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The 8 worst videos of the 1980s

By Rockdog

   

8. Journey – “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” (1983)

Journey’s first real video is a disaster of epic proportions (think: Hindenburg). For starters, the band, who can actually play musical instruments, spends most of their time in the video playing air instruments, while a semi-good looking girl ... walks. Yea, that is the concept of this video. Even better, it turns out (at the end, if you are masochistic enough to watch the whole thing through) that the entire video is a dream. Seriously. In between, Steve Perry massively over-acts while lip-singing, while wearing the classic sleeveless 80s t-shirt – although, to be fair, the rest of the band looks like they just rolled out of bed, as well. MTV played the hell out of this piece of crap, probably because Journey was hugely successful after their Escape album, and this was more or less all that MTV had (earlier Journey videos were cut from concert footage). Ranked by MTV’s viewers as one of the 25 worst videos ever in 1999.

 

7. Eddie Murphy – “Party All the Time” (1985)

Rick James (“I’m Rick James, bitch”) helped with this one, although he was smart, he would not have sought songwriting credit. The concept of the video is pretty simple: Eddie Murphy sings the song in a recording studio. Murphy sings about as well as you would expect a comedian to, and the song is pretty derivative pop funk. Murphy also wears a really ugly shirt. Rick James watches, excitedly, from the sound booth. Luckily, Eddie Murphy soon abandoned his recording “career” and went back to being a top shelf comedian. The song has shown up on a few worst lists in the intervening years.

6. Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry Be Happy” (1988)

Look, I have no doubt that Bobby McFerrin is a talented guy. He has won 10 Grammys (OK, that proves nothing, I know), but I think he is viewed as a talented vocalist. But this song is just ... well, it is damn repetitive. And the video, with Robin Williams and profession clown (yes, really) Bill Irwin is just lame. In fact, I think that the guys know that the song is weak, so they are trying to distract you from the fact that the chorus repeats itself something like 30,000 times. By the way, this song won song of the year, record of the year, and best male pop vocals at the 1989 Grammys. Lastly, I beg you not to listen to this, because if you do, it will bounce around your head for about two weeks.

5. Asia – “Heat of the Moment” (1982)

Asia’s biggest hit (it went to #4 on the U.S. charts), from their self-titled debut. The video is a moving 16 box interpretation of the song that has to be the most inane, concrete interpretation of a song’s lyrics ever. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and watch it (paying attention to the lyrics). As one example, the line “heat of the moment” is shown as a “Heat” branding a piece of plywood and then a clock. I would love to have been in the meeting when this was pitched to the record label (“We’re going to make the laziest, least imaginative concept video ever.”) Shockingly directly by Godley and Creme, who went on to become hugely successful by making music videos that were much better than this.

4. Styx – “Mr. Roboto” (1983)

Styx’s attempt at a rock opera, protesting censorship (and robots). The video starts with the band pretending to be robots, followed by the band dancing robotically in robot costumes while the lyrics ... oh man, it is like some bad Broadway musical (with robots). To be fair, rock operas (or musicals) are hard to pull off, and the situation is not helped by Dennis DeYoung’s lavender jumpsuit. You would think, though, that someone at the label would have talked to the band about this, while frequently using the term “career suicide.” Rated as the second worst video ever by the Video Ga Ga Music Blog. (Vanilla Ice’s “I Love You” takes home the top spot). And did I mention the robots?

3. Cheap Trick – “Up the Creek” (1984)

Look, I like Cheap Trick. Having said that, they should really issue an apology for this clunker. From the 1984 movie of the same title, the band is acting out ... well, it looks like they are acting out their version of the movie. Unfortunately, the guys in Cheap Trick act about as well as you would expect. Ok, perhaps a little worse than you would expect. The video features your typical magic bathtub that is connected to a pool, chicks in bikinis, arrows, fishing poles, and a dog. Suffice to say, when future generations look back on videos as an art form, this will not be mentioned. The only good news is that the band rarely plays the song in concerts (Call me cynical, but I think they did this one for the cash).

2. REO Speedwagon – “Can’t Fight This Feeling” (1985)

Derivative pop song and pretentious video showing a man’s life in just over four and a half minutes. The video starts with a baby, and transitions through the different life stages as the band plays on. My favorite stage – the REO Speedwagon sweatshirt stage that includes looking out the window at the chorus of static TV faced women (around 1:35 ... really). Then there is the “teenager in a box-house that falls apart” stage and the “lets stand by a chair for 50 years” stage. (It is a nice touch to have the ugly schooner sail off at the end during the snowstorm, though.) The band actually released a second video for the song, with an intro showing them trying to song in different keys and then performing. Makes you wonder at what point they realized that the first video sucked.

1. Dennis DeYoung – “Desert Moon” (1984)

Where to begin with this one? Well, first of all, I won’t even get into the music – by the early 1980s, Dennis DeYoung was basically writing show tunes, so there’s no point in making fun of him for that. And the first 3 seconds of the video with the train – well, they’re not too bad. Things go downhill quickly after that – starting with the neon blue plaid shirt, to the tough guys, who don’t look very tough. The sports scenes are unintentionally hilarious – let’s just say that Dennis does not make a very convincing quarterback. And who keeps a vintage Mustang in their garage ... and then gives it away? I mean, no-one ever gave me a car, that’s all I’m saying. DeYoung also tends to overact more or less continuously, so the end result is a poor man’s musical. I say skip this, and go see Rent instead.

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