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The Golden Age of Music Videos

August 5, 2010

I grew up in the golden age of music television; you know, when MTV and VH1 played music for more than a couple of hours a day? One thing that I loved, and still have a huge appreciation for, are the videos that had some semblance of a plot and (usually) feature a fairly well-know actor. I spent a large chunk of my childhood watching music videos, and think I’m a better person for it. It makes me feel for kids these days.

The first video that I always think of is for “Into The Great Wide Open” by Tom Petty. Yep, that’s a young Crybaby era Johnny Depp. Does anyone else notice that he doesn’t really look like he’s aged a whole lot? Also, this video is kinda great for playing a game of “Hey, it’s that guy!” How many actors do you recognize, children?

Hey, what about some Keanu (which my mother, for some reason, always pronounced as “Canoe.” She also called Ben Affleck “Ben Aflac.” I’m still not sure if that was intentional. But I digress.)? He was in that nifty video for “Rush, Rush” by Paula Abdul! I didn’t realise there was all of this “acting” before the song actually started until today. I feel cheated.

I always loved the video for “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox. And why shouldn’t I? It’s a two-fer of hot dudes…. Hugh Laurie and John Malkovich. I love the expressions that Annie Lennox uses, especially her crazy eyes. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve stolen some of her facial expressions for my personal every day usage.

I’ll stick with the awesome costuming/love-triangle theme and finish up with the video for “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. Because I love me some Eric Roberts.

There are tons more out there, of course. These are just a few of my personal favorites. I didn’t even get into the videos for movies, or any MJ vids. What are some that y’all can think of?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Lani permalink
    August 5, 2010 2:42 pm

    I too love music videos, though it’s been something I’ve discovered more recently in my life. We never had cable growing up and my parents were very strict about what television my brother and I could watch, so I sadly missed out on a lot of the golden age of music videos.

    That being said, the internet is now here to the rescue! I very much agree that music videos with a story or purpose are my favorites. One I really love for this reason is “16 Military Wives” by The Decemberists

    Absolutely scathing commentary on the state of world (and American) politics at the time (and probably still true now). Oh man. I love it.

  2. Lani permalink
    August 5, 2010 3:00 pm

    Ooh, ooh, and I’m sorry for double commenting, but I can’t believe I forgot Janelle Monae’s “Many Moons” video:

    And “Tightrope” too:

    I love how conceptual her videos are. The style, the costumes, the dancing…and of course she has a gorgeous voice too!

  3. August 5, 2010 3:18 pm

    I love the video for Into the Great Wide Open. Fantastic visuals for a great Petty tune!!! Love Rush Rush too! Some of Reeves’ best acting, oddly enough.

    I love me some “Blame It”. Ron Howard, Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker rolling HARD. Actually, Howard does look pretty bad ass with the facial hair and minus that ridiculous baldy baseball cap. He’s still cute as he was on Happy Days.

  4. evmaroon permalink
    August 5, 2010 3:24 pm

    Maybe it’s me, but everyone looks so young! Course, most of these are from when they were young. Thanks for the trip down musical memory lane, Eieioj!

  5. Le Watcher permalink
    August 5, 2010 3:41 pm

    I remember those times…i especially remember the scene in, into the great wide open, where Tom Petty is hanging out on the escalators!

    I also remember watching fledgling gangstarap like NWA and its spawns like Michel’le..

    Other memorable vids for me:

    November Rain- Guns n Roses
    Hunger Strike- Temple of the Dog
    I Gotta Man- Positive K
    No More Lies- Michel’le
    Humpty Dance- Digital Underground

  6. August 5, 2010 4:30 pm

    Great post! Reading about the Tom Petty clip reminds me that Tom Petty had some really great videos over the years; he was an actual “video artist.” His videos were so good that they routinely won MTV VMAs. A totally different era these days of course.

    One of my favorite videos that had guest stars was Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do Without You.” ( Of course, neither guys were famous when they were in the video, but still! And it was nice to see Janet by smiley and seem to have fun too.

  7. August 5, 2010 5:25 pm

    Omg. Antonio Sabato Jr.!!!

  8. August 5, 2010 5:36 pm

    Outkast – Roses. LOL. I forgot how much I love this song so much.

    This lyric made me cry with laughter the first time I heard it:

    Caroline! See she’s the reason for the word “bitch” (bitch)
    I hope she’s speeding on the way to the club
    Trying to hurry up to get to some
    Baller or singer or somebody like that
    And try to put on her makeup in the mirror
    And crash, crash, crash.. into a ditch! (Just Playing!)

    Andre and I seem to share a similar sense of humor.

    And of course, the “girls” in George Michael’s Freedom video.

    I miss “J-Lo”. I want her to come back!!!

    Cher! Christina Ricci is sooo cute!!!

  9. August 5, 2010 6:17 pm

    Keanu Reeves’s attempt to be James Dean is just as painful now was it was then. Ouch.

    Annie Lennox has always been aces at crazy face. My favorite version of it is her turn in “Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)”:

    Also, if she’s done with Hugh Laurie I will gladly take him off her hands.

  10. August 5, 2010 6:31 pm

    These are all fantastic!

    I wish youngsters today would take a good look at these videos. Every now and then there’ll be a good one (I loved the video for “Fidelity” by Regina Spektor and “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson), but mostly they’re just crap.

  11. August 5, 2010 6:52 pm

    Well, not from the golden age of video, but still quite a document… Elton John realized that by 2001, nobody wanted to actually SEE him in one of his own videos, so he got various people to stand in for him, and in the case of “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore,” that person was Justin Timberlake.

    However, the most important element was the contribution of Paul Reubens, who plays Elton’s no-nonsense manager/assistant, pulling him through the crowds of paparazzi and hoi polloi in a turn as hilarious as any of his work as Pee-Wee Herman.

  12. August 10, 2010 3:48 pm

    @nycpenpusher: I want to add that the video BEFORE that was the same idea with Robert Downey Jr., when no one would hire him ten years ago because they couldn’t afford the insurance. Elton had big enough pocketbooks!

  13. August 10, 2010 7:54 pm

    Ray: I love! that video. It made me squee! inside when it came out, because I love me some RDJ.

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