REVIEWS -- JULY 07, 1999
Second Administration  

Bangles – Manic Monday (1986) 
Bangles - Manic Monday
     (**1/2)  I think I know why Prince gave the Bangles this song… well, there’s the fact that it more or less sucks, but watching this now, I still agree, the lead singer of the Bangles was damn sexy. Someone let me know the second she does one of those Cinemax soft-core porn movies. The "Manic Monday" video, a former VH1 staple, just shows a lot of clips of the band driving around the street, rushing to get where they’re going. This footage is interspersed with shots of individual Bangles frolicking in the park with tambourines. Yeah, that’s the instrument they can all play. –Andrew Hicks 
     (**½)  "Aww, looks like somebody has a case of the Mondays!" If you ever said that to me, I’d give you a proper ass beatin’, and you’d deserve it. I always thought the Bangles were cute, but here they just seem annoying. They look like they ought to be sitting in a coffee shop bitching about how much men suck, not making a video. Something tells me a manic Monday for these girls means there’s a sale at Bloomingworth’s and Macy’s. My god, how hectic. This song was written by Prince, who I’m sure has very manic Mondays himself: first he has to record a 4-cd set that will only be available in a box of Cracker Jacks, then he has to have sex with at least two Bangles in exchange for writing the song, and then he’s got to get a much needed pedicure. Manic, indeed. –James Wallace 
Bangles - Manic Monday

Berlin – Take My Breath Away (1986) 
     (***)  Last week I dragged out "Ghostbusters" as an example of a primitive soundtrack video that just didn’t have the formula down. Sparse production mixed with lame clips of the cast dancing down the streets. Berlin’s "Take My Breath Away" was more of a step in the right direction, featuring everyone’s favorite two-tone hair airline mechanic wandering around an over-breezy airplane yard as Top Gun clips pop up. I have to admit, this is one of my favorite adult-contemporary hits of the mid-80s. I still believe that one day, when the time is right, the mood is right and I think I can score, I’ll put this on the stereo and make out with some girl as feverishly as Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis did in Top Gun. Still, it’s always been disturbing for me to watch the makeout scene in question because my private school Bible teacher looked just like her. –AH 
     (**½)  How in hell are our boys supposed to combat the Soviet threat if Berlin’s singer insists on singing and cavorting on our fighter jets? I think she’s writing a check her body can’t cash, personally. Maybe she’s pissed at Maverick for dumping her for that flight instructor. Oh, if she could only get her hands on that bitch… err, anyway, I used to love this song, honestly. It moved me, in an adult-contemporary kind of way. Of course, I used to consider Top Gun one of the top five movies of all time. How things change. Still, it’s not a bad video, in a typical eighties "singer in a strange locale interspersed with random shots from the movie" fashion. Probably my biggest problem is the hair. She’s got this freaky, French poodle hairstyle, with long, straight blond bangs dyed black at the tips and random places. It’s the chicken and the egg question – did her freaky hairstyle inspire the New Wave Chick from Friday 13th Part V, or vice versa? The world may never know. –JW 

Dire Straits – Walk of Life (1986) 
     (**)  …and if you subscribe to Sports Illustrated during this special offer, we’ll throw in at absolutely no charge, the video for Dire Straits’ "Walk of Life." See the Cowboys cheerleaders from 1986 shake their butts; see pitchers wearing the old, embarrassing, extra-orange Houston Astros uniform catch a line drive to the nuts; see football players run head-first into goal posts. We’ll even throw in Mark Knofler’s read headband, not seen on a human being since this video was made… except for that 900-pound man in Sweatin’ to the Oldies 3 who just couldn’t do the Mashed Potato without thinking of the Ponderosa buffet. Yeah, the boy could play. --AH 

     inspired by the Fine Young Cannibals video "Good Thing" 
     JAMES: These guys have a greatest hits. Something isn’t right about that. 
     ME: Yeah, why would they even think someone would listen to that entire album? Who would want to hear 14 Fine Young Cannibals album tracks? 
     CARRIE: Don’t you think the lead singer looks kind of retarded? 
     ME: Mildly retarded. Like, they’d let him wander the grounds. 
     CARRIE: You can’t watch him dance and then say he’s not retarded. 
     ME: He probably would have to wear a crash helmet whenever they went on a field trip. 

