Music Video of the Day: Only The Lonely by The Motels (1982, dir. Russell Mulcahy)


I don’t know how long, or how I did it, but for a long time I thought this song, and Only The Lonely by Roy Orbison were the same song. If that isn’t dumb enough for you, my parents also used to watch the movie Only The Lonely (1991) when I was a kid, which prominently featured the Orbison song. Also, my mom is a big Orbison fan, so I grew up listening to his music. I guess that means it shouldn’t come as any surprise that it took till high school before I realized that when people were saying “ultimatum”, they weren’t saying “old tomato”.

Still, I am surprised it took me this many Mulcahy videos before I started noticing things he likes using. We get several of them in Only The Lonely. First, the use of tables.

Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran (1982)

Second, liquids used as metaphors.

The Reflex by Duran Duran (1984)

The Reflex by Duran Duran (1984)

The Reflex by Duran Duran (1984)

The Reflex by Duran Duran (1984)

Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler (1983)

She Loved Like Diamond by Spandau Ballet (1982)

She Loved Like Diamond by Spandau Ballet (1982)

The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981)

He really seems to like liquids and tables. Finally, we get the most obvious–isolation. In Only The Lonely, it’s the person wandering around a place that may or may not be filled with people, but the person is alone regardless.

Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler (1983)

We also get a repeat of the ending of Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes.

Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes (1981)

Lead-singer Martha Davis won a Best Performance in a Music Video for this at the American Music Awards. The song also did well, but it looks like their biggest hit was Suddenly Last Summer, which also has its own music video. The band is still around today under the name of Martha Davis and The Motels.

The video was shot by Andrew Dintenfass, edited by Doug Dowdle, and produced by Jackie Adams. In other words, the usual crew you would expect on a Mulcahy video.

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Allentown by Billy Joel (1982, dir. Russell Mulcahy)


I know I have already done two Billy Joel music videos this year, but I opened my big mouth and brought up this one up a couple of posts ago. I figure I’d get it over with now.

Even though I burst through a bunch of the book I Want My MTV when I first got it, I’ve slowed down significantly, and I’m still stuck at the part where people are telling stories of drugs, alcohol, blow jobs, shrooms, cocaine, and even using a penis to sing a Rolling Stones song. I’m not joking about that last one. I’ll get to that Van Halen music video eventually. The point is that I am still stuck in the period numerous people in the book refer to as the Old West with lunatics running the asylum.

I bring that up because this music video has become notorious in the past decade or so for being one of the most homoerotic music videos of the early 1980s. People interviewed in the book bring up that this was a highly experimental period for music videos. That’s how you get crazy music videos like Anger Is My Middle Name by Thor. It’s also how you got Huey Lewis & The News singing to a woman in a bed who must be an incredibly heavy sleeper (Do You Believe In Love). Lewis thought it was ridiculous, but it was hit, so he figured that if that was what people wanted, then that would be their thing. That’s how we got things like Huey becoming Frankenstein’s Monster, The News getting decapitated, Huey finding a Lumiere brothers film behind a door at a party, and a sand shark trying to eat a family, among other things.

So, you take a highly experimental time when people were trying all sorts of things with some people deliberately making nutty music videos, and you wind up not being able to real say that this music video was intentionally homoerotic. Considering all the early music videos I have seen, I think not. One of the early appeals of MTV was that then exotic acts like ABC were suddenly being broadcast in the midwest.

Back then there seemed to be two masters of music videos. You had the women who were at the high-level because the music industry was largely a man’s game, but music videos had to be made, so they pawned the job off on women. Russell Mulcahy is basically the father of the modern music video. He tried all sorts of things. A good example being Total Eclipse Of The Heart for Bonnie Tyler. I think the stuff that is homoerotic was put in because it seemed to fit, and they were trying things no matter how crazy they seemed.

The most interesting part about this music video to me is that while it does have the mostly naked guys, the construction workers, and the unnecessary dancers at the end, it still is a good representation of what Billy Joel’s song is about. Even the homoerotic parts fit just fine into Joel’s intended message until you get to the end. I think the dancers at the end were probably choreographer Kenny Ortega’s idea to go with the whole thing looking like a play rather than reality.

Why the guy in white briefs? You got me. I get why there’s the guy in black briefs throwing the guitar around him in Faster Than The Speed Of Night. Bonnie Tyler’s best music videos are filled with what people perceive as binary, and sexual orientation is just another one of those things. They could have left out the white briefs guy. That just doesn’t have any reason I can think of to be there.

In summary, I suggest you watch the music video three times. The first time watch it how it was intended. The second time watch it for the homoerotic material. The third time combine the two to find that it still comes together.

