Sunday, January 31, 2021

66/100 Video - "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" - The Smiths (1987)

The video for "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" may only show vocalist Morrissey, but much of the magic in the song is crafted by guitar wizard Johnny Marr. 

From start to finish, the guitars shimmer on arguably the most gorgeously polished production of their five-year career. The Smiths broke up just weeks before the single had been released. The Smiths legacy was quality over quantity (72 songs over 6 years), as well as being the indie UK rock band of the 80s, soon to influence a brand new British invasion to come in the 90s.

Back to the single, a song about lies, obsession, drinking, fisticuffs and a bicycle accident: leave it to Moz to come up a creative way to describe a crossbar hitting his junk as "The pain was enough to make a shy, bald buddhist reflect and plan a mass-murder." Incidently, the song was banned from daytime airplay on the BBC due to a recent massacre.

The unique video features Morrissey and a gang of bespectacled clones wearing Smiths shirts riding bicycles around Manchester on Coronation Street and past iconic venues like the Salford Boys Club and the Strangeways prison. In fact, the 'cycle with Morrissey' theme resulted from a call out to fans. Read the cool story from a New Zealand participant here.

Currently unchecked on my bucket list, one of these years I hope to make a pilgrimage to Manchester to visit these and other iconic landmarks that part of the history of some of my favourite bands like New Order, Joy Division, The Smiths and others.

The carefree cycling reminds me of my own childhood biking adventures on my trusty 10-speed, riding helmet-free from the trailer court in Dartmouth across town, over the bridge and throughout Halifax, unbeknownst to my parents. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

67/100 Video - "Why Can't I Be You?" - The Cure (1987)

"Why Can't I Be You?" by The Cure is one of the band's coolest videos.

With Robert leading the charge, the band members gyrate to the music like they are filming a workout video. 

The numerous costume changes, which include Robert Smith in a furry bear suit, show us how much the band enjoyed filming it.

I always cringe when I hear non-fans call The Cure a "Goth" band. 

The Cure has a song for every mood. 

And "Why Can't I Be You?" is pure happiness and joy. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

68/100 Video - "Venus" - Bananarama (1986)

A long, long time ago, more than a decade before The Spice Girls, there was Bananarama.

"Venus" by Bananarama was immediately catchy, easily among the best cover songs of the decade.

Released when I was seventeen years old, I tuned in primarily to see the three girls dance and flail about.

There appeared to be choreography for the dance moves, but the girls preferred tomfoolery.

Siobhan, the shorter blonde, was always my favourite.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

69/100 Video - "Helena Beats" - Foster the People (2011)


"Helena Beats" by Foster the People is my top pick in the category of post-apocalypse videos. 

Our musical hero plays a sort of Mad Max character while the gang of kids he encounters are straight out of Lord of the Flies.

You'll either find the video kind of creepy or super cool. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

70/100 Video - "Sour Girl" - Stone Temple Pilots (1999)

There's lots to unpack here.

Giant evil Teletubbies. A gyrating Scott Weiland. 

And a dark Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was a huge fan of the band. At the time, Gellar was a rising star with her TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and movies.

The clip features little people in costumes that look like the Teletubbies, which were big at the time. Scott claimed this was just a coincidence, and that the creatures are based on a dream he had.

Apparently the teletubby thingies represent an unhealthy addiction that doesn't seem as bad as it is.

Storax Sedan (YouTube comments) offers these great insights below which seem to be spot on:

The lighting is bright and warm which signifies the band members thinking they're happy. But when the lighting gets cold and dark, Sara shows Scott that those teletubby things are truly vile, evil, that they're not a true path to happiness and that he doesn't need them anymore. Then after, when the lighting goes back to the bright and warm, Scott is shown with Sarah dancing showing that he is truly happy with her and doesn't need the teletubbies to be happy, until she leaves him. Then the lighting goes back to the cold and dark and he relapses and caves back into his addiction as he walks away with the teletubbies hands in his.

71/100 Video - "Would I Lie to You?" - Eurythmics (1985)


The Eurythmics had already produced a number of synth-pop records and hit singles before the release of their 4th album Be Yourself Tonight.

The album also showcased the amazing range of vocalist Annie Lennox, like in the angelic "There Must Be An Angel" and the soulful "It's Alright". 

The first single (and video) "Would I Lie to You?" was a veritable head-turner: the track features a large horn section and Motown backup singers. 

But most of all, the single illustrated the queen of new wave could also rock. Feisty, even. And if you watch the clip, you'll see she's a pretty good actress, too.

