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. Yup, 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
over-acts while lip-syncing, wearing a 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,
following the huge success of Journey’s ‘Escape’ album. The situation
was mad worse because it was all that MTV had to work with (earlier
Journey videos were cut from concert footage). My feelings were
validated when in 1999, this stinker of a video was ranked by MTV’s
viewers as one of the 25 worst videos ever.
7. Eddie Murphy – “Party All the
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
I have no doubt that Bobby McFerrin is a talented guy. He’s won 10 Grammys
(OK, that proves nothing, I know), after all. But this song is just ...
well, painfully repetitive. And the video, with Robin Williams and
professional 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 click the play button below. If you do, the earwig you’ll have
for the next two weeks is on you, not me.
5. Asia – “Heat of the Moment”
This song was Asia’s biggest hit (it went to #4 on the U.S. charts) from
their self-titled debut album. 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.”) Even more disappointing, this video
was shockingly directly by Godley and Creme, who went on to become
hugely successful by making really great music videos.
4. Styx – “Mr. Roboto” (1983)
This next stinker represents 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 ... well, you get the picture. It is like a 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.” If you need additional proof, it was 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”
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 what looks like 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, chics in bikinis,
arrows, fishing poles, and a dog. Let's put it this way, 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)
Here's the summary: 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
(for reference, around 1:35). Then there is the
teenager-in-a-box-house-that-falls-apart stage and the
lets-stand-by-a-chair-for-50-years stage. Although, I think we can all
agree that it's 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 sing in
different keys and then performing--makes you wonder at what point they
realized the first video sucked.
1. Dennis DeYoung – “Desert Moon”
Where to begin with this one? First of all, I won’t even get into the
music (except that I will) – by the early 1980s, Dennis DeYoung was
basically writing show tunes, so there’s no point in making fun of him
for that. Next up, the first three seconds of the video with the train
are just unfortunate. Things go downhill quickly after that – starting
with the neon blue plaid shirt on through 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?
DeYoung also tends to overact more or less continuously, resulting in a
poor man’s musical. I say: skip this, and go see Rent instead.