Jackie Adams was the producer on the music video. You might recall her as the producer of both Rio for Duran Duran and Pressure by Billy Joel.

Doug Dowdle was the editor on the music video. He did a mix of editing, directing, and writing for music videos. He apparently even directed a music video for his own song Burning In Me. We’ll see him again when I finally get around to doing Bonnie Tyler music videos because he directed Holding Out For A Hero.

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Pressure by Billy Joel (1982, dir. Russell Mulcahy)


I’m really not sure what to say about this other than to watch it. It is one of the best music videos I have spotlighted so far. That shouldn’t be a big surprise since it is Russell Mulcahy directing a Billy Joel music video. For whatever reason, Billy Joel’s music videos are some of the best I have seen. Russell Mulcahy is an excellent director of music videos. It’s a winning combination.

I guess there are two things I want to make particular note of in the music video. First, is that it uses a modified version of the training montage from The Parallax View (1974) at the beginning. The second thing is that I love how Mulcahy used water and liquids in general as something that not only builds up pressure when attempts to contain it are made, but also as something that can consume you if you cannot handle pressure as the song says. It is much like the television that winds up capturing the kid within it since it is also a source of pressure along with magazines and other mass media.

This is another one of those music videos where we know more than just the director.

Andrew Dintefass was the cinematographer on Pressure. He shot a few other music videos with Russell Mulcahy, some other music videos, and did a few other things as well.

Doug Dowdle edited Pressure. He also edited, directed, and wrote a few music videos.

Keith Williams wrote Pressure. He wrote over 60 music videos, which includes a bunch of Russell Mulcahy ones. I found an IMDb entry that I am pretty sure is him and includes numerous producer credits.

Jackie Adams was the producer of Pressure. She seems to have exclusively produced music videos directed by Russell Mulcahy.

I love when I come across a music video that has this much documentation available.

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Rio by Duran Duran (1982, dir. Russell Mulcahy)


Would you believe that until a week or so ago I didn’t know we had an Olympics coming up? I only realized it because the Diet Coke cans I pulled out of the fridge had changed and had the rings on them. This is seriously my life. So is trying to figure out how to talk about a Russell Mulcahy masterpiece that everyone has seen.

I’m going to go ahead and call it now. Russell Mulcahy is the father of the music video. They existed before he started making them sure. There were films going back to at least the 1940s that were essentially music videos hung on a clothesline plot. I’m watching this music video over and over while I write this, and I have yet to see a single shot that isn’t perfectly done. The angles, the use of iris shots, split screens, the incredible use of color, and everything I’m seeing in every frame is perfect. The music video even goes into black and white widescreen as if you have suddenly stepped into The Longest Day (1962). I love the two guys playing the sax–Nick Rhodes and John Taylor–who are paired via a split-screen. There’s also the part where we think he is going to slip on a banana peel, but he misses it only to be hit by a giant bowling ball. I can only imagine being alive in 1982, turning on MTV, and seeing this. This was probably the first exposure most people had to a truly well-made short film that happened to be built around a song. It certainly would have been for a child who was lucky enough to have cable in 1982. My first exposure was Hungry Like The Wolf, but that’s another Duran Duran/Russell Mulcahy collaboration we’ll get to eventually.

This is one of those music videos where we know more than just the director. Jackie Adams produced this music video. She seems to have worked with Mulcahy on a total of five music videos, and made an appearance in Mama by Spice Girls. Those music videos range from something surreal like Billy Joel’s Pressure that starts off with a version of The Parallax View (1974) training montage to something simple like Only The Lonely by The Motels. By the way, what the heck is it with Billy Joel music videos being some of the most interesting and well-made ones that never get enough attention? Just saying that I’m looking at Pressure right now, and it is amazing.

But back in Rio, we have to mention the band itself because Duran Duran are more than just a band that stood around and played their song in this music video. This is an embodiment of their music and style. As I’m sure you all know by now, Duran Duran are a group of guys from the UK who came over to the US bringing style over substance synthpop with very well-crafted songs. We mentioned synthpop when we spoke about Ministry. I contend that we had style over substance with Duran Duran. We then made it substantive with Depeche Mode, but it was still quite radio friendly, and hadn’t shed the legacy of groups like Duran Duran. Then we had Ministry forced to try and be like them, but then had them turn to something very much on the fringes before evolving synthpop into industrial metal. Ultimately, we had groups like Nine Inch Nails who came along and broadened it into an almost orchestral sound with industrial rock. At least that’s my excuse for the next four music videos I intend to feature after this one.

Sit back and enjoy this classic music video directed by one of the best in the business with all the style and 80s dripping off your screen while a wonderful Duran Duran song plays.