Videos I’ve Loved Before

I didn’t notice until today, but last week Alfred Soto posted a list of his favorite music videos ever, after participating in an I Love Music poll calculating the top picks of lots of other folks. Realized I’ve never put together such a list, and I’m not sure how feasible it would be — my lifetime music-video recall, like many other recalls of my lifetime, just isn’t that great. I can’t imagine purposefully catching up with them, either; seems like they should knock you out by accident.

Also, I’ve only ever seen music videos haphazardly, having never been a consistent cable subscriber even in bygone days when MTV and VH-1 were the main venues people viewed such creations. Now that as far as I can tell they’re mainly spread via social media, the game’s got to be more luck-of-the-draw random than ever — and still, where music is concerned, I’m way more likely to listen to youtube than watch it. (Contrariwise, for whatever it’s worth, I always watch tai chi demonstration videos with the sound turned down.)

I can’t even remember when we did subscribe to cable, though late ’80s to mid ’90s sounds more or less right — and during the latter, the odds were probably better that I’d catch something I liked on CMT or Univision or Fonovisa or the (possibly UHF rather than cable? — okay, Wikipedia says both) Box Network than on the major-league channels. In the 21st Century, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve spent more time watching new videos in hotel rooms than anywhere else. Even when friends post links (heck, even when I post them myself!) I don’t click on them as often as good friendship manners might dictate.

Nonetheless, over the years, I have managed to vote for favorite videos occasionally in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop music critics poll. But at first I didn’t. Poobah Robert Christgau initiated the category in 1983, my third year voting, when I was a 23-year-old U.S. Army Signal Corps lieutenant based in West Germany, and I abstained: “When I write that, more or less out of principle, I’m not going to vote for videos, I feel a tinge of fear that some analogy is going to be drawn between me and apparent old farts like Noel Coppage and Blair Jackson, both of whom were too elitist to vote for singles when that ballot was initiated in 1979, and at least one of whom was still too elitist a year ago. Please don’t construe my reluctance to vote that way — I don’t believe that ‘the artform sucks’, or anything like that. I’m not voting for two reasons: First, I made no attempt this year to view videos with any regularity, and no doubt there are lots worthwhile ones (even most of the worthwhile ones) that I missed. Second, and more important, even if I had seen all the videos I would have liked to have seen, I wouldn’t consider myself any kind of qualified judge of their worth: They simply aren’t my area of expertise; for example, I don’t have any kind of background in film techniques or anything like that. I never even saw Star Wars.” Such integrity! Such humility!

I went on (and on): “But whether I saw a lot of videos or not, they still will probably be a (if not the) major theme in Christgau’s year-end ‘essay,’ and rightly so — in a sense, financially at least, videos revolutionized The Industry this year. Some critics will probably suggest that they represented an artistic revolution as well. (Rolling Stone called this ‘the most significant year in rock since 1977,’ or some such bullshit), and that’s what bothers me: For one thing, I listen to music while I’m reading or writing or washing the dishes [EDDYTOR’s NOTE: 39 years later, I still do this!!], and I can’t do that with videos. But that’s my problem; more important, since when are rock’n’roll’s artistic revolutions visual rather than aural? Yeah, sure, always — Little Richard and Sly Stone and David Johansen and Johnny Rotten all attracted attention with their clothes and hair as well as their sounds. But all of these artists used outward appearance to supplement or even ‘sell’ what was in fact revolutionary music, and I don’t see anybody using videos that way. It may not be possible. There just may not be any room for revolutionary music anymore, and maybe that’s why so many musicians are trying their hand at a new artform.” Who says young men can’t yell at clouds, too?

In subsequent years, several of them anyway, I frequently overcame my misgivings and cast votes for treasured music videos regardless. Sometimes I typed up a list even when videos weren’t technically being polled — As far as I can tell, P&J permanently abandoned the category in 1996, after putting it on temporary hold in 1988 and 1989. Below are the year-end lists I’ve been able to excavate, frequently along with lengthy lists of also-rans. (I’d forgotten that record labels sometimes even used to promote video singles off Best Of albums.) If others turn up, I’ll add them. Meanwhile, feel free to try to figure out which clip below features a cameo by a future fascist president.