In the video, Lennox sings from the perspective of an angry girlfriend who walks out on her cheating lover. 

However her anger was not directed at Stewart, although they were a romantic couple before forming Eurythmics, but inspired by the breakup of her first marriage, to a Hare Krishna named Radha Raman.

At the beginning of the clip before the band hit the stage, I love how David offers Annie a piece of advice that was the title of their current album: "Be Yourself Tonight."

You may have most recently heard "Would I Lie to You?" on TV, as it's the theme song for Border Security: Canada's Front Line. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

72/100 Video - "Running Up That Hill" - Kate Bush (1985)

"Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush was one song I missed during my top 100 fave 1980 songs countdown from two years ago.

In fact, I should have switched "Cloudbusting" to the videos list, rather than including it in the songs. Okay, I'm done with the crying.

"Running Up That Hill", my introduction to Kate Bush in 1985, gave us a memorable and epic video in itself. 

Kate wanted the video to be more of a classical performance, compared to in her mind, the more trivial videos of the era.

She certainly delivered the goods.

The choreography of the video's interpretive dance is outstanding between Kate and dancer Michael Hervieu

The haunting synth and the hypnotic drum beat go along perfectly with the moving visuals. The beat also makes this a great running track.

There are a couple of bizarre scenes near the end when Kate and Michael's intimate dance is interrupted by the masked extras in the tunnel, but they do fit in with the lyrics. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

73/100 Video - "A Criminal Mind" - Gowan (1985)

The debut single Canada's Gowan certainly grabbed my attention when I first watched it on Video Hits

Set in the fictional School of Reform for Budding Arch Criminals, the video is part animated comic strip and part dark musical. 

While the song was a slow burner for me, the video was bold and mind-blowing. The imagery paces well with the piano bits and other instrumentation. 

For the next few years, the vivid imagination of Gowan never failed to take us on a cool trip, with amazing singles such as "Strange Animal;", "Cosmetics" and Moonlight Desires".

Saturday, January 23, 2021

74/100 Video - "Summer of '69" - Bryan Adams (1985)

Yeah, this one is overplayed a tad. But for us Gen-X-ers who grew up with it, when we replace '69 with '89, it now hits us a little deeper.

One of the ultimate nostalgia anthems, "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams is a tune I've grown to appreciate more as time passes. 

I wasn't much into wistful reflection as a 16 year-old, preferring more adventurous tunes about ruling the world, or dancing into the fire than a generic tune about bygone summer days at a drive-in I'd never seen.

The song is just a straight ahead rock and roller peppered with clichés about "summer's that last forever", back when we were "young and restless" during the "best days of our lives". 

But those are also the same reasons why we love it. 

Iconic tunes bring us all together at a party or on a road trip and a few are essential for any top 100 list.

Friday, January 22, 2021

75/100 Video - "Sandstorm" - Darude (2000)

The video starts off harmlessly enough. 

During the brief intro, DJ Darude is peacefully enjoying a sunny day on the steps of an historic building in Helsinki, chillin' with headphones.

Then as the techno kicks in, a woman carrying a briefcase blows by the DJ down the steps, followed closely by two security guards, a man and a woman.

The rest of the video is dedicated to one helluva epic chase! 

There is a plot twist at the end, but I won't spoil it for you.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

76/100 Video - "Living on Video" - Trans-X (1983)

In the early 80s, "Living on Video" by Montreal's Trans-X had all the fixings for a teenage boy.

Video games. Check.
Synth laser beams. Check.
Robots. Check.
Thrashing Keytar. Check.
Cute girl dancing. Check.
A French girl. Bonus Check.

"Living on Video" not only sounded like the future; the lyrics about surveillance predicted the future. 

The clip sounds and looks like some sort of backstreet video game arcade. Bring your quarters.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

77/100 Video - "L'Affaire Dumoutier (Say To Me)" – The Box (1985)

I've always enjoyed the mini-movie video of a criminal investigation and trial in rural Quebec accompanying the descriptive narration-style vocals for "L' Affaire Dumoutier (Say To Me)" by The Box.

The scene forever burned in my brain: the man walking down a country road while balancing on the white line in an apparent state of amnesia while the lyric "Walking, walking... on the tightrope of insanity walking, walking on the verge of loosing mind".

The video doubled as an after-school lesson in Québecois French with dialogue scattered throughout the clip. I even learned a few new phrases including non-culpable (not guilty).

