Top 10 Best Music Videos of the '80s
#10 - Men Without Hats - "The Safety Dance" - 1982
Men Without Hats -

. . . we can go where we want to | A place where they will never find | And we can act like we come from out of this world | Leave the real one far behind...
 

The video takes the freaky lead singer into some sort of Renaissance festival where he tries to get everybody to partake in this weird dance ritual. Dwarves and jesters abound. Notice how many of the best videos were created by bands that faded into obscurity faster than Gerry Cooney lasted in the ring with Larry Holmes? Here's another catchy tune based on an idiotic premise. I mean, what the fuck was a safety dance anyway? It seemed to be a lot of flailing your arms around like a total fuckin' moron. Some have claimed that the song is actually a plea for safe sex. What's it really all about? Who the hell cares! Besides, you have to appreciate any music video that features a dwarf (this one's dressed up as a true court jester to boot!). Side note: Safety Dance proved to be so popular that even Weird Al threw together a mediocre parody of the song called "The Brady Bunch" - "You can watch Mr. Rogers | You can watch Three's Company | And you can turn on Fame or the Newlywed Game | Or The Addams Family | I say, you can watch Barney Miller | And you can watch your MTV | And you can watch 'til your eyes fall out of your head | That'll be OK with me..." Men Without Hats was formed in Canada in 1980 by brothers Ivan (the wild-eyed, maniacal lead singer) and Stefan Doroschuk. They hit paydirt with their 1982 debut album, Rhythm of Youth, which peaked on the U.S. charts at No. 3. Unfortunately, their next "hit" crept to No. 127 on the charts and the band was over and done although they kept churning out the crap, including an album with the idiotic title The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century. They even threw together a greatest hits album called - believe it or not—Greatest Hats.

#09 - Motley Crue - "Girls, Girls, Girls" - 1987
Motley Crue -

Trick or treat-sweet to eat | On Halloween and New Year's Eve | Yankee girls ya just can't be beat | But they're the best when they're off their feet...

One of most notorious "Hair Bands" of the '80s belts out perhaps the most legendary tribute to strip clubs in rock 'n" roll history. It's one of those rare music videos where the crude lyrics perfectly complement the sleazy visuals. Some of these memorable titty bars are actually named in the tune like Dollhouse in Ft. Lauderdale, Tattletails in Atlanta and the 7th Veil in Los Angeles. Some defunct, some still thriving. Sex, booze and drugs forever! The inspiration for this classic video was rather simple, according to Crue band member Nikki Sixx: "We seemed to be hanging out in strip clubs and drinking a lot so we thought, hey, what about making a video of one?" If you don't like to watch slutty strippers prancing around a stage or spreading their legs around a pole, this video may not be for you. Conversely, if the video seems too tame, seek out the X-rated version, which can be found on "Motley Crue: Greatest Video Hits." Believe it or not, this song is still a staple at sleazy strip clubs throughout the country (or so they tell me).

#08 - Michael Jackson - "Thriller" - 1983
Michael Jackson -

And whosoever shall be found | Without the soul for getting down | Must stand and face the hounds of hell | And rot inside a corpse's shell...

Before he became a tabloid freak, MJ actually put forth some rather entertaining (and expensive) music videos that totally changed the rules of the game. Inspired by Night of the Living Dead, this masterpiece ran about 18 minutes and was the subject of conversation among brain-dead teens for some time. Drunken college students even tried to emulate the moves on beer-stained dance floors in frat houses throughout the country. Vincent Price provided the narration.

#07 - Run DMC w/Aerosmith - "Walk This Way" - 1986
Run DMC w/Aerosmith -

So I took a big chance | At the high school dance | With a lady who was ready to play | It wasn't me she was foolin' | Cause she knew what was she was doin' | When she told me how to walk this way...

Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay are putting their own unique spin on Aerosmith's 1975 rock classic "Walk This Way" while Steven Tyler attempts to sing it as well but is distracted by the rappers. The walls are thin. Tyler takes the microphone stand and bashes it through the wall. He tells them to shut the fuck up, or something to that effect. They tell him to fuck off. All of a sudden he's no longer pissed off. He shakes hands with the rappers. They all perform the song together on stage. They end up selling millions of albums. The end . . . Run DMC took rap mainstream (for better or worse) with "Walk This Way," which also served to revive Aerosmith (actually only Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry appeared in the video), a band that was, at the time, on the verge of fading into total obscurity precipitated by years of alcohol and drug abuse. It's funny to hear the absurd hyperbole that surrounds this video—like it was the greatest historic event since Churchill, FDR and Stalin met at Yalta. At the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, "Walk This Way" was nominated for Best Concept Video and Best Overall Performance in a Video but lost out both times to Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer." Kid Rock has claimed that his two greatest influences were Run DMC and Aerosmith. Now we know whom to blame . . . Well past their prime (20 to 30 years by most estimates), Aerosmith continues to churn out albums and go on tour, joining the Rolling Stones as one of those geriatric bands that refuses to quit. They've even let the band name become a roller-coaster ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's another example of "Colostomy Rock"as John Strausbaugh so eloquently describes this phenomenon in Rock Til You Drop"Rock simply should not be played by fifty-five-year-old men with triple chins wearing bad wighats, pretending still to be excited about playing songs they wrote thirty or thirty-five years ago and have played some thousands of times since. Its prime audience should not be middle-aged, balding, jelly-bellied dads who've brought along their wives and kids. It should not be trapped behind glass in a museum display and gawked at like remnants of a lost civilization. That is not rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' roll is not family entertainment."

#06 - Twisted Sister - "We're Not Gonna Take It" - 1984
Twisted Sister -

Oh you're so condescending | Your gall is never ending | We don't want nothin' | not a thing from you | Your life is trite and confiscated...

A punk kid gets chewed out by his domineering father (played by none other than the asshole ROTC guy, Doug Neidermeyer, from Animal House). "What's this, a Twisted Sister pin? On your uniform?" The kid miraculously spins around and transforms himself into-who else? — Dee Snider. He then proceeds to trash the entire house. Who can forget the image of Dee Snider with his face caked in makeup and dressed in a totally ridiculous costume as he belted out this one-hit wonder? Indeed, the band's outrageous antics and stage persona tended to make up for their simplistic lyrics. For instance, there's not too much to "We're Not Gonna Take It"—in fact variations of "we're not gonna take it" and "we ain't gonna take it" are repeated over 20 times throughout the song. However, the video is a true classic of the genre that compares favorably to the similarly themed "Fight for Your Right" from the Beastie Boys. One critic claims that Christina Aguileira stole her look from Snider. Long Island-based Twisted Sister peaked out with "We're Not Gonna Take It," which was included on their top-20 album Stay Hungry. After finally achieving stardom, the group found themselves totally bereft of ideas and disbanded in 1987. Snider went on to challenge Tipper Gore and the whole music ratings movement in an entertaining performance on Capitol Hill.

#05 - Wall of Voodoo - "Mexican Radio" - 1982
Wall of Voodoo -

I hear the talking of the DJ | Can't understand just what does he say? | I'm on a Mexican radio...

Mix some bizarre lyrics ("I wish I was in Tijuana | Eating barbecued iguana") with a few cheap sets and sight gags, throw in a finale that involves the lead singer's head emerging from a bowl of cooked beans and you've got this early classic that has always been a favorite among early MTVideophiles. Los Angeles-based new wave band Wall of Voodoo serves as the very definition of one-hit wonder. I mean can you name any of their other songs? Just one? Neither can I. "Mexican Radio" (from the album Call of the West) is a humorous video with some memorable images—but let's not get too carried away. For instance, one critic even compared this thing to Un Chien Andalou (1929), the classic surrealist film by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. Another "critic" claims that the bowl of beans scene recalls "many floating decapitated head films" such as The Incredible Melting Man, The Beastmaster and The House on Sorority Row. Formed in 1977, Wall of Voodoo disbanded in 1989 (lead singer Stan Ridgway had departed in 1983). Wall of Voodoo's lead guitarist and songwriter, Marc Moreland, died in 2002 from complications following a liver transplant. He was just 44 years old.

#04 - Madness - "Our House" - 1982
Madness -

Father wears his Sunday best | Mother's tired she needs a rest | The kids are playing up downstairs

A whacked-out household is invaded by this goofy, Men at Work-type band. Another infectious hit from a long-forgotten band (at least in the United States), this video's energy and humor serve to mask its otherwise banal and simplistic lyrics. Or did the video actually serve as a serious political commentary on the struggles of London's working class? Who the fuck knows? Either way, it was great entertainment. Even after they disappeared from the U.S. charts, Madness kept churning out the hits overseas (at least for a couple of years). The group disbanded in 1986 but reunited as The Madness just 17 months later. The magic was obviously gone and the band members soon went their separate ways (with the exception of occasional reunion "Madstock" concerts). One Step Beyond, a "musical about homelessness" based on the music of Madness, opened in London in 1993. By 1999, Madness was back together recording new songs—however they are yet to make another dent in the U.S. charts.