1985

  1. Fat Boys “Hardcore Reggae
  2. David Lee Roth “Just a Gigolo”/”I Ain’t Got Nobody
  3. Kurtis Blow “America
  4. Fishbone “? (Modern Industry)
  5. Ricky Skaggs “Country Boy

1986

  1. Genesis “Land of Confusion
  2. Wally Badarou “Chief Inspector
  3. Sly Fox “Let’s Go All the Way
  4. David Lee Roth “Yankee Rose
  5. Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew “Superbowl Shuffle

Honorable Mentions: Peter Gabriel – “Sledgehammer“; Posch Family “Rock & Roll Pet Store“; Art of Noise “Legs“; Grace Jones “Love is the Drug“; Rush “Mystic Rhythms“; LL. Cool J “I Need Love“; Public Image Ltd. “Rise“; Laurie Anderson “Language is a Virus“; Twisted Sister “Leader of the Pack“; Fat Boys “All You Can Eat“; The Fall “Cruisers Creek“; Boys Don’t Cry “I Wanna Be a Cowboy“; ZZ Top “Velcro Fly“; Steppenwolf “Born to Be Wild” (Taco Bell commercial).

1987

  1. Warren Zevon “Leave My Monkey Alone
  2. John Cougar Mellencamp “Paper in Fire
  3. Debbie Gibson “Shake Your Love
  4. The Cars “You Are the Girl
  5. Fat Boys and Beach Boys “Wipeout

Honorable Mentions: M/A/R/S/S “Pump Up the Volume“; Was (Not Was) “Hello Dad I’m in Jail“; John Cougar Mellencamp “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus“; Pet Shop Boys “It’s a Sin“; Tesla “Little Suzi“; L.L. Cool J “Going Back to Cali“; Squeeze “Hourglass“; Poison “I Won’t Forget You“; Moody Blues “In Your Wildest Dreams“; Bon Jovi “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

1990

  1. The Boys “Crazy
  2. Michelle Shocked “The Greener Side”
  3. Young and Restless “‘B’ Girls
  4. Janet Jackson with Heavy D (and Cab Calloway) “Alright
  5. Kim Mitchell “I’m a Wild Party

Stipulated “at least until I stopped getting MTV.” Honorable mentions: Disco Tex & the Sex-O-Lettes’ “Get Dancin’” in the Thanksgiving episode of The Simpsons; the movie Gremlins 2; “anything from Germany, France, Italy, or Japan on Earth To MTV“; and R.E.M’s “Stand” as used at the beginning of the TV show Get A Life.

1991

  1. D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince “Summertime
  2. Precious Metal “Mr. Big Stuff
  3. Milli Vanilli Carefree Sugarless Gum commercial
  4. Kix “Girl Money
  5. Michael Jackson “Black or White (unabridged version)”

1992

  1. Sir Mix-a-Lot “Baby Got Back
  2. Calo “Ponte Atento
  3. Celine Dion “Love Can Move Mountains
  4. Neal McCoy “Where Forever Begins
  5. Sawyer Brown “Some Girls Do

1993

  1. Gloria Trevi “Con Los Ojos Cerrados
  2. Aerosmith “Livin’ on the Edge
  3. Aerosmith “Cryin’
  4. Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang
  5. Blind Melon “No Rain

1995

  1. Chico Science & Nação Zumbi “A Cidade
  2. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs “Mal Bicho
  3. Fey “Media Naranja
  4. Mariah Carey feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard “Fantasy
  5. Mary Chapin-Carpenter “House of Cards

1997

  1. Aqua “Barbie Girl
  2. Daft Punk “Around the World
  3. B-Rock and the Bizz “MyBabyDaddy
  4. Freak Nasty “Da’ Dip
  5. Peggy Scott Adams “Bill

Honorable Mentions: Trio – “Da Da Da” (Volkswagon commercial); Reel Big Fish – “Sell Out“; Chumbawamba – “Tubthumping“; Schleprock – “Suburbia“; Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – “Zoot Suit Riot“; OMC – “How Bizarre“; Erykah Badu – “Next Lifetime“; the Pond one where girl with Sean Cassidy posters grows up then ODs in hallway.

