Music Video of the Day: It’s Tricky by RUN-DMC (1987, dir. Jon Small)


When I picked out this music video to feature today, I thought it would just be a catchy song that happens to feature Penn & Teller. I had no idea that the song It’s Tricky is actually an amalgamation of My Sharona by The Knack and Mickey by Toni Basil. The site Who Sampled has a great comparison here for Toni Basil and here for The Knack. They took a small bit of the guitar riff from My Sharona which got them sued in 2006, and was settled out of court. The vocal structure for the song was taken from Mickey. I would have never put that together had I not stumbled upon it on Wikipedia.

As for the music video, I’m a little confused. She gets her chain taken by Penn & Teller, the cops show up, they chase after them, she calls RUN-DMC as you do, and suddenly they are instantly doing three card monte again all in the span of a few minutes in front of the same theater. That’s tricky. Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if director Jon Small meant people to think of it that way.

This music video apparently aired for the first time in May of 1987 while Beastie Boys’ music video for No Sleep Till Brooklyn first aired in April of 1987. I only bring it up because of the similarities between the last scenes where RUN-DMC shows up at their scheduled concert to find that Penn & Teller have taken their place. Beastie Boys do the same kind of thing in No Sleep For Brooklyn, which seems to have borrowed elements from RUN-DMC’s music video for Walk This Way that aired the previous year in 1986. IMVDb says that It’s Tricky first aired in 1986, but 1987 makes more sense, and is in mvdbase that always seems to be the more accurate source for older music videos. Regardless, I find it funny how these things all interconnect whether intentionally via sampling, or what seemed like two different groups who had similar music videos right around the same time.

Director Jon Small seems to have worked on about 50 music videos as well as some concert films.

That seems to be all there is about this simple and fun music video, so enjoy!