The Golden Age of Music Video
October 25, 2011 12:48 PM   Subscribe

The Golden Age of Music Video blog, chock full of "amazing true tales from Music Video's greatest era (1976-1993), is written by Stephen Pitalo, a music video historian currently writing a book with interviews of more than fifty music video directors who shot iconic clips during the genre's heyday."
posted by not_on_display (11 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Intense... the very first entry is about 80s songs that cram in a breakdancing scene and that was also my first Spotify playlist!
posted by SharkParty at 12:53 PM on October 25, 2011

Anybody site with this line:

Robert Plant’s post-Zep videos in the 1980s are something to behold

is something worth checking out. Truer words, my friend, have never been spoken.

Speaking of words, I just learned why breakdancing was called "breakdancing." I feel very dumb now.

Weirdly, I clearly remember having this exact same 'a ha!' moment as a kid with 'breakfast' -- though it's the homonym that held me back from making the realization because I was always thinking about 'breaking' as something that was happening to the dancer, not to the music.

(Did you hear that the kid from the Pepsi commercial broke his neck doing it when he was eating Pop Rocks with Mikey from the Life cereal commercial? Cause I did. Hear that at least.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:04 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

This entry jumped out at me right away: Journey “Separate Ways” video director answers our “WTF?” questions. That is one of the worse videos ever (even by Journey standards) and it's one I always wondered what the fuck they were thinking.

In that spirit, I'm hoping they also have the backstory on Billy Squier's "Rock Me Tonite" somewhere in those archives.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:08 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Of course, the above should read "Any site with this line..."

It should also include my opening thoughts that detailed analysis of stuff like this is exactly what the Internet is for. Is it weird that I'm already getting nostalgic for well written, one topic blogs in this day of Tumblr and tweets? Because that's the reaction I've had here.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:08 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Journey “Separate Ways” video director answers our “WTF?” questions.

Oh god. I was just trying to explain this video to my wife the other night. I told her, Steve Perry is wearing a skin-tight, sleeveless, taxicab-print shirt, and there's a keyboard on a wall, and they're all playing air instruments, and break those, the chains that bind you.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:31 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by uncleozzy at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2011

Some day I will explain that music videos once existed outside of YouTube to my child...
posted by Artw at 1:36 PM on October 25, 2011

This entry jumped out at me right away: Journey “Separate Ways” video director answers our “WTF?” questions.

That video was my inspiration to post this—there was a thread about this video in my trivia league's forum that pointed toward this entry. A still image from that video had been featured in a question in the "MTV: The Early Years" mini-league, and I knew the video right off, despite not having seen it in at least 28 years.

I thought, at first, I would just post an FPP about that one video, highlighting that one post, but when I started rummaging through the blog, I realized that it was a total treasure trove.

Be sure to check out the parody videos of "Separate Ways," too!
posted by not_on_display at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

my 80s includes Negativland
posted by philip-random at 1:49 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am still hoping to get a chance to see the full-length version of Mick Jagger's "Just Another Night" video so I can see Rae Dawn Chong in it.
posted by Trurl at 2:06 PM on October 25, 2011

One of the things I adore about the Jehovah's Witnesses, once I took the time to get to know a few, is that they believe the world has already ended—in 1922, if memory serves—and that we're in this sort of post-apocalyptic sorting-out period, where God's picking out favorites for the afterlife. My nieces are reaching that age where they're suddenly fixated on the eighties, and man, am I glad I saved all those checkerboard suspenders, Swatches, leg warmers, pink vinyl jackets, two-toned fake Rayban Wayfarers, white seersucker pants with 43 zippers, asymmetrical muscle shirts with scribble writing, mesh overlays, and random grommets, so I can be a superhero whereas I've thus far just been their litmus test for whether their friends are worthy or not.