George Harrison – Got My Mind Set on You (1987)  
     (**1/2)  We’ve all wondered what it would have been like if the Beatles had stayed together and John Lennon was still alive. And, come on, we all know they would have been putting out embarrassing songs like this Harrison remake. Just being a Beatle doesn’t make you immune from queer-ass videos – Paul McCartney has spent 17 years trying to forget "Ebony and Ivory." George shouldn’t shoulder too much guilt for this video, though; it still seems kind of fun, and it put him back on the map. (It also inspired the Weird Al parody "This Song’s Just Six Wods Long," but we won’t get into that.) Basically, George sits around his living room, which is automated like one of those air-pressure laser gun games at Six Flags. Some kids were sitting offscreen when this video was filmed, and when they hit the right laser sensors, the grandfather clock would tilt forward, the bird would jump in his cage and the squirrel would play his pipe like a saxophone. When they were real crack shots, they hit the sensor that knocked George out of his seat, where he did his happy backflip dance. That sequence, by the way, doesn’t even try to conceal the fact that it uses a Stunt George – I mean, the guy has a perm, for God’s sake. Effort. These things require effort. –AH  
     (**)  It’s true, dignity is a luxury when you’re in bankruptcy court. At least, that’s what I’m gathering after seeing what a true work of self-prostitution this video is. George sits in a rocking chair, looking like he was just pulled out of a Dumpster, playing guitar and singing along with the objects in the room, which move and talk like a cross between the characters in Beauty and the Beast and Sam Rami’s Evil Dead series. That’s about it. It’s too bad, because I actually like the song. The problem is, neither the video nor the song seem to have George’s mark at all. Even his classic guitar style is drowned out by studio accompaniment. Also, there’s this dance sequence that’s so obviously not George dancing, and so obviously ‘80s it’s laughable. I know if George ever really danced like that, John would come back from the grave and slap him around like a little bitch. My best guess? George was sitting out on the corner begging for change to buy a 40, trying to decide whether or not Paul would give him another one of those interest-free "loans" when the producers of this song came up to him and asked him if he wanted the work. "Could I get a sandwich out of the deal?" asked a hungry George? "Of course, we’ll even let you eat at the commissary." (Andrew pipes up, "Chips, too?" "Yes, George, we’ll givd you chips, too.") And so was a video that day born. --JW  

Whitney Houston – How Will I Know (1986)  
     (***)  Ahh… remember the good old days when Michael Jackson was black and Whitney Houston was white? When Bobby Brown was just some kid from New Edition and not the Mike Tyson to Whitney’s Leon Spinks? Those were simpler times, and the "How Will I Know" video is my favorite of the early Whitney era. And, yes, I do still like a lot of her Reagan-era singles, because I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. In "How Will I Know," she wears her gray chain-mail dress and matching headband and dances around a maze of too-colorful walls. Paint splatters on the screen and a troupe of underpaid dancers follows her around. "If he loves me… if he loves me not." Is there any more simple and true depiction of the ache of unrequited love? --AH  

Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana (1988)  
     (**1/2)  This is the funniest ‘80s-era Michael Jackson video, his attempt to show the world he could rock out. That’s not the funniest part of it, although I always bust up when Michael bows down to his C.C. Deville-looking guitarist and rips his shirt to mid-chest, scaring Christian Coalition members everywhere. No, what I enjoy most is the fact that Mike builds the entire song around a seductress (who looks vaguely like Vanity) who follows him to his concerts, corners him and just won’t let him be. Not even after he yells "Let me be" about fifty times in a row. "Dirty Diana" shows us a Jackson in transition, a man whose skin is several shades lighter than his last album, whose nose is narrower and who has 16 more zippers on his pants. Needless to say, he has more on his mind here than any Diana, Ross or otherwise. –AH  

