Music Video of the Day: Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes (1981, dir by Russell Mulcahy)

110 years ago today, Bette Davis was born in Lowell, Massachusetts.  That makes the choice for today’s music video of the day an easy one.

Bette Davis Eyes was originally written in 1974 by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon and was recorded by DeShannon.  However, it wasn’t until 1981, when the song was covered by Kim Carnes, that Bette Davis Eyes became a hit.  It spent nine weeks at the top of the Billboard 100 and was named Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards.

One fan of the song was Bette Davis herself, who sent a note to Weiss, DeShannon, and Carnes in which she thanked them for making her “a part of modern times.”  Davis also said that her grandson never looked up to her until he heard this song.

The video was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who directed several music videos in the early 80s.  The famous silhouette of Davis smoking can be spotted throughout.


Music Video of the Day: Night Boat by Duran Duran (1983, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

I meant to do this video a few days ago, but I’ve been a zombie lately, including today–pun intended.

From the Duran Duran wiki:

“It is possible that the video is a homage to the Italian horror film Zombi 2, with settings and zombies that look very much like the ones in the film.”

That is exactly what I thought of when I started it. This video screams “Italian horror film.” The shot below that shows up within the first ten seconds immediately made me think of Italian horror.

It took me awhile to recall what movie that shot was reminding me of. It’s Come And Out Play (2012). That was a remake of the Spanish film Who Can Kill A Child? (1976). Italian. Spanish. It’s all the same in this context. A good example is Amando de Ossorio’s film Zombi 8 (1975).

From IMDb

You can read Lisa’s review of it here.

The lines that Simon Le Bon speaks are part of a speech that Mercutio delivers in Romeo And Juliet. It’s probably there because it announces to the audience that there is something wrong with him in addition to everything else.

As for the similarities to Zombie/Zombi 2/Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979), I only watched the movie for the first time the other day. It does bear some resemblance to it. On a superficial level, I would think of that movie. I would also think of The Blind Dead films, as well other Lucio Fulci horror movies. The following shots remind me of both City Of The Living Dead (1980) and Zombie (1979).

City Of The Living Dead (1980, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Zombi (1980, dir. Lucio Fulci)

The zombies bear a resemblance to the ones in Zombie.

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

We also get a cameo appearance from the Caribbean crabs since this video was shot in Antigua and the island sequences of Zombie were shot a bit west in Santa Domingo.

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Even the Night Boat itself ties back to Zombie. The beginning of Zombie starts with a boat, not too dissimilar from the one Le Bon leaves on, arriving in New York City with a zombie onboard so that Fulci could have zombies walking on the Brooklyn bridge at the end of the movie while drivers below go about their day.

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Zombie (1979, dir. Lucio Fulci)

This is possibly my new favorite Duran Duran music video. It’s the complete opposite of Rio. There’s nothing glamorous about this. It’s just stylish. They even worked in references to Rio.

Rio by Duran Duran (1982)

Rio by Duran Duran (1982)

The boat is a reference too. And, what is her name this time, Le Bon?

She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomi
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.


Music Video of the Day: Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler (1983, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

I wanted to hold off on this video till later, but the sun and the moon made other plans. So, let’s go through it.

Why is Bonnie here in the first place?

Is the bird practicing to be thrown later?

Swinging lamps…

on loan from Harden My Heart by Quarterflash.

Harden My Heart (1981)

It’s safe to look at Total Eclipse Of The Heart…

but don’t look at the total eclipse of the sun today with the naked eye, or you could end up like this guy.

Doors also on loan from Harden My Heart.

Harden My Heart (1981)

It’s a Russell Mulcahy video. You can usually be assured that his videos will contain metaphoric liquids and/or homoerotic imagery.

Is this the same bird from earlier?

The Reflex!

The Reflex by Duran Duran (1984)

The Reflex by Duran Duran (1984)

It was nice of Godfrey Ho to let Mulcahy borrow some ninjas.

Gentlemen, welcome to The Skulls.

Another thing from Harden My Heart.

Harden My Heart (1981)

Since both videos were filmed in Holloway Sanitarium, I like to think that while Bonnie was upstairs, Ozzy Osbourne was being chased around the basement by a werewolf for Bark At The Moon.

The Judas Priest dancers reaching for Bonnie.

And Bonnie’s reaction…to the entire video.

There’s more Harden My Heart in here, but I choose to show this person upside-down instead.

Definitely Mulcahy.


The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981)

I love that they almost missed Bonnie with the altar boy.

Exactly how many birds is he supposed to have? We could see some others earlier, and there are a few behind him. Does he just wait around to throw them at people who pass by?

Wild Boys cameo

The Wild Boys by Duran Duran (1984)

Then Bonnie is rescued by an angel from the clutches of Mulcahy.

Or is she?

