Top Ten Music Videos of the 80s
Today I compromised my productivity at work by slamming a pot of Folgers coffee and Googling 80s music videos, and I have compiled the following list of the top ten greatest 80s music videos in terms of either their awesomeness or how well they represent that formative decade in my life known as the 80s.
And yes, it was a shitty decade, which explains my all-consuming misanthropy.
10. Toto — “Africa”
Holy shit but this lead singer is a dead ringer for Zach Galifianakis, who needs to do a Between Two Ferns episode with this guy just so that we can confirm that they’re not actually the same person. Secondly, Bad Ronald is apparently playing keyboards. Watch, and enjoy, and don’t pretend that you don’t like this song and that you don’t fantasize about that blazing hot African librarian making love to you amidst those bookshelves because even that awful 80s blouse can’t hide the amazing figure beneath. Also, enjoy the close-ups of the one dude’s sweaty moustache, and I’m not exactly sure how, but this video is totally racist, right?
9. Flock of Seagulls — “I Ran”
Here is the lead singer from Prodigy’s father sporting an equally questionable haircut. With regard to the lyrics, no one thinks that they would meet a girl like this “walking down the avenue.” You would more likely meet a girl like this either at a furry convention, rehab, or possibly a Planned Parenthood in West Hollywood. This is also perhaps the only song to ever use “Aurora Borealis” as a song lyric. And yes, pleated pants were apparently a strong fashion statement in the ’80s.
8. Sade — “Smooth Operator”
Admit it: You love Sade. You know all of the words to this song, and you would forfeit the rest of your life to sleep with Sade if you thought you could, and not just the 1984 Sade shown here but 2015 Sade as well because she hasn’t aged a day. If nothing else, this video should make us all miss the days when a middle-aged man with bad hair could be the object of desire for a woman like Sade so long as he was wearing a bad suit with a red pocket square, and nothing says erotic like seductively caressing an ice bucket. The moral of this one: if you get caught cheating, you’re stuck with your side piece. And yes, that is Gary Busey on congas at second 0:18.
8. Corey Hart — “Sunglasses at Night”
Yep, it was a tie. Unjust, you say? There can only be ten in a top ten, you say? Fuck you, it’s my list, and you are not privy to the complex algorithm that went in to making this top ten list wherein there was a tie for number eight. The point is that wearing sunglasses at night is, despite what you may think, very cool. I actually have no idea what is going on in this video or what the sunglasses are meant to symbolize. Sort of like the 80s as a decade, this is a swing and a miss.
7. Genesis — “Land of Confusion”
This one makes the list because its grotesque and repugnant visuals used to give me nightmares. The entire aesthetic of this video is so distasteful that one feels compelled to cleanse one’s palate with sorbet afterward, but that is why this video is so emblematic of the 80s, which was nothing if not altogether distasteful. There are no more uglier puppets in existence, except perhaps for those in Mac and Me, and the Ronald Reagan puppet is a prescient harbinger of Laura Ingraham’s 2014 face. None to worry, the remaining videos will help you forget this one. Good song, though.
6. Pet Shop Boys — “West End Girls”
Full confession: I really like this song, and I’m pretty sure you do as well. It has a dark, moody atmosphere to it, and if you pay close attention at minute 2:57, you’ll see that this video was shot while Fletch was in theaters. I.e., this shit is hella 80s.
5. Whitesnake — “Here I Go Again”
This one exemplifies the common 80s studio recording practice of “Fuck it, let’s just fade this shit out at the end because we don’t know any other way to end this thing.” This video also represents a young Waukesha, Wisconsin, Patrick’s first glimpse at womanhood, and possibly my first stirrings of lust as a result, even if it is confusing as to what cartwheels and splits on the hoods of Jaguars is meant to imply about her attractiveness, apart from her having been a childhood gymnast and therefore a spiritually and emotionally broken cheap date. So I guess I sort of just answered my own question …
4. Twisted Sister — “I Wanna Rock”
Perhaps the best opening to any music video ever, and yes, the ending is as homoerotic as you believe it is. The FCC required them to use selzer water in the same way that decorum dictated that Ricky Ricardo and Lucille Ball sleep in separate beds. Anyway, I expect you all to headbang along at your desk as you enjoy this one.
3. Ratt — “Round and Round”
Here is our first podium winner, and this is a worthy recipient of your attention. The earlier Genesis video’s attempts at humor were undermined by the altogether vile and disgusting appearance of the puppets, but this video, like the preceding Twisted Sister video, succeeds by not taking itself too seriously and scoring some genuine laughs, especially in the beginning. Best not to dwell too much on why this family wouldn’t be more upset by strange men dressed in leotards who by all appearances have broken in to their home and inhabited their attic to play three-chord rock music. And really, there’s nothing hotter than an upper-class teenage girl with modest breasts who ostensibly turns into a rat.
2. Cinderella — “Shake Me”
So skits were definitely a thing for 80s hair band videos, and hair doesn’t get much bigger than Tom Keifer’s. Say what you will, but Keifer has some pipes, and it may be ’80s hair metal, but Cinderella managed to infuse some whiskey-soaked bluesy riffs into their songs, including this one. Also, try to ignore the fact that they reuse the same cut of the guitarist in blue jump-kicking at both minute 1:48 and 1:51—it’s not like the editor could keep track of every cut in this video what with all the coke that filled the edit bay—it’s actually remarkable that he was able to maintain this video’s overall consistency and not inadvertently splice in clips of Def Leppard, Poison, and Motley Crue throughout. And the moral of this video, ladies: Dress like a whore and stand near the front of the stage and you too can perform fellatio in the backseat of a stretch limousine.
1. Kylie Minogue — “The Loco-motion”
This encompasses—along with Izod Lacoste polo shirts, Members Only jackets, and Knight Rider—my entire memory of the 80s. Images of this video and ear worms of this song’s melody are as much a part of my 80s childhood as the Challenger explosion, and they are as equally disturbing. This is worthy of the number one spot for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it confirms my earlier assertion that the 80s were complete and utter shit because how else can you explain the fact that Kylie Minogue is hotter 14 years later in her videos for both “Love at First Sight” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head“? There is no explanation other than the fact that only the 80s could render even Kylie Minogue the equivalent of the hottest girl at a Minnesota Foot Locker as opposed to the perfect 10 in the aforementioned later videos. This video is only sexy if you favor heat-damaged hair, bad lip-syncing, and unsynchronized dance choreography, and by the way: The fact that “The Loco-motion” was a saccharine-sweet pop ditty is revealing about just how naive the 80s really were when one considers that this was a cover of a 60s song that now calls to mind a sex act typically performed under duress during an MDMA-fueled Michigan frat party.