Do people still make music videos? Are all music videos just live performances and YouTube compilations? I don’t know. I can’t even think of the last music video I saw, but I can, with some amount of shame, be about 90% sure it was on VH1 and not MTV. Wait. I take that back. Vevo had a Janelle Monae/Erykah Badu video a while back. Are videos only being made now in the hope of going viral?
Related questions: Am I one of those “older people” who thinks they grew up in the height of some cultural era? Not to brag, but thinking back on my musical history, I am pretty sure I lived in the music video golden age - the age of Michael Jackson videos (Thriller, Remember the Time, anyone?), the Peter Gabriel stop-motion videos*, and, by middle school, the trivia lover's gem that was VH1’s Pop Up Video. (Now would probably be a great place to disclose that the videos I rented the most from Moulton’s VideoTech were Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation (a VHS tape of the videos of all the singles from that album), along with Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and The Jetson’s Movie – to listen to the end credits’ music.)
Okay. Back on track – I’m asking questions because I have vivid memories of early MTV and music videos. Yo! MTV Raps! Alan Hunter. Downtown Julie Brown. All that stuff. And the videos I remember the best are the parody videos of the late 80s and early 90s.
Exhibit 1: The very first music video I remember seeing is Barnes and Barnes’ Fish Heads on Dr. Demento. I remember sitting on the couch at our house in
Nashville, Ed by the TV, and those little fish heads dancing around the perimeter
of the screen. We all thought that the video was hilarious and the “eat them
up, yum!” line still comes up every now and then. I just rewatched it, and now I'm curious about Bill Paxton being the original hipster.
Exhibit 2: Weird Al is pretty amazing, right? So many
excellent parodies, and while I’m sure he’s still making videos (although I haven’t seen
any since Amish Paradise), I want to focus on the excellence of the two first
MJ parodies – Eat It and Fat. SO GOOD. So good. I could probably sing these
songs beginning-to-end based solely on the number of times I watched the
videos. Interesting Would You Rather : If forced, would you rather watch a live VMA performance of the Miley/Thicke Blurred Lines, or Weird Al perform "Fat?" Both aca-awkward!
So now you know the earliest days (and, I guess, most
recent) of my video music history. More on visual media and music next week…but
first I’ll leave you with another video (of the viral variety).
*I learned that Sledgehammer is the most played video in the history of MTV, which gives me hope for humanity.