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A Look Inside I Want My MTV
In their 2011 book I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, authors Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum revisit the “golden age” of music videos, from 1981 to 1992, based on interviews with more than 400 people. As they learned, sometimes bad videos happen to great songs. Here are ten examples.
Psychedelic Furs, "Pretty in Pink" (1984; 1986)
One of the great songs of the ‘80s, but as a video, it’s a two-time dud. The original video, from 1981, was too dreary and claustrophobic to capitalize on MTV’s emerging Anglophilia. Five years later, a new version, rerecorded and re-filmed for the John Hughes movie of the same name, lacked the snarl of the original; Andie, Blaine and Ducky should never have even bothered.
Fleetwood Mac, “Hold Me” (1982)"
Making a video in the desert is sweaty and difficult, especially with a band that can’t stand one another: “It was so hot, and we weren’t getting along,” Stevie Nicks recalls. “Hold Me” is like a sun-baked hallucination, with sand dunes, guitars, Magritte paintings, Nicks in five-inch platform heels, and an obligatory, early-1980s slow-motion shot of breaking glass. Director Steve Barron: “That wasn’t a good video.” Producer Simon Fields: “John McVie was drunk and tried to punch me. It was a [expletive] nightmare, a horrendous day in the desert.”
Rick James, "Super Freak" (1982)
Not long after MTV launched with a nearly all-white playlist, Rick James decried the network as “racist,” charging that MTV’s segregated programming was “taking black people back 400 years.” James was enraged that MTV refused to air “Super Freak”; in fairness to the network, this gully video, starring James and a multiracial array of hot messes in streetwalker garb, was more akin to Pootie Tang than, say, “Billie Jean.” Carolyn Baker, who was MTV's director of acquisitions, says, "As a black woman, I did not want that representing my people as the first black video on MTV."
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message” (1982)
In the concluding scene, two cops arrest Flash and his band mates, possibly for the crime of making this awful video. The lyrics describe and denounce the dangers of urban poverty – so why are these rappers dressed like low-budget Michael Jacksons? “An immortal song, but the video was pure ghetto,” says Def Jam executive Bill Adler. “Some of the earliest rap videos were terrible.”
Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing in the Dark" (1984)
Springsteen is adorably dorky in his first-ever video appearance, no more so than during his infamous new-wave dance-off with audience plant Courtney “Monica Geller” Cox. Directed by famed filmmaker Brian DePalma, “Dancing in the Dark” was catnip to MTV’s teen demo (girls in particular), but Springsteen's longtime manager, Jon Landau, says the singer had "mixed feelings" about the video: "It broadened Bruce's appeal, but the whole thing was slick and high gloss. Not a typical Bruce Springsteen thing."
Prince, "Raspberry Beret" (1985)
For an artist at his zenith in the ‘80s, Prince never quite figured out music videos. “Raspberry Beret” is the most egregious example of Prince-the-control-freak taking a perfectly bad idea--let’s hire two animators to work around the clock on a tale about a girl in a hat!--and making it worse, by taking the twee animation and clumsily combining it with performance footage. Producer Simon Fields: "Prince would mess with directors. He’d give them the impression that they’d be in charge of the video, then halfway through he’d go, 'Thank you,' take what he liked, and edit it himself." Much respect to his Liza Minnelli hairdo, however.
Some of us remember when MTV was truly Music Video Television.
I can easily remember watching Duran Duran's "Planet Earth" and "Girls on Film" and just amazed of how cool they look and wanted to dress like them.
It took me back in the day....and brought back all the great memories I had to go with it!
This book sent me to YouTube like 50 times. Totally awesome dude.Published 3 months ago by William Bryant Rozier
This is a rather fun and breezy oral history. Some people are definitely still bitter, while others are able to find the fun and humor about the "MTV Generation". Read morePublished 4 months ago by David Smith
Loved MTV (back when they and VH1 actually played music videos) the book is very interesting all that went into creating music videos to some great songs.Published 7 months ago by KodaSX
Very good book, great unexpurgated story of MTV, from its founding to anecdotes about bands. Was sorry to finish it! Much better book than "VJ".Published 8 months ago by greengirl66
Fluffy fun if you grew up in the MTV-age, when MTV was still music television. Have YouTube open as you read and go back to look at some of the videos as they are described in this... Read morePublished 8 months ago by cme_atx
A nostalgia-fest for those of us who remember when MTV was actually a music video channel.Published 9 months ago by Melinda
This is a meaty volume with interviews from numerous players during MTVs Golden Years, although some parts are a little bit of a struggle to get through, as though no one knew when... Read morePublished 9 months ago by dweebcentric