2 comments

  1. via facebook:

    Alfred Soto
    I hadn’t seen some of these.

    Chuck Eddy
    Likewise!

    Michaelangelo Matos
    with links, no less!

    Chuck Eddy
    So user-friendly!

    Patrick Hould
    I like those, as well as Alfred‘s list. Anyone know of other best-video lists that aren’t just the same obvious/overplayed “Sledgehammer”/“Take on Me”/“Thriller” stuff? Those are all great, but there’s gotta be something else out there.
    (music videos are one area where I’m, well, slightly less embarrassed than usual about what a rockist I am – I do love me a good arty college-rock vid, or a low-budget early new wave clip – I have no doubt that there’s a lot of so-mainstream-they’re-ob… See more

    Alfred Soto
    I was embarrassed to include “Take on Me” but I happene to love it.

    Patrick Hould
    No shame in that, it really is a great video! Plus “Coffee and TV” and “Shock the Monkey” are my jams. And if “Perfect Kiss” is the one where people slap each other in the face, I love that one too.

    Alfred Soto
    “True Faith.” “Perfect Kiss” is the Demme-directed performance video.

    Chuck Eddy
    Patrick, you know the video poll winners (top 10s each year I think) are posted with P&J results on Xgau’s site, right? Obviously plenty of warhorses we’re long bored with are on those lists, but other stuff is too. (I forget if Xgau’s own video votes are on his site; some of those were fun as well.)

    Patrick Hould
    Yup! P&J results are pretty much what I’d expect, with a few nice left-field choices (Les Rita Mitsouko’s “C’est comme ça”!!). Xgau’s votes are more interesting, and there’s a few things there I’ll check out. But the category was discontinued 25+ years ago.

    Like

  2. via facebook:

    Patrick Hould
    Sweet! I had no idea there was a video for “MyBabyDaddy”

    Patrick Hould
    Kim Mitchell!! 😆😆 I haven’t seen that particular one, but his videos were frequently a hoot. It’s funny that he started out as something of a glamster (with Max Webster, who I really should check out one of these days).

    Chuck Eddy
    As much a progster as a glamster — But a GOOFY progster (the best kind!)

    Patrick Hould
    Chuck again, your knowledge and appreciation of 70s Canadian butt-rock is beyond reproach. I don’t know how far you’ve ventured to the French (bilingual, actually) side of things, but I’d recommend Offenbach – stentorian, organ-heavy, on some weird spectrum between blues-rock and prog, with more memorable tunes than the description would imply. They eventually did the whole Jefferson Starship/Yes “bring in some younger guys for an arena-rock makeover” and pulled it off quite well, at least for a while. Also, try Michel Pagliaro, who would go back and forth between proto-powerpop (“Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy” is a great one) and Foghat-like boogie (“J’entends frapper”).

    Boris Palameta
    Pag is the shit

    Hardin Smith
    Back in my days as an MtV addict (I had an apartment with no furniture, but goddammit, I had me some MtV), I used to perk up whenever Paper In Fire came on. Mellencamp fan? Not particularly. The appeal could be explained in two words: Lisa Germano. She was very, um, comely in that vid…

    Patrick Hould
    I saw the Moody Blues’ “Your Wildest Dreams” again recently and what felt vaguely freaky about it is how the mid-60s scenes in it felt like several lifetimes ago even back in 1987, whereas today you can watch a show like PEN15 that’s set in 2000 or so and it barely registers as being from the past at all, let alone 20+ years back in time. Wonder if someone old enough to remember the mid-60s would feel differently about “Your Wildest Dreams”? Or for that matter whether PEN15 would feel positively jurassic to someone born around the turn of the century?

    Like

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