June 20, 2010

Some bad music videos, part II

At the last BQT, I posed this query:

As suggested by its lyrics, what year did Asia release the song “Heat of the Moment”?

Slight caveat to this: Asia frontman John Wetton claims that the number in the lyrics does not refer to the year, it refers to some kind of place, and the accuracy is a coincidence. Oh, those wacky British prog rockers!

I had this song on the brain because…well, I often have it on the brain, I think it's a brilliant piece of songwriting and performance (though some people do like to mock it). I always seem to enjoy shifting time signatures in rock & roll, and Asia was blessed with some sterling musicianship. And recently, I went back and watched the video:

I want to love this: that whole flipping-squares thing is kind of cool, in an elegantly low-tech way, and there's some intriguing imagery. Plus, compare it with most music videos at the time, and the whole production is pretty slick (not unlike Asia's debut album). But here's the problem (apart from guitarist Steve Howe being a strong contender for the next "World's Ugliest Musicians" video round): It's so literal. We start with a spinning globe stopping on Asia, of course. Soon after: "A look from you" (woman looks to the side) "and I would fall from grace" (her hands are joined in prayer) "and that would wipe the small right from my face" (a smile is almost literally wiped from a man's face). Then the chorus: "It was the heat" (the word "heat" is branded into wood) "of the moment" (clocks) "telling me what my heart meant" (EKG monitor). It goes on like this.

MTV changed everything, and part of the problem is that musicians, who were accustomed to being audio performers and not visual ones, had to adjust, quickly and sometimes awkwardly. Many of them flailed around for the best ideas they could find, and I imagine the guys in Asia didn't have the graphic sense to think beyond the most basic idea for how to visualize this song. Some blame should also rest with the directors, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, former members of 10cc, who went on to make a lot of the best music videos of the 1980s; clearly, they were only just starting to figure it out here. The result is an somewhat embarrassingly primitive clip that cuts against the polished musicianship of the song itself.

Another thing you see a lot in early music videos was a palpable discomfort on the part of the musicians themselves. I remember being nine years old, in school, and the teacher, for some reason, had a video camera and filmed a few minutes of fourth grade in action. We all had watched TV till our eyes had melted, but I bet most of us had never seen an actual video camera before, certainly hadn't been filmed. We were smiling nervously, laughing like idiots. We just didn't know how to act in front of a camera.

That effect is on display on a lot of early videos. Here's an artifact: One of the first videos to be shown on MTV, "Hold on to the Night," by Baltimore generic-rockers Bootcamp.

First, this is just a dreadful song (no, Mr. Perm, you cannot sing, and when I heard the line "Sometimes lonely but never along," I just knew the rhyme would be "danger zone"). But there is just no imagination in the video, and the band members are making complete asses of themselves goofing around like self-conscious nine-year-olds. I picture the director saying, "Okay, fellas, we've blocked off the street, sent all the hookers home: Here are your unplugged instruments, the camera's on: Do something!" They don't even give the drummer his kit, and the keytar guy puts it in his jacket when he's done playing it. I'd say it's good that at least they look like they're having fun, but I don't think they are—they look incredibly uncomfortable to me.

Enough crappy videos for now. I still plan to get back to my "Greatest Hits" blog series at some point, and I want to write up the recent, long-awaited DVD release of The T.A.M.I. Show. Better music is coming.


Bill Scurry said...

The best thing about Kevin Godley and Lol Creme's "Cry" was that it featured uberproducer Trevor Horn as the last cry-face.

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

ugg boots uk
genuine uggs
parajumper jacket
cheap uggs uk
cheap uggs for sale
ugg boots on sale
discount uggs
cheap ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
belstaff outlet
genuine ugg boots uk
roshe run
uggs outlet
belstaff jackets
uggs on sale
ugg black friday sale
uggs sale
ugg boots for kids
cheap uggs
cheap uggs for sale
discount uggs
ugg australia sale uk
isabel marant sneakers
uggs outlet online
discount ugg boots
ugg boots for women
canada goose sale
tory burch black friday sale 2014
uggs clearance
ugg outlet
genuine uggs
cheap ugg boots uk
uggs for cheap
nike sb
ugg outlet store
air max pas cher
new balance shoes

Anonymous said...

ray ban glasses
nike roshe
lebron james shoes
nike roshe
Yves Saint Laurent outlet
burberry uk
michael kors uk
kate spade outlet
red wing shoes
manolo blahnik sale
louis vuitton outlet store
air max
nike factory outlet
nike shox shoes
nike roshe run
cheap louis vuitton
coach handbag
nike high heels
vera bradley outlet
cheap air max
fitflops clearance
christian louboutin outlet
cheap coach handbags
ray ban sunglasses
nike roshe run
prada outlet
new balance shoes
burberry bags
jimmy choo outlet
kobe bryant shoes 2015
mcm bags
cheap nike air max
michael kors bags outlet
louboutin sale
juicy couture bags
nike high heels
cheap oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton
nike factory outlet
roshe run

Fangyaya said...

timberland boots
adidas outlet store
los angeles clippers jerseys
canada goose coats
beats by dre
kate spade
adidas nmd
ray bans
ray ban sunglasses uk
cheap oakleys
tory burch flats
true religion outlet
canada goose outlet
ugg uk
mont blanc pen
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors outlet clearance
true religion uk
cheap true religion jeans
ugg canada
hermes bags
true religion jeans
new england patriots jerseys
oakley sunglasses
oakley sunglasses outlet
nike air max uk
jordan 3 retro
coach outlet
coach outlet
ugg boots
louis vuitton handbags
true religion outlet online
coach outlet store online clearances
rolex watches
louis vuitton purses
coach outlet store online
denver broncos jerseys
michael kors handbags
ugg sale