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

78/100 Video - "Out of Touch" - Hall & Oates (1985)


There are times when all you need is a little comfort food to make you smile. 

Hall & Oates always delivered the goods, one of those quality artists that appealed to almost everyone at some point along the way. 

"Out of Touch" is irresistible with soulful verses, a spectacular chorus and a timeless melody.

The cheesy video showcases the big, bam, boom 80s production, as established artists during the mid-80s had enormous budgets for their videos.

The video was directed by Jeff Stein, who also did the surreal videos for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Don't Come Around Here No More" and The Cars' "You Might Think." 

The imagery fit well with the song's meaning, best illustrated when we see the giant drum roll over Hall and Oates, then later on when we see them trapped inside it, a metaphor for the feeling of isolation expressed in the lyrics.

It's obvious the boys had a blast making this video. Some of the best "white guy" moves ever made appear from 1:27 to 1:30, as Darryl and John shuttle off in opposite directions. 

In fact, I'll make the argument that "Out of Touch" is John Oates's shining moment; his backup singing and dance moves 
come to the forefront, including a cart wheel!

Monday, January 18, 2021

79/100 Video - "This Momentary" - Delphic (2009)

Delphic hails from the Manchester area, one of a laundry list of groups influenced by new wave in general, and New Order specifically.

The video for "This Momentary" by Delphic was shot using RED cameras giving the clip a cinematic look and feel. 

Rather than focus on the past, the clips shows actual people still living in and around Chernobyl. It's very moving. 

Director Dave Ma said "The aim for this video was to focus on the people still living in and around the Chernobyl area...It was about showing the humanity of the people and about capturing little moments in their lives in a composed and photographic way."

The music video was nominated for three UK Music Video Awards, including Best Cinematography and Best Editing for its shots in Chernobyl.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

80/100 Video - "Smooth Operator" - Sade (1984)


Speaking of James Bond theme songs, here's a track that could have easily been one.

I'd always wondered why Sade seemed so fond of western Maine. The region wasn't apparent in the suave video.

The answer: she wasn't. 

I had misheard the lyrics to Sade's "Smooth Operator", oh for the last thirty-some years. 

FYI, the lyric in question: "Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male".

So I'll also ignore the fact that Chicago is not located on the coast.

Nitpicking aside, the video for "Smooth Operator" oozed sophistication to my then 15-year old ears and eyes, presenting a cosmopolitan alternative to the never-ending gyrations of the Madonna and Cyndi Lauper at the time. 

Plus it had a great sax riff. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

81/100 Video - "La Isla Bonita" - Madonna (1987)


The song is pure escapism. 

The video is about her dress.

Madonna does the flamenco and longs for the island breezes of San Pedro in this tasty and timeless slice of Latin and pop fusion

That smooth Spanish guitar never fails to deliver an 'isla bonita': a day dream to a tropical utopia for an 18-year-old living in the suburbs who'd traveled as far as P.E.I.  

Friday, January 15, 2021

82/100 Video - "Galvanize" - The Chemical Brothers (1997)


The video for "Galvanize" by The Chemical Brothers takes us back to our teen years.

The comical chase reminds me of The Warriors film where gang members run throughout the night, escaping rival gangs. This is the young teen version.

The second half reminds us of sneaking into bars underage. 

In this case, the two boys are not just passive attendees, they end up participating in some sort of a breakdance battle. An epic video.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

83/100 Video - "The New Pollution" - Beck (1996)

As a rock star, Beck is predictably unpredictable. 

"The New Pollution" is the epitome of random weirdness, but in a good way.

In the earlier clips, the dancers display a myriad of American clichés while Beck's dance moves are stiff. 

But by the the end of the video, Beck finds his groove and busts some serious moves including the splits.

About halfway through the clip there is a reference to synth legends Kraftwerk. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

84/100 Video - "The Ghost In You" - The Psychedelic Furs (1984)

Although British band The Psychedelic Furs is best known for the title track on the Pretty In Pink soundtrack, I've always preferred the shimmering synths and the sheer beauty of the pseudo ballad "The Ghost In You".

This song and video master the 'sad verse, happy chorus' classic alternative formula.

I love the sharp colour contrasts in the video between the more subtle verses and the slightly happier chorus. 

During each verse, the black and white clips show a reflective Richard Butler singing in front of his backstage mirror.

The melancholy is offset in each joyous chorus as the frame changes to an altered reality, as vibrant colourful bubbles move about the screen.