#03 - Men at Work - "Down Under" - 1982
Men at Work -

Traveling in a fried-out combie | On a hippie trail, head full of zombie | I met a strange lady, she made me nervous | She took me in and gave me breakfast...

A whacked out singer with a lazy eye named Colin Hay and his band of misfits perform a series of skits depicting their own unique vision of life in Australia. Along the way they manage to introduce a number of weird Aussie terms to the American lexicon such as "vegemite sandwich" and "fried-out combie." For a little over a year, this energetic Aussie group stunned the critics by landing hit after hit on the pop charts from its album, Business as Usual. It wouldn't have happened without MTV. I mean, come on, can you imagine sitting around listening to this shit today without the humorous images? The videos they put forth were original and energetic—but very fleeting. In fact, this group faded out rather quickly (however, Hay's solo career has developed quite a cult following over the years). Business as Usual stayed at No. 1 on the U.S. charts for a phenomenal 16 weeks until the arrival of Michael Jackson's Thriller. It's hard to believe today, but the album actually sold more than 10 million copies and Men at Work won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist for 1982. However, after another successful album, Cargo, it was all downhill from there. Hay departed in 1987 to pursue a solo career. In 1993, the band was inducted into the Australian Recording Association's Hall of Fame, not necessarily a monumental achievement to say the least. In the late '90s, Hay and fellow band member Greg Ham embarked on a world tour—playing all of the old Men at Work shit of course. The highlight of the "new" Men at Work was the band's performance at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

#02 - Van Halen - "Hot for Teacher" - 1983
Van Halen -

I think of all the education that I missed | But then my homework was never quite like this | Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad, I'm hot for teacher...

"Whaddaya think the teacher's gonna look like this year?"
 Hapless geek Waldo dreads going to school until he gets a sight of his bikini-clad teacher performing a tabletop dance in the classroom. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse of child actors portraying young Van Halen band members. We also are treated to a rousing clip of Eddie performing a guitar solo as he walks on top of a huge table in the library. Everybody then hauls ass in David Lee Roth's convertible. Nobody is quite sure what became of Waldo, but Eddie ends up as a mental patient, Alex a gynecologist, Michael a sumo wrestler and Roth a game-show host. "Maybe I should go to hell, but I'm doin' well..." Sex, humor, a catchy tune and another over-the-top performance by Roth—this quintessential Van Halen effort from the album 1984 has it all. "Hot for Teacher" reached No. 13 on the U.S. charts. I consider 1984 the FINAL Van Halen album because after it came out Roth left to pursue a solo career (bad move, Dave!) and the band has never been the same since. By the way, the late, great Phil Hartman did the voice of Waldo. In addition to 1984, the tune can be found on the Varsity Blues soundtrack.

#01 - Beastie Boys - "Fight for Your Right (To Party)" - 1986
Beastie Boys -

Man, living at home is such a drag | Now your mom threw away your best porno mag (Busted!) . . .

"Kick it!"
 The Beasties—Adam Horovitz (King Ad-Rock), Adam Yauch (MCA) and Michael Diamond (Mike D)—crash a party full of geeks and nerds that devolves into a climactic pie fight straight out of a Fatty Arbuckle movie. The joint gets totally trashed, a television gets smashed with a sledgehammer, beer flows freely and the Beasties end up escaping with all the hot-looking chicks. For the perfect mixture of humorous, innovative and downright kick-ass lyrics, is there any band out there that could match the Beasties? The party scene in "Fight for Your Right" (a top-10 single from the hit album Licensed to Ill) was modeled after the party scene in Breakfast at Tiffanys, according to www.beastiemania.com. The two-day video shoot cost just $20,000 and the cast consisted of friends of the band. One critic called "Fight for Your Right" the Beasties' version of the Beatles' A Hard Days Night. The video definitely put the Beasties on the map to rap stardom, not bad for a couple of punks from Brooklyn. Bottom line: "Fight for Your Right" is simply one of the greatest party videos of all time. What else is there to say? Licensed to Ill, the brainchild of Run D.M.C. producer Rick Rubin, sold more than 8 million copies in the United States alone, becoming the first rap album to hit No. 1 on the pop charts. The Beasties "shouted beer-stoked rhymes with the zest of drive-by Dead End Kids," according to The Rolling Stone Album Guide. "Fight for Your Right" placed 66th on MTV's 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made and was No. 100 of VH1's 100 Greatest Videos ... "Your mom busted in and said, 'What's that noise?' Aw, mom you're just jealous—IT'S THE BEASTIE BOYS!"

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