In reality, it was a bit of both.

Here’s what Mulcahy had to say about this video in the book, I Want My MTV:

I collaborated on the storyboard for Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with Jim Steinman, who wrote and produced the song. Jim is fabulously, fabulously crazy. We would banter ideas over a bottle of red wine. I’d say, “Let’s set it in a school and have ninjas in one scene,” and he’d say “Let’s have a choirboy with glowing eyeballs.” We shot it in an old abandoned insane asylum in London. We had one sequence, which was Steinman’s idea, where a shirtless young boy is holding a dove and he throws it at the camera in slow motion. Bonnie came around the corner and screamed, in her Welsh accent, “You’re nothing but a fucking pre-vert!” And she stormed off.

There was nothing perverse intended. The imagery was meant to be sort of pure. Maybe slightly erotic and gothic and creepy, but pure. Anyway, the video went to number one, and a year later Bonnie’s people rang up and asked if I would direct her new video. And I told them to fuck off, because I was insulted about being called a fucking pervert. And I was a little mad because pervert wasn’t pronounced correctly.

So the bird throwing kid was Steinman’s idea. Interesting. Perhaps her comment is why he isn’t shirtless in the video.

I wonder what video Bonnie’s people wanted him to come back to direct a year later. I ask because the video for Faster Than The Speed Of Night, which came out the same year, puts a kid throwing a dove to shame.

Faster Than The Speed Of Night (1983)

Needless to say, regardless of their falling out, this kind of video became Bonnie Tyler’s thing for awhile.

Holding Out For A Hero (1984)

If mvdbase is to believed, she even got Jim Steinman back to co-direct If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man). It’s something you’d hardly notice if you watch the video.

If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man) (1986)

If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man) (1986)

If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man) (1986)

I’m glad she followed up Total Eclipse Of The Heart with similar videos. The songs are great, and the videos make them unforgettable.

Enjoy the eclipse!

30 Days Of Surrealism:

  1. Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
  3. The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
  4. Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
  5. Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
  6. Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)
  7. The Look Of Love by ABC (1982, dir. Brian Grant)
  8. Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol (1984, dir. David Mallet)
  9. Somebody New by Joywave (2015, dir. Keith Schofield)
  10. Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (1982, dir. Dick Maas)
  11. Schism by Tool (2001, dir. Adam Jones)
  12. Freaks by Live (1997, dir. Paul Cunningham)
  13. Loverboy by Billy Ocean (1984, dir. Maurice Phillips)
  14. Talking In Your Sleep by The Romantics (1983, dir. ???)
  15. Talking In Your Sleep by Bucks Fizz (1984, dir. Dieter Trattmann)
  16. Sour Girl by Stone Temple Pilots (2000, dir. David Slade)
  17. The Ink In The Well by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
  18. Red Guitar by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
  19. Don’t Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1985, dir. Jeff Stein)
  20. Sweating Bullets by Megadeth (1993, dir. Wayne Isham)
  21. Clear Nite, Moonlight or Clear Night, Moonlight by Golden Earring (1984, dir. Dick Maas)
  22. Clowny Clown Clown by Crispin Glover (1989, dir. Crispin Glover)
  23. Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden (1994, dir. Howard Greenhalgh)

Music Video of the Day: Tonight I’m Yours (Don’t Hurt Me) by Rod Stewart (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

If you want something dark and serious, then I point you to yesterday’s A Movie A Day post that Jedadiah wrote. I’m not doing that today.

Yesterday, I did the apparently famous, but still obscure version of The Tide Is High by Blondie, where Debbie Harry rolls around on a circular pink bed. Since I brought that to people’s attention, then I might as well do the batshit Rod Stewart video that is Tonight I’m Yours (Don’t Hurt Me).

The video starts normally enough. It’s a song for a night on the town, so we’re getting some shots of the city.

Oh, that’s clever. It’s a much better way to introduce the song and artist than superimposed text.

I guess we’re going down to this pool. That looks like Stewart down there.

Ah, it is Stewart.

Some women in the pool. Makes sense. The video needs some sex appeal for people who aren’t attracted to Stewart.

What’s going on here? Is she head-banging to Rod Stewart?

Why is she getting out of the pool in a scuba outfit?

Do I even want to know what is happening here?

I’m beginning to think that they hired a bunch of women, brought out racks and boxes of stock outfits, and told them to just pick whatever feels right–then ad-libbed a lot of the video. This lady seems to have really gotten into the dominating teacher role. Back into the pool for you!

I think this guy fell in the pool during filming.

Did a fight actually break out on set during filming? Did they think that would be funny? Was this planned?

These two picked out the slumber party outfits. I’m really glad they came with pillows. Otherwise you could try to explain this as two lesbians having a night out who happened to hear the party going on outside. With the pillows there, we are assured that this is yet another thing that makes no sense.

