Music Video of the Day: After the Rain by Nelson (1990, directed by ????)

Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are the twin sons of the late, 1950s teen idol, Ricky Nelson.  In 1989, they signed a recording contract with Geffen Records.  As Nelson, they released their first album, After the Rain, in 1990.  Coming at the tail end of the hair metal era, Nelson specialized in the type of hard rock that was so radio friendly and inoffensive that even your mother could safely listen to them.  Nelson achieved brief fame before Nirvana came along and permanently changed the musical landscape.

The first single released off of Nelson’s debut album was the title track, After the Rain.  It was also their first music video.

I can’t remember where it was but I once saw the video for After The Rain at the top of a list of the worst music videos of all time.  Actually, I’ve seen it at the top of several similar lists.  After The Rain‘s bad reputation is almost entirely due to the first two minutes of the video.

A slob in a trailer park yells at his son.  The sobbing teen lies down underneath a big Nelson poster than no one over the age of 12 would actually have hanging next to their bed.  Suddenly, the poster comes to life and, in true Dr. Strange fashion, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson take the trailer park teen’s astral form on a journey to some sort of sweat lodge, when a Native American shaman holds up a feather.  The magic feather transports the troubled teen to a Nelson concert and everything is instantly better.

What does it all mean, beyond suggesting that Nelson was the preferred band of both the trailer park and the sweat lodge?  I don’t know.  And was anyone’s life ever actually improved by going to a Nelson concert?  Again, I just don’t know.

Like many bands of the era, Nelson’s popularity was washed away by a tidal wave of Seattle grunge.  Nelson may now be forgotten but we’ll always have the feather.

Music Video of the Day: Drive My Car by Breakfast Club (1988, directed by Bill Fishman)

When I was doing my research for today’s music video of the day, I was sorry to discover that the 80s pop group Breakfast Club was not named after the famous John Hughes film.

Instead, they were formed in New York City in 1979 and they went through several different lineups before they signed with ZE Records.  At one time, a young Madonna was their dummer but she left the band long before they released their first (and only) album in 1987.

Breakfast Club’s biggest hit was Drive My Car, a cover of a song that had previously been made famous by The Beatles.  The cover appeared on the soundtrack of License to Drive, which is actually one of the better films to co-star Corey Haim and Corey Feldman.  It’s no Lost Boys but it is better than Dream A Little Dream and Heather Graham’s in it.

The video is the usual combination of clips from the film and scenes of the band acting crazy.  Since they were already covering a Beatles song, it made sense to go ahead and put Breakfast Club in a 1980s version of Hard Day’s Night and have them spend most of the video trying to escape their obsessed fans.  While the Beatles had to outrun their fans, Breakfast Club was lucky enough to own an invisible car.  I don’t know who edited it but this video does do a good job of integrating the scenes of the band with the clips from the film.

Things worked out better in the video than they did in real life.  Breakfast Club split up shortly after the release of License to Drive.

Music Video of the Day: Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith (1991, directed by Marty Callner)

Remember the old chat lines?

I don’t know if they’re even still around but back in the late 80s and the 90s, they were the only thing advertised on TV after midnight.  All you had to do was dial the number and then, for only three dollars a minute, you could get a custom psychic reading or hear Ice Cube’s thought of the day.

The most popular chat lines were the ones that were advertised as being used by “hot singles waiting to talk to you!”  The commercials all featured insanely hot girls in their underwear, usually lying in bed with a landline phone.  Common sense should have told everyone that anyone that hot wasn’t sitting at home on Friday night, waiting to hear from some teenager in Canton.  Still, 1-800 numbers were a big business back in the day.  They were the original chat rooms.

They weren’t cheap, either.  “3.99 for the first minute, 0.99 for each additional minute.”  Those minutes added up fast, especially when the operators had been trained to draw things out.  For some people, it was worth it for the chance to fantasize about the voice at the other end of the line.

The video for Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion centers around that fantasy.  On one end, the teenager from Canton who says he’s an entertainment lawyer.  On the other end, his fantasy.  In the middle of it all is Aerosmith, performing at an old warehouse in the Charleston Navy Yards.

Sweet Emotion is one of Aerosmith’s most enduring songs.  Some fans think that the song was inspired by the band’s mutual dislike of Joe Perry’s then-wife but Steve Tyler has said that it was actually inspired by a feud between the wives of both Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton.  The song was a big hit when it was originally released in 1975 and then it was an even bigger hit when it was re-released in 1991.

Music Video of the Day: I’m Free by The Soup Dragons (1990, directed by ?????)

Today’s music video of the day is for the song I’m Free, which was covered by the Scottish group, The Soup Dragons, in 1990.

That’s right, this is a cover.  I’m Free was originally recorded by The Rolling Stones in 1965 and was the last track on the Out Of Our Heads album.  To quote Rolling Stone Magazine, the original song was a “folk rocker.”  The version by the Soup Dragons was much more psychedelic and featured a verse from Jamaican reggae performer, Junior Reid.  I’m Free became the band’s biggest hit, reaching the number 2 spot on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart.  You may have also heard it in the film, The World’s End.

As for the Soup Dragons, after ten years and five albums, they disbanded in 1995, though all of the members continue to make music to this day.

Music Video of the Day: Sacred Emotion by Donny Osmond (1989, directed by Michael Bay)

I don’t know what amuses me more about this video, the fact that it suggests Donny Osmond can bring rain to the desert or that it was directed by the master of bombast, Michael Bay?

This song was the second single to be released off of Osmond’s 1989 album, Donny Osmond, and it was a part of an attempt to rebrand Osmond as a contemporary rocker.  Despite the popularity of both this song and Soldier of Love, that attempt failed because once an Osmond, always an Osmond.

The video is pure Michael Bay.  Donny, several hot women, and a group of construction workers drive out to the middle of the desert.  While Donny looks over blue prints and gives orders, the models and the day laborers start carrying boards and hammering nails.  Are they building a house or a temple?  No, it turns out that they’re building a stage so that Donny can perform in front of an audience that spontaneously shows up.  Donny does such a good job performing that it starts to rain and the video goes from being in black and white to being in color.  Bay directs with the same style that he would later bring to Armageddon and the Transformers franchise, except that instead of meteors and robots, he’s showcasing Donny Osmond.

It would be easy to mistake this video for being the most wholesome beer commercial ever made.

Music Video of the Day: Sunglasses at Night by Corey Hart (1984, directed by Rob Quartly)

That synthesizer.

Those lyrics.

And all the sunglasses.

No song epitomizes the 80s quite as much as Corey Hart’s Sunglasses at Night.  Though the song popularized the idea of wearing your sunglasses at night, the video actually portrays sunglasses as being the tools of an authoritarian state.  Hart is thrown in prison because he doesn’t wear his sunglasses at night.  Fortunately, Hart is released by a sympathetic female police officer.  The officer is played by future VJ Laurie Brown and the video was shot at the Don Jon Jail in Toronto, Canada.

This is a song that continues to live on because of its use in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.  There’s nothing like stealing a car in the middle of the night and going on a high-speed police chase while listening to Sunglasses at Night.

Music Video of the Day: All Out of Love by Air Supply (1980, directed by ????)

A few years ago, you couldn’t turn on a television past midnight without coming across the Time-Life Classic Soft Rock infomercial.

It was hosted by the members of the Australian soft rock duo Air Supply, Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell.  While sitting in a very wholesome-looking living room, the Russells talked about how much they loved soft rock and how happy they were that Time-Life was now giving a new generation a chance to get mellow with Elton John, Peter Frampton, REO Speedwagon, and Seals & Croft.  Graham Russell played his guitar and a chirpy co-host said, “I can’t believe that I’m meeting Air Supply!”

The path to infomercial super stardom began in 1975 when Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock were both cast in the Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar.  They formed Air Supply in 1976 and went on to become superstars in Australia.  They also had eleven hits in the United States, five of which had the word “love” in the title.  Their biggest hit was All Out Of Love.

What do you say, everyone?

Are you ready to soft rock?

The song’s best known lyric, “I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you,” was originally “I’m all out of love, I want to arrest you.”  By arrest, Graham Russell meant that he wanted to capture someone’s attention.  No one found the lyric to be strange in Australia but, when it came time to release the song in the United States, Arista Records’s Clive Davis feared that listeners would misinterpret the song’s meaning.  It was Davis who came up with the new lyrics.

Years later, when Songfacts asked Graham Russell whether “I want to arrest you,” is a common Australian saying, he had this to say:

“It really isn’t. I think it was just me using a weird word. But, you know, now I think of it, it’s definitely very weird. There are certain words that you just don’t use when you’re writing songs. And ‘arrest’ is one of them. Words like ‘cabbage’ or ‘cauliflower,’ like that. There are certain words that just aren’t poetic. And ‘arrest’ is one of them. And I really don’t know why I used it. But Clive called me on it, and the rest became history.”