bishop Berkeley's ontological theory of "immaterialism." A literal exercise in Form over Substance.
Food For Worms - "It Needs a Haircut" (1983)
Food For Worms were the cleverest/funniest band of My Generation...This was the video they made in 1983 and submitted to MTV, only to have it rejected for being too morbid. Shame, because in the early "desperate" days of MTV, just about anything got on air (remember the local Slickee Boys and Bootcamp videos on there?). My GF Amy Davis is in there somewhere as a veiled mourner, as well as her friend Liz.
I actually helped inspire this song when I told FFW songwriting-keyboardist Mark O'Connor about my barber Charles, who used to groom corpses for funeral viewings; this was back when they had that barber shop in Cross Keys and I recall Charles regaling me with stories about how he worked with morticians to restore the faces of the deceased who had met with violent ends from traffic fatalities and homicides (he even gave me a coffin crank-lever that I still have). It was actually a conflation of influences, because Mark then recalled having a long-haired biker friend who died in a motorcycle accident and, upon his passing, was promptly "cleaned up" by his parents to look like a choir boy. It seemed like a sure-fire idea for a summertime hit, kinda like going to the beach...
And speaking of going to the beach (and the Slickee Boys)...
Slickee Boys - "When I Go To the Beach" (1983)
I love(d) DC's Slickee Boys and was delighted to see a local band appear on MTV! Now, of course, MTV doesn't play music videos anymore and this stab-from-the-analog-past has been relegated to YouTube. But the song itself was featured in the 1987 retro-surf movie Back To The Beach, which starred Frankie, Annette and an O.J. Simpson cameo!
Thomas Dolby - "She Blinded Me with Science"
(Director: Thomas Dolby, 1982)
My heavens Miss Sakamoto, you are beautiful! And, truly, poetry in motion. I wonder who she was and where she is today (finding outremains remains one of my life's great quests).
The old man shouting "Science!" is real-life British scientist and TV presenter Magnus Pyke.
Amy likes this viddy because the guitar solo was courtesy of XTC's Andy Partridge.
OK Go - "Here It Goes Again"
Brilliant. What else can I say? Other than I wish OK Go's treadmill routine would become part of the gymnastics program at the next Summer Olympics.
OK Go - "This Too Shall Pass"
Wow, they did it again! This is the famous Rube Goldberg video. Never has educational instruction in physics been so entertaining!
Devo - "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
(Director: Chuck Statler, 1978)
All the Chuck Statler "videos" (actually shot on film) are great, but General Boy chaperoning, Booji Boy sticking a fork in a toaster, the punk rock kid somersaulting himself, the herky-jerky robotic band footage...these are enduring images I'll never get out of my head.
Buzzcocks - "What Do I Get?"
This is a "bare-bones, no frills" standard band-lip-synching-to-recorded-track video that is no great shakes on a technical level, but it was my introduction to the Buzzcocks when I saw it on a (late 70s/early 80s?) TV music video show called Rock World. As such, it is indelibly stamped on my cerebellum (right next to its expiration date)
Bob Dylan - "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (1965)
Another simple video that remains iconic and revolutionary at the same time. One of the most parodied/reference music videos of all time. (Check out "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody "Bob"!) Most people first saw it as the opening segment of D. A. Pennebaker's film Dont Look Back, which documented Dylan's 1965 England tour. The cue cards were written by Donovan, Allen Ginsberg (who can be seen standing in the background), Dylan crony Bob Neuwirth and Dylan himself. I love the cue card spelling of "Suckcess." Conceptually, it spawned everything from VH1's "Pop-up Music Video" to Make the Girl Dance's "Baby Baby Baby."
David Lee Roth - "California Girls"
David Lee Roth actually won a technical award for this video - and it wasn't for the girls' silicone injections! (It was for color effects - in his bio, Diamond Dave claims he was zonked out on chemicals and just mucked around with the saturation until he achieved...genius). I don't know why I find DLR so amusing, but I do, especially when he leers at healthy young women and croons "Hot diggity dog!"
Robert Palmer - "Addicted To Love"
Greatest. Backing. Band. Ever. OK, I'm not a deep thinker, but this one really grabs me - for all the wrong reasons!
Chemical Brothers - "Let Forever Be"
(Director: Michel Gondry, 1999)
Ah, the great Michel Gondry. We showed this on Atomic TV back when we used to get all the Astralwerks promo videos...like Daft Punk's "Around the World"...
Daft Punk - "Around the World"
(Director: Michel Gondry, 1997)
Cibo Mato - "Sugar Water"
(Director: Michel Gondry, 1996)
The Memento of music videos, with everything filmed backwards to forwards, and yet another Michel Gondry film (and yet another video aired on Atomic TV!).
Prodigy - "Smack My Bitch Up"
Greatest. Music. Video. Ever. I'm proud to say Atomic TV aired the uncensored version on Baltimore City cable years ago, as this is what many of my friends would call "a perfect night out on the town." Sex, drugs, rock & roll - and Asian carryout! How can you not love that?
Pardon the commercials at the beginning, but it's hard to find an uncensored version. Why did rock music have to get so clean and Disneyfied? Hip is what is centrally located between the toe and the tip, as they say. That is hip.