You may recall the track was featured in the romantic comedy 50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

The chorus's cerebral lyrics "Inside you the time moves and she don't fade, the ghost in you, she don't fade" reduce the sappiness of what ultimately is an old school new wave love song...and what a lovely song it is. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

85/100 Video - "Planet Claire" – The B52s (1979)

From the opening alien synth notes of "Planet Claire", 
The B52s remind us on this early single that they are gifts from another galaxy. 

What's extraordinary about this song is that it takes almost two minutes until the first vocals appear: that is unless you count Kate Pierson's lip sync of the intro synth line.

Meanwhile, vocalist Fred Schneider plays a mean cowb...I mean walkie-talkie?!

The eccentric gals and guys of this unique band have always taken fun seriously with silly lyrics, antics and outfits.

It still blows my that two important alternative artists emerged from the college town of Athens, Georgia (population: approx. 125,000).

Monday, January 11, 2021

86/100 Video - "Separate Ways" - Journey (1983)

Tightly surrounding vocalist Steve Perry in a display of unity, "Separate Ways" was one of the first videos to show the "air band" technique.

Journey also hated making videos, which may explain why this one feels it cost under $20 to shoot. 

Shot on a wharf in New Orleans, the video features the band members in your face with awkwardly close close-up shots. 

"Separate Ways" by Journey is one intense tune. It was written during a turbulent time for the band as two members were going through divorces during the middle of a tour.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

87/100 Video - "A View to a Kill" - Duran Duran (1985)

A band known for its hooks and looks, "A View to a Kill" by Duran Duran was just another grand video to add to its growing repertoire

Recorded as the theme for the James Bond film of the same name, the clip is stylish and slick, featuring the boys playing roles as spies and assassins while lurking around the Eiffel Tour.

I love the low budget 80's cheese of the clip, especially the "flying camera getting shot out of the sky" effect.

And at the end of the video, Le Bon does a parody of James Bond, smarmily introducing himself as "Bon. Simon Le Bon."

According to Wikipedia, Duran Duran was chosen to do the song after bassist John Taylor a lifelong Bond fan, approached producer Albert Broccoli at a party, and somewhat drunkenly asked "When are you going to get someone decent to do one of your theme songs?

"A View to a Kill" was the last song recorded by the original five-member lineup until the band reunited in 2001.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

88/100 Video - "Crystal" – New Order (2001)

New Order had been dormant for almost a decade, its members off doing solo projects since they had split up circa 1993.

"Crystal" was a solid choice for their comeback single, showcasing the band's trademark dance-rock sound.

The concert style video doesn't show the actual band members, but rather a much younger indie group lip-synching to the track. 

Brandon Flowers of The Killers was so enamored with the tune's video that he stole the name painted on the drum kit for his own group.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

89/100 Video - "Buffalo Stance" - Neneh Cherry (1988)

The video for "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry oozes energy and flow, 
colour and motion.

Everyone's a star in this catchy clip with the sick synth hook and fat chorus.

Starting with the foreground, sassy singer Neneh Cherry captures our attention with her cheeky prances and buffalo stances.

In charge of the synths and scratchin', there's Mushroom, who was part of the Wild Bunch DJ collective before joining Massive Attack.

And the two animated back-up female vocalists bob, dart and weave in and off the screen throughout the clip.

Although the song was released in 1988; it oozes an early 90s vibe to the style. 

The 80s are sometimes remembered as being all about image or excess. But here we have Neneh Cherry rhyming about how 'no money man can win her love'. 

The vocal line "Know what I mean" flashing down the screen in four languages is a cute scene. 

I'll always associate this track with clubbing at Secretaries in downtown Halifax. Good times.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

90/100 Video - "Push It" - Garbage (1998)

Few bands epitomize the mid-90s post-grunge sound more than the rock-tronica of Garbage, the brainchild of producer Butch Vig.

On most of the group's songs, the vocals of Scotland's Shirley Manson howl while the guitars growl.

And "Push It" is no exception.

The video is trippy, full of bizarre imagery, with a Matrix-y vibe. 

The weirdness of the clip makes it feel like a distant cousin of 1981's "Whip It" by Devo. And the glowing jackets remind me of Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't It be Good" video from 1984.

And if you were hoping to see the band, there's enough shots of Shirley Manson to keep our attention. 

91/100 Video - "Whip It" - Devo (1981)

Filmed on the set of a ranch, "Whip It" by Devo is among the weirdest videos ever made.