Madonna – Material Girl (1985)  
     (***)  I think it’s a testament to the superficiality of the American media that this novelty song and video ended up defining Madonna’s public image for the next four years. Anyone who paid attention to the lyrics would figure out in a minute that this song isn’t to be taken seriously. I mean, she’s ripping off Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, complete with red Marilyn Monroe dress and a stable of male dancers who are dressed like U.N. ambassadors to Paraguay. Call me optimistic, but I’ve always seen this song as a send-up of the materialistic ‘80s ideal. The music is more obnoxious and syncopated than any Madonna hit before or since, not including some of the computer blip effects on Ray of Light. Maybe it’s good that Madonna changes her image with every video; if she would have pursued this spoiled brat look, her career would have sunk without a trace. Like the careers of all the dancers in this video, for instance. –AH  

Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls (1986)  
     (**)  Okay, question my sexuality, but I like this song. I’m not much into the Pet Shop Boys as a whole – the way I see it, without the paving they did for the American market, we wouldn’t have had to endure groups like Erasure and Wet Wet Wet. (Paving the way for Wet Wet Wet; that’s a cross no one should bear.) The video is typical Brit deco nonsense, with the two band members wandering the streets of London with trench coats and skinny black ties. One of them, the one with the pinker lipstick, raps and sings the chorus while the other stands behind him, doing nothing. Moral support, I guess. Needless to say, the video doesn’t do much to match the quirky appeal of the song, and I refuse to rate this highly on principle. James and I boycott music like this so adamantly that we put one of Jeremy’s ex-girlfriend’s mix tapes out in the snow all night because it had too much Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode and other music for guys to wear garters to. –AH  
     (zero)  Why are Parker Lewis and his cronie parading around London? Surprise! It’s not Parker Lewis at all; it’s those pesky Pet Shop Boys! Watching this abomination, I wish somebody would call the pet shop and tell them their pets have escaped and are running amuck. This video is a simpering story about how the lead singer goes slumming with girls from the West Side. I almost wish London would have gotten blitz-bombed, just so they would have had to stop filming this. You’ll notice how the other band member appears to be translucent. Well, that’s me going back in time, preventing his parents from getting married. The lead singer is next. I’ve got your number, you fruit! As the good Reverend would put it, "I hope they burn in the fires of hell, where they will eat naught but burning embers, and drink naught but hot, burning, magma." –JW  

Tom Petty – Don’t Come Around Here No More (1985)  
     (****)  Tom Petty was one of the few artists in the ‘80s who didn’t sell out, who kept doing drugs and didn’t forsake his guitar for a Casio. He still ended up being a VH1 favorite anyway. "Don’t Come Around Here" is probably the first big-budget video of the ‘80s that aged well. It’s in the same effects-ridden vein as The Cars’ "You Might Think," but not nearly as cheesy. The black-and-white checkered set messes with your perspective, the hog-nose on Alice freaks you out and the cake… well, the cake looks damned delicious. I would eat a blue-and-white Alice cake. I have a feeling this is what reality looks like to Tom Petty all the time. –AH  

R.E.M. – It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (1987)  
     (***)  Seven years into the Reagan presidency, this is how a lot of people were feeling, but only R.E.M. could articulate it with the proper form of alarm and pretentiousness. This video, which has played on "120 Minutes" once a week for 632 straight weeks, forsakes visuals of the R.E.M. band members for an 11-year-old boy. He spends the entire video rummaging through a trashed house in the middle of nowhere and frolicking with his dog. As he takes off his shirt and begins dancing around, holding his skateboard, Michael Stipe watches through a peephole in the next room, hand deep in his trousers. Later, he stabs the boy in the shower... All of my customary Stipe-bashing aside, "It’s the End" is an undeniable neo-pop classic that has made an indelible mark on our culture. It’s in commercials. Commercials! How must Stipe hate such crass capitalist greed. I bet it pisses him off more than hearing "Everybody Hurts" in a Band-Aid ad after little Peter falls down and goes boom. –AH  
     (***)  Of all R.E.M.’s self-indulgent ‘80s concept videos, this is the only one I can give the nod. Don’t get me wrong, I love concept videos; they go against everything MTV and company stands for. The only problem is, most of the time, Michael Stipe was suffering from what I like to call Andy Warhol Syndrome, making weirdness for weirdness’ sake. This time around though, he gets away with it. R.E.M. plays and Michael sings those oh-so-incomprehensible words to the song while a boy rummages through a devastated room, immersing himself in pop icons (and presenting them all for our approval, of course) so he doesn’t have to deal with the destruction of his culture. Or at least that’s what the transparent metaphors seem to be calling out to me. Of course, this video is an eighties classic, and everybody always sings along with the chorus (even though nobody knows the actual verses: "Listen to yourself churn? What’s he saying?"), so it gets some points for that. I just can’t help getting this image of Michael sitting in the director’s chair: "Okay, Billy, now take your shirt off. That’s right… now, pick up a skateboard… oooh, good…" Brrrr… it’s a frightening thought. –JW  

Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al (1986)  
     (**)  This was when you knew Paul Simon sold out. Yeah, the song is kind of catchy in a real synthesized ‘80s way. It’s from the Graceland album, his "Africans have so much to contribute to pop music" effort. The video is set in a simple pink room, instruments displayed proudly. It also features Chevy Chase. That should be the only red flag any discriminating VH1 viewer needs to banish this one to cable oblivion. I mean, Chevy had already starred in two Fletch movies by this point. It was over for both of them. I can call you Betty and, Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al. –AH  

     Inspired by the USA For Africa video "We Are the World"
     ME: I like the sequence of artists in this, although I didn’t see the need to include Kenny Rogers. 
     JAMES: Neither did an unforgiving public. 
     ME: Tina Turner’s hair is kind of subdued here. The headphones are wearing her down. 
     CARRIE: She was in her Thunderdome phase here. And there’s Diana Ross, asking everyone, "Where’s Africa? Point me to Africa." 
     JAMES: That’s the whitest-looking black man I’ve ever seen. Who is that? 
     ME: That’s James Ingram, pre-An American Tail
     JAMES: I want a poster of Cyndi Lauper jumping up and down while Huey Lewis clenches his fist with emotion. 
     CARRIE: Who the hell is that? 
     ME: That’s Hall. 
     CARRIE: Oh, God. Where the hell is Oates? 
     ME: He’s on the back chorus riser with Dan Aykroyd.
Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight (1986)  
     (*)  You want to know what vertigo is like? Or what it’s like to get locked into a really bad acid trip? Or what hell will be like? They’re all three contained in this manic, obnoxious video from the depths of the mid-1980s. The video was filmed on one vast soundstage with the band members and various extras, and was edited in split-second intervals to make the peoples’ heads and bodies move all over the place and jerk around like an episode of "Dr. Katz." Only the microphone stands still, because, hey, it’s the duty of every microphone to capture every pearl of Wang Chung wisdom with faithful precision. I don’t think anyone sets out to record an annoying sports anthem – I’m sure Gary Glitter was just going about his business when he recorded that "Hey!" song – but Wang Chung doomed their careers the instant they conceived this one. –AH  
     (*)  Damn, this is lame. I may never tell anybody to "Wang Chung tonight" again. Armed only with some cheap editing equipment, a bare room, some weird dancers, and a vague idea about "interlacing frames," Wang Chung set out to make a video. The result: a boring mess that almost seems Peter Gabriel-esque, but without any of the style or technique. Here’s what they apparently did – they shot the same footage twice, then cut clips from both and put them together into one print. The result is everybody appears to be jerking and quivering. Gee… if the MTV Music Awards had been around, they would have clinched "Best Special Effects in a Video with no Concept" easy.  This video is another point for Jeremy’s theory of why ‘80s videos sucked. --JW  

Wham! – Careless Whisper (1985) 
     (*1/2)  Every time I hear the first few bars of the saxophone in this song, I don’t know, I expect to be rubbing coconut oil on the back of my gay lover. It doesn’t help that, half the time, I am. George Michael wrote this song when he was 16, showing off a well-developed sense of sugar pop balladry that most VH1 superstars try their entire lives to achieve. (I won’t name any names, but I will hold up the Tarzan soundtrack conspicuously.) George sails on his houseboat with a cute British teenager it pains him to kiss. Of course it pains him to kiss her; he’s thinking of her damn brother the whole time, thinking of how much he wants to try on her hot pants and cruise the strip with the top down. Oh, whatever. Wake me up when it’s my turn to be jacked off. --AH 

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions