5. Fat by Weird Al. I am quite disappointed in my colleagues for not including any Weird Al in their lists. That fact that his career neatly parallels the history of music videos is no coincidence. His music parodies are fine, but his video parodies are what makes him enduring, and he did some great ones in the 80’s. I could have included Like A Virgin, but his best one (maybe ever) is Fat. Do you know how hard it is to mimic the King of Pop’s moves(very effectively, I might add), while wearing a fat suit? It is not easy at all.
4. Like a Prayer by Madonna. Ms. Donna is another artist whose career benefited mightily from music videos. I should say that during the 80’s I had my head firmly planted in the fundamentalist sand, so I didn’t notice much when I was living through it. Even so, videos like the one for Like A Prayer made such an impact that even I was aware of their existence, even though much of the stir was due to their being edgy and subversive. Looking at them now, it’s hard to imagine why they were ever controversial. Besides being pseudo-sacrilegious¹, Like A Prayer is just flat-out well-made and well-conceived. The production values are really strong, and the music is pretty good as well.
3. Take On Me by a-ha & Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel: Okay, I cheated a bit here. When Matt first proposed this topic, Take On Me was one of the videos that immediately came to mind. However, I was actually unfamiliar with Sledgehammer. Matt and Blake have actually convinced me of its greatness. I didn’t want to choose one or the other, or kick another pick off my list. I also didn’t want to disappoint my friend Nino (who will probably never see this), seeing how he is a big Peter Gabriel fan. Since they both use animation in very clever ways, I decided to lump them together. “But what about the rules?” you ask. My reply is: “Rules? Where we’re going, we don’t need rules.”
2. Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd. Since Matt was able to use something from Purple Rain, I get to use this². And this is by far the better one. I’m not a big Pink Floyd fan, and I like only most of The Wall (the movie, that is), but this sequence works. The frightening images juxtaposed with the stand-up-and-sing-along music makes for a very compelling experience.
1. Thriller by Michael Jackson. Do I even have to argue this? Does anyone not recognize this as one of the greatest music videos ever made? I mean, come on. Directed by John Landis. Featuring incidental music by Elmer Bernstein. Special make-up effects by Rick Baker. Brilliant choreography by Jackson himself. This is in so many ways the pinnacle of music videos
Honarable mention: Not actually from the 80’s, and not actually a music video, but I think it deserves mention here:
¹Maybe. I don’t know. Is that the right phrase?