Music Videos in the Eighties

There is an evolution to music videos. In the beginning, no one knew what the fuck they were doing, and it was great. Here are some of my favorite music videos from the eighties.

“Young Turks” by Rod Stewart

Okay, so, obviously music videos as we know them started in the eighties. Prior to MTV they were just, like, the band on stage or something playing the song (See every ABBA video on the internet). Then there was a whole channel for these things and suddenly everybody had to get creative, but no one knew what the fuck to even do. Mostly, it seemed like there were three options:

  1. Here’s the artist performing the song, only instead of on stage, they are Somewhere Else
  2. Here’s the plot of the song, turned into a little movie
  3. Here’s some pretty people dancing.

And then you have “Young Turks,” where the creators decided that choices are for chumps and they could HAVE IT ALL. It starts with Billy and Patty leaving home to start their new life in LA while Rod Stewart sings the plot to them like some tiny Greek Choir, and then right around the 45 second mark one of those roving gangs of dancers that plagued LA all through the eighties show up and just, like, follow them around and I honestly have no clue what they’re supposed to represent, if anything. Youth? Freedom? Cocaine? Answer: Yes.

“You Might Think” by the Cars

I lied earlier. There was actually a fourth option for music videos in the eighties, and that option was COMPUTERS!! This shit was considered groundbreaking and won awards back in 1984, so remember that the next time you’re watching something with computer effects and think it’s going to last.

“If This Is It” By Huey Lewis and the News

Looking at this video from 2020, it honestly looks like an ad for skin cancer.

Besides that, it chose the ‘little movie’ option, to the point where there’s this entire B plot about a family who doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Huey, his weird ex-girlfriend, or the News trying to find a spot at the beach. Just, like, regular jamokes, trying to put their blanket down, and it takes all day, and then there’s a fucking Land Shark?! Man, fuck the beach.

Also, his weird ex-girlfriend? What the actual fuck are you doing, Susan? Breaking up is hard, and you don’t want to do it. But, like, you keep running into this guy on the beach. All day. Repeatedly. While you’re hanging off some other guy’s arm. Yeah, by the end of the day he should just take the hint, but all of this awkwardness could have been avoided if you just answered the phone that morning and told him it was over. Ho it up, girl, I’m not slut shaming anyone, but don’t be leaving these sadsacks in your wake. Own it when it’s over.

“Raspberry Beret” by Prince.

This music video is a beautiful chaotic mess and I love it. It’s essentially just Prince and the Revolution singing on stage, but they made everything a blue screen and then put all these weird, colorful images in the background and I’m 100% sure they dressed him in a blue suit so everything would bleed and be messy on purpose, and then all of these people look like side characters in an anime series and they’re doing this adorable half assed dance and there’s balloons and flowers and it’s all just incredibly endearing. And, look, I’ve never found Prince attractive. And here, I still don’t. But let me just say: Damn, Wendy Melvoin. How you doin’?

“We Built This City” by Starship

This is the silliest rock anthem ever and it comes paired with this video filled with people who really thought they were making a statement. No one is smiling. Grace Slick looks like she’s going to come out of the television and eat the smallest member of your family. They scream-shout the song at Abe Lincoln’s statue until the power of their rock and roll brings him to life and he, too, scream-shouts about the power of rock and roll. It is WILD, and further proof everybody in show business was so busy doing eight balls they didn’t have enough time to stop and think if maybe a rock and roll anthem shouldn’t be built on some of the poppiest synths of the day.

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