Acceptable In The ’80s – My Top 5 Pick Of Strange ’80s Music Videos

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Inspiration for a post can strike just about anywhere, including a social media platform like Twitter! Last week I tweeted about my ’80s music video watching binge to satisfy my craving for good music from the decade and to see the video to go with the music. I mentioned in this tweet how I discovered that while a lot of the music from that decade rocks, the music videos to go with them often tend to be a hell of a lot stranger than the videos we get today. Okay, we do get some strange music videos even now, but maybe not as far out there as the ones from the ’80s.

Tyler Murphy of the Delver blog responded to my tweet and said this ’80s flashback I was having would make a good blog post. Even Cary of Recollections of Play agreed with Tyler’s suggestion on Twitter. With at least two fellow bloggers encouraging me to write a post about my pick of the strange and weird music videos of that decade, I decided, why not? I get to listen to good music and I get to laugh at some of the stranger than fiction videos artists in their heyday thought were cool. Without further ado, here are my picks:

1. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead or Alive

This song conjures up images of Adam Sandler’s movie The Wedding Singer every time I hear it. It must be because the movie opens with this song playing in the background. I always enjoyed this song and I find myself bopping along to the music. However, watching this video, while I was entertained by the clothes and hair, is one giant random thing after another. The song opens with a disco ball and the lead singer kind of posing inside a picture frame. He’s singing and shaking it the way people of the ’80s used to dance back in the day. Then we jump into the rest of his band mates spinning like a record with ribbons wrapped around them as if they’re a piece of sushi. Okay, I didn’t think the spinning part was strange. It fit well with the lyrics, “you spin me right round baby, right round like a record.” What makes this video veer off into the realm of strange is a part in the video where the lead singer sings straight into the camera and you see alien looking hands and arms slinking around behind him. Somehow we cut into a shot of flags and streamers being waved around as if it suddenly became a marching band act. None of it seems to relate to a song about having someone you can’t get out of your head. It’s a collection of random images and actions thrown together and made into a video.

2. China Girl by David Bowie

A majority of this video is sort of normalish, if you can call it that. There is a “china girl” in the video David Bowie woos/seduces, which relates to the title and lyrics of the song. The reason I stuck this video on the list has more to do with one scene in particular where David Bowie runs to the girl in the video, she’s holding a bowl of rice, Bowie takes the bowl of rice from her hands and flings the bowl up in the air––rice flying from it. The straight face I had while watching the video completely fell apart as I was laughing hysterically at the oddity of that one scene. I doubt Bowie meant for his video to be a comedy. The rice in the air scene was more out of place compared to how the rest of the video plays out.

3. She Bop by Cyndi Lauper

This video is hard to describe without watching it. I’m starting to see randomness and the weird are common traits for music videos in the ’80s. Maybe the video can be described as what it’d be like to have an acid trip? At least if I knew what it was like to have one. The video starts off with a burger joint. The burgers are being made on an assembly line and the customers kind of walk out of the burger joint in a neat, uniform line with smiles on their faces and their trays poised perfectly in their arms. Their movements are robotic and mechanical, like the assembly line, as Cyndi Lauper cheerfully sings and flits around them. There’s an animation sequence, a scene where Lauper appears before a judge, and finally the video closes out with an orchestrated musical number. Doesn’t make sense? Try watching the video.

4. Dancing With Myself by Billy Idol

Billy Idol dancing with zombies isn’t all that weird when you think about it. What makes this video a tad weird for me is the few images we get of a guy swinging a hammer and a lady knitting in their home, and a brief flash of a silhouetted woman being chained against a wall. The video would have done better to focus on Idol and the dancing zombies in this case. Those other brief images are head scratchers for an otherwise great song.

5. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me by The Culture Club

This video is a ball of weird like Cyndi Lauper’s She Bop. Boy George is in a courtroom answering to crimes of public disturbance? He’s dancing and singing at a night club then at a pool, offending everyone in sight. What’s so obscene about his singing and dancing? Nothing really, except maybe the bad dancing Boy George does. The courtroom itself is a joke with the rest of the members of The Culture Club jamming in the background while the judge is shaking his head disapprovingly. Oddball video all right.

I think the conclusion to draw from this list is the ’80s is a decade of fantastic music, but with music videos that never quite make sense. If you have any weird music videos from the ’80s you enjoyed, please share them in the comments section below.

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2 thoughts on “Acceptable In The ’80s – My Top 5 Pick Of Strange ’80s Music Videos”

  1. There’s not a bad song here, but you’re right about the videos. The 80s had to be the height of music video experimentation, what with the creation of MTV, and artists just went bonkers! While Lauper’s video makes some sense if you know what “She Bop” is about, things like Billy Idol dancing with zombies is baffling. The absolute strangest 80s video for me will always be Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” and Peter Gabriel released some bizarre gems with “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time.” And then, oh man, what about the uncomfortableness of Bowie and Jagger in “Dancing in the Street.” Or watching the guys from Van Halen “dance” in “Too Hot For Teacher.”

    Sorry. I could go on and on…but I won’t. 🙂

    1. I looked up the meaning behind “She Bop” and now I sort of get it. Haha! Funny how eye opening some of these songs are when you find out what the artist’s intention was when they made it.

      You’re right about music videos being a new thing in that decade. I think in many ways, while a lot of them never made much sense, it was a great way for artists to have fun and experiment (to use your words). Some of these videos can be seen as abstract visual art in their own way, which is why I enjoy watching a lot of these videos. A lot of it was cheesy and weird, but in a good way most of the time. 🙂

      Now you gave me more videos I need to look for on YouTube, especially since all the ones you named are good songs too!

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