Youtube should make me nostalgic, and it sort of does, but more in the sense of wishing I could go back to the era where bombing begins in five minutes and there's this new miracle disease I heard about that turns fruits into vegetables ha ha HA oh my fucking god, I could hardly stop laughing in the eighties, it was all so damned hilarious. I just need to get back there in time, so I can stop them from giving the correct password to WOPR, so it'll all just...end.

Mind you, I had a mullet, man, a sky-high mullet fluffed to maximum loft with L'Oreal Coloriffic Outrageous Shades mousse that actually kept getting caught up in the track lighting when I was dancing naked on a bar that's now buried under a baseball stadium, and I had the checkerboard slip-on Vans and the Hawaiian slip-on Vans and the magenta lightning bolt on teal slip-on Vans and a pair of those string underpants from International Male that showcased your mashed-up junk in a little net bag at the front and flossed your ass while you walked, and my super-amazing WM-10 Walkman that was exactly the same size as a cassette case when it was folding was always playing Scritti Politti, over and over and over.

"Did you guys really think that stuff was cool, Uncle Joe?" they ask, and I shake my head.

"No, I was into it ironically before anyone else was into it ironically."

"Are you saying that ironically right now?" my niece asks, narrowing her eyes.

"Heavens no."

I point them in the direction of the wreckage, the Billy Squier video and all those videos set in manufactured rooms with mega mega outrageous lighting in those super eighties vignettes where things took place in striped rooms behind tilted chartreuse window frames hanging at angles from wires. I hand over my now-treasured garbage, the eighties gear I bought at the lesser outlets, like Jeans West and such. My triple-layered black and white acid wash jeans with pockets placed importantly below the knees get gasps from the generation of Chernobyl survivors.

"Yes, dear, we thought those things were cool," I say, rolling my eyes to indicate more irony, but I am, briefly, as cool as an entire bullshitty decade of human dissolution, so I can do nothing but joyfully play along. "Let me show you my collection of arbitrary buttons."

The music videos are the worst, though, and the great embarrassing secret of the eighties is that virtually every piece of video, broadcast television, and even movies were really just part of a billion hour demo tape for a tiny Australian tech company that single-handedly created the sound and look of a decade. The big secret, held even now by some, is that it was all completely arbitrary, visual imagery based on whatever strange location or video gimmick you could get your hands on at the time within a given budget, and even high art and clever pop succumbed to the cheap thrill of the blue screen and the non-linear compositing process.

Critics argued over the meaning of these day-glo wonders, all winking in obedience to the secret, lest anyone figure out that it's all just random, unrelated jumbled images, completely devoid of any relationship to the lyrics and preferably spray-painted with embarrassing caucasian impersonations of grafitti, or checkerboarded, striped, and otherwise painted in eye-burning clashing colors and lit with a third and even more eye-burning color. It was the eighties, man—that morning in America, where we were Born In The USA, in the USA-USA-USA, in the Rappin' Ronnie world-of-the-future eighties. We're Number One, y'all—just check the big foam rubber finger, yo.

Just like all those magical instruments people managed to play on Ed Sullivan with nary a cord plugged into an instrument, we somehow managed to just let it all go in those go-go-go eighties, even when it was just so very, very, very tragic to watch.

Me, I just wanted a Fairlight more than anything, even though they ran $100K and brochures came frosted with the cocaine that blew across the industry like a Kansas dust storm, which is why I bought my first (modest) sampling keyboard to launch my not particularly famous musical career, and why I recently bought the most insanely expensive iPhone app in the universe so that the sixteen year-old me, sulking somewhere in the back of my brain with his cockatoo hairdo flopped over from a lack of mousse and enthusiasm, could finally live in that weird fake world of the eighties that always receded from our reach, twenty minutes into the future, as the whole American experiment finally came apart at the seams.

We finally caught up, and wow, it really was just a lot of spray paint, par cans with magenta gels, and pixelated layers of crap and Billy Squier rolling around in torn-up shirts forever and ever and ever instead of Orwell's famous face-stomping boot.

This is the golden age as we know it, and I feel fine.
posted by sonascope at 2:53 PM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]

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