I don’t know if you can get more 90s than with this video, which features Rob Thomas leading a camel through a bowling alley and then becoming a news anchorman while his bandmates do things like sell steak from an ice cream truck, work as a waitress, and appear in cereal commercials.
You can debate what all of the symbols mean. I suspect that it doesn’t mean much at all. This song and video were very popular when I was in high school but even then when we all secretly suspected that the way Rob Thomas sang, “head honcho,” would seem progressively less cool over time.
This is one of the many videos to be directed by Matthew Rolston. He’s also done videos for everyone from Jennifer Love Hewitt to Jewel to Jessica Simpson to David Bowie and Seal. You know that video for Kiss From A Rose that doesn’t feature any clips from Batman Forever? That was Rolston.
Kiss destroys a house, just through the power of their music. That seems like a Kiss thing to do. This video is back from when the moral majority still thought that KISS stood for Knights In Satan’s Service.
Significantly, this was not only the last video to feature Ace Frehley as a member of Kiss but it was also the last video that Kiss filmed before they officially took off their makeup. The “unmasked era” lasted for 12 years, from 1983 to 1995. Unfortunately, it turned out that Kiss, without the makeup, wasn’t really that interesting of a band. With the makeup, they were beings from another world. Without the makeup, they might as well have just been a slightly more talented version of Poison. Kiss eventually did the right thing, put the makeup back on, and got back to destroying houses.
The father in this video is played by Howard Marks, who was Kiss’s business manager at the time.
I wanted to begin this day on a positive note and luckily, Journey’s going to help me do just that with Be Good To Yourself. This song was written at a time when singer Steve Perry was going through an array of personal problems and he was also dealing with the failing health of his mother. Though Perry may not have written the song, he did say that he needed a life-affirming anthem to sing. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain came through with Be Good To Yourself.
The video was a performance clip. That was always the best format for Journey during the Steve Perry years, as anyone who has seen the video for Separate Ways can attest.
This is a song that has often been misunderstood throughout the years. I can say that because I’m one of those people who has often misunderstood it.
Of course, we all know that Stone Gossard wrote the music for the song when he was still a member of Mother Love Bone. (Gossard called the instrumental track A Dollar Short.) Even before he was formally invited to become the leader singer of the band that would become Pearl Jam, Vedder heard Gossard’s music and came up with the lyrics for Alive. The song deals with a boy who discovers that the man he thought was his father was actually his stepfather. That part is autobiographical. The song also tells the story of how the boy has an incestuous relationship with his mother. That part is definitely fictional.
The lyrics are pretty dark and Vedder has said that the “I’m still alive” chorus was originally meant to be an acknowledgement of a curse. With everything terrible that has happened, the song’s main character was still alive and still having to deal with all of his pain. However, people like me heard that “I’m still alive” and adapted the song as an anthem. We interpreted the song as saying that, despite everything, the singer is still alive. We saw it as a positive thing.
(Of course, we didn’t consider that Alive is the first part of a three-song mini-opera about a man who goes mad and embarks on a killing spree.)
According to Vedder, seeing the positive reaction to the song’s chorus caused him to realize that the song’s “curse” had been broken. That’s a very Eddie Vedder way of saying that it’s okay to see the song as being an anthem.
As for the music video, the shots of the ocean remind us that Vedder reportedly came up with the lyrics while surfing. The rest of the video was filmed at an actual Pearl Jam concert in Seattle. Playing drums for the video was sessions drummer Matt Chamberlain. Reportedly, the man who would become Pearl Jam’s official drummer (on the recommendation of Chamberlain), Dave Abbruzzese, was in the audience while this video was being filmed. The video was directed by Josh Taft, a childhood friend of Stone Gossard’s who also directed videos for EMF, Stabbing Westward, and Stone Temple Pilots.
“Young man is angry, girl is afraid
She want to get high and he want to get paid
She had to jump up, he had to sit down
When they heard those words about the trouble downtown
He had to shout, she had to cry
He wanted to kill and she wanted to die
Grab for the dial, tune out the fright
But he turns left and she turns right
She look for love songs, he buys the drive
But all they can pull is bad news in tonight”
— Lyrics to City’s Burning
Though, at first listen, this might seem to be just another song about the difficulties of city life, Ann Wilson has said that the song was actually inspired by the death of John Lennon. The song tells the story of a couple who hear about Lennon’s death and who each has a different reaction. The man is angry and wants to take his anger out to the streets. The woman is frightened and wants to deal with it by getting high.
City Burning is one of Heart’s more underrated songs. It peaked at 15 on the U.S. charts but it seems like it should have gone higher. The song’s energy and anger is still relevant today.
The song’s popularity was probably not helped by this pedestrian music video. The weird pixilation at the start of the video is especially distracting. Of course, in 1982, music videos were still relatively new and bands like Heart, that were formed long before the creation of MTV, were still figuring out how to present themselves visually. As primitive as this video looks, it’s not that different from a lot of the videos that came out in 1982.
This song was originally used in the film Reality Bites. The film’s co-star, Ethan Hawke, was a friend of Lisa Loeb’s and he brought the song to the attention of director Ben Stiller. Hawke would then go on to direct the music video for Stay. This was not only Lisa Loeb’s first music video but it was also Ethan Hawke’s directorial debut. Filmed in a SoHo loft, the video featured not only Lisa Loeb but also Ethan Hawke’s cat.
In retrospect, this music video is probably best known for drummer Chad Gracey wandering around in the background while the rest of the band performed the song. Beavis and Butthead speculated that Gracey forgot to bring his drums to the video shoot and that…
Well, why take it from me when you can hear it from the boys themselves?
To the band’s credit, they actually had a sense of humor about the whole thing and, in fact, later credited Beavis and Butthead for helping to make the song a hit. That’s quite a contrast to the reaction that some artists — *cough* Kip Winger *cough* — had to being featured on the show.
The song rocks, by the way!
A common misconception about this song is that it’s about the police. Instead, the song is about the slow response time of paramedics responding to emergency calls in black neighborhoods. The video makes this clear, featuring paramedics arriving late after someone has a heart attack and a seizure.
911 is a Joke was the 3rd single to be released off of Fear of a Black Planet. It was also Public Enemy’s second song to reach number one on the rap charts, following Fight The Power. Despite the song’s popularity, it was not regularly played on the radio and MTV rarely aired the song’s video. In 1990, criticizing 911 was still too controversial for the mainstream to touch.
While watching this video, keep an eye out for Samuel L. Jackson playing a worried father.
Sometimes, I feel like R.E.M. is the forgotten great band of the 80s and 90s. They produced hit after hit and their songs were both catchy and intelligent but, after the band called it quits in 2011, it’s almost as if people have forgotten about just how great they were. Maybe it’s because they were so catchy and radio-friendly that people seem to overlook the fact that their music epitomized two decades.
Turn You Inside-Out is one of my favorite R.E.M. songs. The video is simple but effective. Michael Stipe gets to show off his moves. This video was directed by painter and filmmaker James Herbert. This was the ninth video that he directed for R.E.M. Sometimes a video director and a band just click and that appears to be the case with R.E.M. and Herbert.
Supposedly, this song was written about a runaway that Michael Hutchence had befriended and who he wanted to protect in a platonic way. However, when the song was released in the United States, it was selected to be the theme song of an eating disorder awareness campaign and the music video, directed by Mark Pellington, reflects that.
Mark Pellington, of course, should be a familiar name. He directed music videos for just about everyone was relevant in the 90s. He also directed the film Arlington Road, which feels more prescient every day.