I see nothing odd about this though.

A little Old Hollywood musical bit.

The lady with the piano leg looks like the most planned out part of this video.

And this looks like the least planned part of the video to me. I’m pretty sure she had no direction, so she just started shaking a tree.

Is this some kind of an orgy?

This lady is the one who has me convinced the outfits were picked out at random. Why would there be a detective here? She shows up in several shots as if she’s spying on them.

I could probably list drugs as a co-director on this video, couldn’t I?

Speaking of drugs, here’s what Songfacts says:

The video did well on MTV, which was new at the time and had no choice but to play lots of Rod Stewart videos, since he made so many. It was directed by Russell Mulcahy and shot at the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles, where scores of beautiful women are scene larking about in and around the pool and on the balconies as the band performs.

According to Mulcahy, Stewart had a little too much fun the night before and didn’t want to do the video. Mulcahy told him he was going to shoot the video with or without him, so he found the strength to do it.

That explains why Stewart looks worn out. It also explains a fair amount of the craziness. It’s not hard to imagine taking Stewart and the band out of the video, and still having something that works.

Paul Flattery produced the video, and while I’m sure he has some stories to tell, I want hear from Peter Lippman. He was the production manager.

There’s rarely anything useful in the comments section on a music video. The following is an exception:

Kind of geeky comment, but this video would be a hell of a lot easier to film today with the new drone technology!

I haven’t come across a wilder Rod Stewart video…yet.


Music Video of the Day: Talk To Ya Later by The Tubes (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

By the time you read this, I will probably be having a tube put down my throat to measure pressure caused by my esophagus. I might also have another that I have to wear for 24 hours as I try to stress test my body’s acid reflux. This should be an interesting couple of days. I probably won’t get back to these posts for a little while. Since there are tubes involved, I might as well do another music video by The Tubes.

I already mentioned it back when I did She’s A Beauty, but The Tubes helped get MTV on their feet. This video was in heavy rotation on MTV. It wasn’t on the radio. Yet, they found out that in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they had a high concentration of cable subscribers, The Tubes were selling in record stores. This gave MTV evidence that their network could sell records.

Since last time I didn’t quote the section about this from the book, I Want My MTV, here it is:

Bob Pittman [one of the founders of MTV]: We needed to be very scientific about the impact MTV was having on the record industry. So I sent John Sykes and Tom Freston to Tulsa, Oklahoma. And one night, Sykes and Freston called me very excited. They’d been to a record store, and the store had suddenly sold out of the Tubes, and we were the only people playing the Tubes, so it had to be because of us. We had our first evidence that MTV was selling records.

Songfacts also tells this story:

This was the song that proved the power of MTV to sell records. The network launched on August 1, 1981, and “Talk To Ya Later” was in hot rotation. Very few radio stations played the song (or anything by The Tubes) in America, but a few months after MTV went on the air, Tubes records were selling out in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time, you couldn’t get MTV in New York or Los Angeles, but lots of people had cable in Tulsa and the cable system carried it. Local radio wasn’t playing The Tubes, so MTV was the only explanation for the sales surge. The network used this information to convince record companies that they had to make music videos (delivered to MTV free of charge, of course) to promote their artists, and many did.

When you go to listen to the video, then you’ll hear something weird. For some reason, the volume is low for awhile, and then goes up for no reason that I could figure out. I have no idea if that was intentional, or a mistake made when they put this video up.

I don’t want to talk about Russell Mulcahy for the umpteenth time. The song speaks for itself, and the video sets the story in a chaotic TMZ-like fashion. My favorite part of the video is the insertion of stills that are cut into the video–a moment that people will see, but without context.

Hopefully, this whole thing won’t be too hard, and I can get back to these posts sooner rather than later.


Music Video of the Day: The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

It was practically unavoidable to do at least one, if not more Russell Mulcahy videos on here during this run of surreal/weird music videos. I could probably fill all 30 days by just doing Russell Mulcahy, Anton Corbijn, Steve Barron, and Richard Casey videos.

I have no idea what to say about this one. I knew the name Ultravox, but this is probably my first song of there’s that I’ve listened to. This video seems to have just about everything Mulcahy could of thrown into it.

Hands reaching out to grab you through the walls.

A giant fan.

A disorienting floor.

Frightened bisected swimmers in sand.

Playing with gravity.

Seeing as it is Russell Mulcahy, there’s liquids.

Lots of liquid.

Just watch it. There’s other stuff in it as well.

Lexi Godfrey produced the video. Godfrey seems to have only produced about 15 videos. The ones we’ve done so far are pretty good. She also produced A View To A Kill by Duran Duran, Rockit by Herbie Hancock, this one, Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles, and one of the versions of Bohemian Rhapsody.


30 Days Of Surrealism:

  1. Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)

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.