Music Video of the Day: Bat Out Of Hell by Meat Loaf (1979, dir. Arnold Levine)

The following quotes are from the book, I Want My MTV:

“For Bat Out of Hell [in 1977], I talked the label into giving me $30,000 to shoot three live performance clips, and I got them played as trailers before midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That is still the number one selling album in the history of Holland, and I never played there. It’s all because of the “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” video.” –Meat Loaf

“MTV was never very kind to me. They never played any of my videos.” –Meat Loaf

I love to speculate as to the reason why. It certainly doesn’t seem to have stopped him from trying. I can find many music videos that he made during the 80s. It’s telling though, that despite being such a well-known artist, most of the videos aren’t in mvdbase or IMVDb. That includes Dead Ringer for Love that had Cher in it.

What else is telling is that no matter what video it is, or no matter how much it tries to look like a modern music video, they are just the Bat Out Of Hell videos with some window-dressing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not MTV. I’m sure Meat Loaf being overweight didn’t help either. Also, as great as the songs are, it’s not really rock as much as it is rock-tinged opera music, or put more simply, rock opera. If MTV had trouble selling Def Leppard to the point that their videos looked like Duran Duran ones, then imagine trying to sell Meat Loaf. It all adds up to an artist that was kind of destined to fall through the cracks.

A good way to see the difference between Meat Loaf music not making it to MTV, and Meat Loaf music making it to MTV, is to compare his videos to Bonnie Tyler music videos. Her songs were also from Jim Steinman in one form or another. They are operatic as well. You can really hear that on Holding Out For A Hero and Faster Than The Speed Of Night. However, Tyler is pretty, she’s a woman, she’s thin, she can sing, and most importantly, her videos were an event. Even more than thirty years later, you can say her name and the video for Total Eclipse Of The Heart comes to people’s minds. There is symbolism, storylines, an overall vision across several of her best videos, and they are memorable, which makes them re-watchable.

You see a Meat Loaf music video, you like the song, and buy the album. The cycle ends there. That kind of cuts MTV out of the picture when you don’t want to come back to them to see the video. During the time a Meat Loaf video would play, they could be airing Breaking The Law by Judas Priest, Poison Arrow by ABC, and Rio by Duran Duran that all stand separate from the song and bring back viewers. You have to remember that several people who were at the genesis of MTV were from The Movie Channel where it was their job to optimize programming based on demographic research. They needed money and had limited airtime.

Today we live in a world where the record companies can dump everything on YouTube. Who cares if it only brings in a few thousand views? Every single video can be watched concurrently by as many people as there are in the world, and you don’t have to worry about it after that except for licensing deals that you would have to handle anyways. I can’t imagine it costs much to put up either. They also have the benefit of people filling in the gaps by putting the videos up themselves that they can then claim advertising rights on. MTV didn’t have these luxuries.

Of course while this might have been the case for Meat Loaf during the 80s, the 90s were a different story when they and VH1 must have realized that he now fit their more original programming model since he was also an actor on top of being a famous musician. I remember him hosting a game show for VH1. There was also that biopic in 2000 called Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back.

Sing us out of 2016, Meat Loaf!

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