Prancing in the Streets

Music Videos

OK. Something has been on our minds. We recently discussed the demise of music videos on MTV. That was the end of an important era for us since we grew up watching  the artists perform while we listened to their music. That let us put faces and themes to songs we already knew, and led to the discovery of new ones. It was usually very entertaining and even a mediocre song was made better by a good video. Sometimes the music videos were iconic simply because of the visual elements regardless of the song to which they were attached.

Over the years, some videos stood out above the rest. You already know how we feel about Talking Heads. “Once in a Lifetime” is on that line between quirky in a fascinating sort of way and bizarre in a trying-too-hard-to-be-avant-garde kind of way. We think it tips just enough to the former to be interesting (a killer song didn’t hurt either). Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Don’t Come Around Here No More” was wonderfully weird (the big hat, the black and white checkers, the cutting of the cake!), a-Ha’s “Take Me On” (using a pencil and paper rotoscoping approach to the animation combined with live action was sheer genius), Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” (how many hundreds of hours did it take to do the stop-motion!), Jamiroquai’s ‘Virtual Insanity” (just coooool), Beyoncé’s, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” (B/W simplicity with three pretty ladies in leotards and funky choreography will forever pin a memory into one’s brain – see what happens when 10 years from now someone says to you “Hey, do you remember that video by Beyonce?”), Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice (simple videos are dangerous, but when they’re done right they’re killer – again, reference “Put a Ring On It;” plus Christopher Walken can dance?! and he’s really good?!), Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (the video is so real and the pain is so incredibly palpable, it actually gets us misty-eyed), Fedde Le Grand’s “Put Your Hands Up for Detroit” (sexy and funny), Prince’s “Kiss” (sexy and funny), Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (not our cup of tea but a very ambitious project and clearly a lot of work), Korn’s “Freak on a Leash (slow-mo things exploding – there is just no end to that kind of fun), Outkast’s “Hey Ya” (goofy and funky), and … oh goodness how could go on.

So, for all the good ones, there are also bad ones. But one relatively terrible video stands out above the rest. As we said, it’s risky to go simple. One could bore or confuse one’s audience. But in this video the simplicity angers us. Why? Because it is one of the most mediocre slapdash pieces of crap to hit the airwaves. And what is even more unforgivable is that it is simply lazy all around. When Mick Jagger and David Bowie (hey, what do you know? here’s another post knocking ol’ SnaggleTooth around – just wait until you read what we have to say in our review of “Drummer Boy”) teamed up for a little cross-over thing, they didn’t even bother creating a song together. They did a cover. In fact, they did a cover of a song that doesn’t in any way fit their musical styles or artistic images. They took Martha and the Vandella’s “Dancing in the Streets” and made no effort to put a particularly unique spin on it. Then they capped the travesty by putting together one of the most mindbogglingly worthless pieces of garbage that ever hit music television. It’s not just bad, it’s just flat out pathetic. There is no chemistry between Jagger and Bowie (logical really – how could two Grade A Prime Time Bitch Divas share the same stage). The set is devoid of anything interesting, clearly no choreography was planned as shown by the lack of dancers (and people in general) — this is a party song so where’s the party you useless hacks?! What little movement occurs is awkward as if the video was shot as an afterthought and no stage preparations were made … we could go on but we’re getting more angry as we write this post. It would have been sad, actually, if it had been made by a struggling artist that just didn’t have the sense to know his/her project was terrible (reference Jan Terri, and Armi and Danni). But the video isn’t by a couple of kids with a video camera, it’s by two established veteran artists (we’re being generous) and a director with plenty of professional experience under his belt. These boys know better and bad on them for trying to pull the wool over our eyes. The fact that this was put together as a Live Aid project is even more mind-boggling. Really? Charity is actually so unimportant that it doesn’t even merit a 10th of the effort you put into a commercial project? You’re already rich, so do it for the artistry and the humanity!

Music Video for Dancing in the Streets

There have been many other terrible music videos and even though we aren’t fans of Bowie or Jagger, a good video and an original song would have at least gotten our respect. The bottom line is that it is pure, unadulterated shit. We’re dismayed to think what the money from this abomination could have been used for instead or that a real effort might have had a much bigger impact on the charitable income it could have garnered. Mick and David, playing this tripe at Live Aid probably cost the charity a ton of money because people most assuredly turned off their TVs. At a minimum, you should apologize and take any proceeds from this abortion of a project and give it to a worthy charitable cause. Shame on you.

A lot of our criticism on this site is tongue-in-cheek but occasionally we really get rankled. This is one of those times. The entire project was half-assed, as if two “stars” could produce any old schlock and still sell it. As consumers, that’s insulting, frankly. Quality matters, even in pop music. Bah! Now we’ve gone and gotten all upset and such things!

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