Thursday, December 31, 2020

97/100 Video - "Jump" - Van Halen (1984)

While the video for Van Halen's classic hit song "Jump" is a straightforward mock performance, it looked ground-breaking at the time.

But it's the natural chemistry and random stage moves of the entire band that lift this video to the top of the class.

The ever colourful David Lee Roth and guitar legend Eddie Van Halen were born to be in front of the camera. 

We may remember Roth first and foremost as a showman, but he was a pretty good damn singer, too

And then there's Eddie and his guitar magic. This clip also reminds us he was equally adept at playing the synthesizer. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

98/100 Video - "She" - Clan of Xymox (2020)

One of the original darkwave bands from the 80s, Dutch artist Clan of Xymox released "She" in 2020, a throwback to their goth roots. 

The synths are strong and hypnotic, and they work in synch with the lush guitars to create an ominous yet appealing melody. 

At first glance, this video appears gloomy. A girl dancing alone, post-apocalyptic, in what appears to be an old warehouse on the sketchy side of town. 

I find this clip unintentionally captures the zeitgeist of 2020. Like the girl in the video, we learned to dance with the darkness. Connected while apart. Dare I even suggest, we embraced it. And the good news in the end. She woke up from her dream with her tunes, and health, still intact.

This video also reminds me of the sheer fun we had in exploring abandoned buildings as kids. While underage and too young to sneak into the clubs of downtown Halifax, we broke into an abandoned convent instead. On the top floor we found some sort a sitting circle and what appeared to be a recent séance. Cool and creepy stuff.

For a sample of the band's earlier works, check out "A Day" from 1985.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

99/100 Video - "Let’s Dance" – David Bowie (1983)

It would be sacrilegious to make a top 100 countdown without at least one Bowie tune.

"Let’s Dance" by David Bowie debuted in Canada in 1983. The clip was filmed in the Australian outback.

The first time I watched this video I recall asking the room, "who is this cool new artist playing guitar in the corner of some dive bar?"

"That's David Bowie", my dad said. "He was big in the 70s. A good musician but kind of a weirdo".

I shouldn't have been surprised with my father's response, given his preference for 'meat-and-potatoes' rock and roll i.e. Eagles, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger.

But I quite liked this introduction to Bowie, along with the follow up singles and videos for "Modern Love" and "China Girl".

I would later learn that this musician not only had a prolific discography, but he would be cited as a major influence for dozens of new wave groups, many I went on to love. 

IMHO, Bowie's greatest legacy isn't the quality and quantity of music he created, but rather how he made it cool (and acceptable) to be different. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

100/100 Video - "My Girl" - Chilliwack (1981)


One Sunday morning, fall 1981. 

I would have sat directly in front of the living room TV and watched Switchback, a new variety program for kids and teens featuring celebrity interviews, cartoons, comedy and puppets. I was 12.

Hosted by Stan the Man on CBC, he would also introduce two or three music videos during the hour-long show. 

"My Girl" by Chilliwack, a veteran group from Vancouver, British Columbia, played on the TV.

And it was awesome! 

This music video may not be among the most creative of its time, but it was my first, thus automatically claiming a spot in the top 100 purely for nostalgia. 

There is one particular iconic scene that is forever etched in my mind. It's when the three band members snap their fingers over a burning garbage barrel, while the lead singer chants: "Gone, gone, gone, she been gone so long, She been gone, gone, gone so long.

Well, the girl in the video was indeed gone. Gone far away from the vocalist who was longing for her. Gone via limousine. Then gone by a charter airplane, likely headed towards the brighter lights of Toronto.

As for the song itself, the vocal harmonies are outstanding. "My Girl" peaked at #3 in Canada. 

What was the first music video you remember watching?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Last minute pivot: favourite 100 music videos

I was inspired to inventory my favourite 100 music videos for two main reasons: 

1) the epic nostalgia experienced while currently binging on The Goldbergs (Thanks to Patrick Carr for the heads-up), and 2) Lee Turner's and Richard Cross' top 10 music videos shared on Facebook this past fall.   

Growing up in the suburbs of Nova Scotia, I was a hopeless music video junkie. Starting in junior high during the early 80s, we watched Switchback with Stan the Man and that cool ASN program on Saturday nights, Atlantic Canada's Choice. On high school weekdays before supper we turned on CBC's Video Hits with Samantha Taylor, and on weekends, Good Rockin' Tonight hosted by Terry David Mulligan and eventually Stu Jeffries. For the night owl, the U.S.-based Friday Night Videos kept us entertained. 

The best part was also the worst: having to wait then hope your favourite song made the cut. Yet all those countless hours binging on video shows as a teen has prepared me for this moment. Now I am ready for a deep dive into the vast reservoir of memorable videos, many forever etched in my psyche.

This exercise will not only feature the usual suspects that you can easily find on a Rolling Stone webpage; I plan to sprinkle in a few cult faves, forgotten classics and hidden gems, too! 

The selection process will be happening over the next couple of weeks, as I watch, mull and organize over 200+ videos into a top 100 format. 

The assembly is a consolidation of many methods:

  • Memory recall
  • Online and magazine lists
  • You Tube rabbit holes
  • Previous lists including my own charts from the 80s
  • My CD + MP3 collections
  • Researching new bands 

Once satisfied with my rankings, I will aim to post one daily, starting with #100. Each post will feature a YouTube link, along with some commentary explaining why it deserves to make the cut. 

Although the 80s may have been the halcyon days of music videos, let's not forget about the passion and the polish from some of those shot during the 90s and 00s. Even a few more recent videos will also make the cut. 

Hope you enjoy the ride!

Monday, December 7, 2020

The sorting is underway...

Over the last few weeks I've been slowly pulling together a list from over 250 tracks for this winter's countdown.

The theme will be my favourite 100 electronic tracks of all time. An equally fun yet even more daunting process than coming up with 100 fave 80s tunes from 2 years ago. My ears and headphones are sure having a blast with this exercise.

It's always a shame that some awesome, dope tunes will miss the cut! As with my previous 'top 100' tune exercises, I struggle with deciding the last two or three songs. Inevitably, I start an endless cycle of switch and replace, to only switch back to my original pick!

But at some point, this madness will need to stop. Hopefully sometime around mid-December I will pull the plug and start the countdown.