The band members sport sleeveless black turtlenecks, black shorts and black boots, topped off by flowerpot hats.


The weirdness is only beginning. While one woman is seduced by a cowboy, another has her clothes expertly removed by the band's bullwhip-wielding lead singer as he and his colleagues tell their audience to: 

Whip it
Into shape
Shape it up
Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead
Try to detect it
It's not too late
To whip it
Whip it good

And only recently had I learned that the video has political undertones. 

Partially a reaction to President Ronald Reagan's previous career as a Hollywood actor, Devo wanted to create a video that satirized both the cowboy mythos and "right-wing racist values".

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

92/100 Video - "Mama" - Genesis (1983)


If we judge his work solely based on the mid-80s era, it's easy to forget that Phil Collins had a bit of a dark side.

And "Mama" by Genesis may be the trippiest single Phil Collins has ever produced. 

Shot in black and white, the video is on the creepy end of the spectrum. Dark and powerful. But also beautiful and poetic. 

The song's slow menacing buildup is spectacular and Phil's vocals are among his finest.

And Phil is downright terrifying when does his little laugh grunts, as the camera shifts perspective and slides his huge mug closeup, staring, glaring back at us.

The song itself is about a young man obsessed with a prostitute who is not interested in him. Based on a book Phil Collins had read called The Moon's A Balloon, by David Niven, in which a young man falls in love with an older prostitute who does not return his affections.

Monday, January 4, 2021

93/100 Video - "Torture" – The Jacksons (1984)

"Torture" by The Jacksons isn't just a music video. It's also a mini horror movie.

It's so bad, it's good.

Musically, the brothers remind us that there was a lot of talent in the family tree to go around.

But all the brothers didn't make it into the video. MJ had other commitments and Jermaine refused.

Although MJ sings a verse, he doesn't appear in the clip. Edit: there's a wax mannequin of him instead.

Now the video itself is a delicious slice of 80s swagger.

The overuse of cheesy special effects and tropes typically reserved for science-fiction and fantasy movies reflects one helluva budget.

The eye in the middle of the hand. The elaborate costumes. The dancing babe. Giant spiders. Demonic symbolism.

For the grand finale, a group of dancing skeletons steal the show. There's even a moonwalking skeleton.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

94/100 Video - "Yellow" – Coldplay (2000)

The original concept for the video "Yellow" by Coldplay was a party involving the entire band, however 
the funeral of the drummer's mother was held on the day of the video shoot. So, instead of all four members appearing, just singer Chris Martin went to the shoot.

There were apparently a ton of extras kicking around, but Chris grabbed the cameraman and said "let’s just walk down the beach".

The video was shot on a windy, drizzly day on an empty beach in Dorset, England, and shows Chris walking along the shoreline singing to the camera. The clip was taken in one continuous shot, and in slow motion.

The final clip ended up becoming a poignant alternative, and somehow even works better than the original plan.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

95/100 Video - "500 Up" – Sloan (1992)

Early Sloan songs from their debut album are often forgotten, sometimes lost with the success of albums that followed.

In "500 Up", the guys sound and look like they're having such a blast, showing us hints of what to come in the years ahead: alternating vocals, amazing harmonies, tight playing. 

A summer tune about baseball, boys and girls, the band shots are complimented by clips of a yellow chick dressed in a track suit riding a pink convertible.     

I love the breezy innocence of the video with its minimal budget, apparently filmed in the backstreets of New York City. At times the facades of several buildings (I swear I see Park Victoria Apartments in there) remind me of their and my old stomping grounds in Halifax.

Friday, January 1, 2021

96/100 Video - "New Year's Day" - U2 (1983)

While in junior high I tuned into ASN's Atlantic Canada's Choice on Saturday evenings lying down two feet away from the TV.

I recall watching the video for "New Year's Day" in a trance, captivated by this new group riding on horses and playing in an open field, in the middle of winter. 

This is the song that introduced Ireland's U2 to most of us in North America. 

The early U2 sound exuded fire and soul: the Edge's signature 'chugga-chugga' guitar and Bono's passionate vocals are alive and well here. 

Bono convinces us when delivering the chilling "I will be with you again" and "I will begin again" lyrics. 

I would find out later that the lyrics were about persecuted leader of the Polish Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa.

After all these years, "New Year's Day" remains an uplifting song, an anthem of freedom and renewal.

That piano riff that weaves in and out is pure magic.

The video was filmed in December 1982 in Sälen, Sweden, also known for its alpine ski resorts.

Happy New Year!