I LIKE MUSIC VIDEOS
I like music videos. I don’t mean just lame concert footage videos either. (I get it, Band, you can play your instruments like, really well. In front of people!) No, I mean the amazing, overblown, explosions and nonsensical storylines, holy shit is that a cameo by jailbait Keri Russell in bra?!, looks like it was directed by Michael Bay, epic mini-movies. In fact, Meat Loaf’s, “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” has pretty much all of the aforementioned, except one. I won’t say which one, just look it up*. It is the most amazing seven minutes ever. Except for the part where he prays to the god of, “Sex, and drums, and rock’n’roll.” Come on, now, you’re not fooling anyone.
The other night I couldn’t sleep. So I ended up watching music videos until the sun came up. I did not have a good day that day. Of course, I watched metal videos. (Okay fine, like half were Meat Loaf videos. He kind of hovers on the periphery of metal, right? He was in Rocky Horror Picture Show, he played a totally awesome biker named Eddie! Isn’t his daughter married to Scott Ian? Fringes, he’s on the fringes. Shut up, Meat Loaf is awesome. Even more so when I can’t type and write “Meat Load.” Good job proof-reading at 5:40 a.m.)
Videos were my first introduction to many bands. They were like trailers for records, and the more confusing and “deep” they were, the more interested I got. I’m not saying there are no good videos anymore, but I just can’t believe we live in a time where it’s no longer cool to shred shirtless on a cliff while your bandmate gets married but then it starts raining and the bride is dead and Axl Rose is swimming with dolphins while Stephanie Seymour beats up a girl in a bar. I mean, maybe it’s a good thing bands don’t go bankrupt after videos anymore. and the Guns N’ Roses trilogy more than borders on the ridiculous (Hi Shannon Hoon! I see you, there on the roof!) but let’s take a look at some that kind of stuck with me.
I didn’t get into Metallica and Megadeth until later on in my young life, because that’s the music the big kids on the school bus would listen to, and they intimidated me. But Metallica videos would be on all the time, and up until literally right now, I thought that the video for “Hero of the Day” was the reason why I can’t handle anything with more than eight legs. For some reason, I had it in my head that gross centipede-like creatures kept crawling out of the kid in the video’s ears — but watching it now, I can see that it’s a weird bird robot. I must be mixing it up with another video, but huh. I could’ve sworn… anyway, over eight legs, not cool. Up to eight I’m fine with, I’m the designated spider killer (fa fa-fa fa fa fa-fa fa better run, run run awaaaay) in my house, but once we exceed eight, that’s when we’re in screaming-like-a-girl-flailing-like-an-epileptic territory.
I remember Megadeth videos being all being dark, scary, and “grown up,” with pretty heavy messages delivered by that scowling ginger. Now, I can’t watch the “Peace Sells” video without cracking up, because it reminds me of the Brian Posehn parody (“THIS IS THE NEWS!”). But in the battle between Megadeth and Metallica, I ended up in the side of Megadeth. I liked the songs more, the videos kept my interest (Oooo, aliens! Motorcycles! French! I can actually understand that!), and if I ever have to listen to “Nothing Else Matters” again, I will fly into a murderous rage. Seriously, that song, with its shitty, boring video, was on for about five years straight.
I feel the same way about the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as I do about “Nothing Else Matters.” I don’t like Nirvana, I never liked Nirvana, and I never will like Nirvana. I was sadder when Kevin Dubrow of Quiet Riot died. Videos contributed greatly to my never, ever, ever embracing grunge. Take a shower, have a Xanax, and make an effort.
There used to be a weekly metal show on VH1, which would sneakily slip in Soundgarden videos every so often (ugh). It wasn’t so much a show as two and a half hours of videos, though, and every week, with no exceptions, they would show at least one King Diamond video and one Warlock video. Warlock gave me Doro Pesch, who is still the coolest lady in metal, even surpassing my namesake, Ms. Lita Ford (her duet with Nikki Sixx almost had me write them off for good). And King Diamond, well, you really can’t say anything bad about the King. King Diamond videos have three main elements; they must be shot in blue light, they must have foreboding hooded figures looking foreboding, and they must show snowy landscapes at night. (Now, these requirements are de rigeur for every death metal video out there.) I’ve got “Sleepless Night” all synced up to go right now, seeing as how it’s 4:36 a.m. and I’m still awake, and — HAHAHA, the first shot is of hooded figures.
Hair metal videos are usually concert footage with close-ups of slutty babes and/or the band, and while slutty babes do have their appeal, I don’t know, I just get tired of them after awhile. It’s like that Poison video where Brett wakes up next to a slutty babe, but he just doesn’t care anymore because his life is still meaningless and roses still have thorns, and he’s still in a band with C.C. DeVille. But when a hair metal band makes an actual video — my God, they’re like the idiot savants of the medium. Take, for instance, Cinderella’s “Shake Me.” It starts out with two evil stepsister twins mocking the “ugly” sister for not being able to go to the Cinderella concert. After they sexily flounce off, the ugly one (who, as you might have guessed, is actually hot once she gets out of those dowdy clothes) looks at her Cinderella record sadly, but hold up! The song’s intro keeps looping, the band on the cover start moving, she’s… she’s onstage with them at the concert! The concert is sold out, and the sexy evil twins can’t get in no matter how much they feel up the security guy! The rest of the video is actually concert footage, lest we forget the band’s slutty babe magnetism. But in the end, Un-Hot Hot Girl gets in the limo with the band right in front of her wicked stepsisters. Ah, that’s the dream; get in an enclosed space with Tom Keifer.
It wasn’t a video that introduced me to Motorhead, but it was TV. Growing up, I used to watch re-runs of this old British TV show called The Young Ones. It was about these four guys living in a house together; a punk, a poser anarchist ‘80s version of a hipster, a hippie, and, for lack of a better description, a con artist. My favorite was, surprise, surprise, Vyvyan Basterd, the violent punk med student with his denim jacket that had “Very Metal” spelled out in studs. Each episode featured a different band randomly appearing and playing a song, and that’s where I first heard “Ace of Spades.” (The same show also introduced me to The Damned) I thought it was brilliant; fast and growly and with legitimately cool dudes, and, whoa — what the fuck is on that man’s face!?
And now we come to the one that started it all, Iron Maiden’s “Can I Play With Madness.” I can unhesitatingly say that watching this video when I was 14-15 was what “officially” got me into metal. I remember standing when it came on a classic rock show or something and being virtually frozen in place and going, “WHAT IS THIS, I MUST HAVE IT!” You can’t beat crotchety Graham Chapman yelling at students in an abbey. Buying the album was pretty memorable, too. I’ve always looked young for my age, so the cashier at the music shop probably thought I was like ten, and I may have had pigtails, which only worsened my youthful appearance. I’ve never seen eyebrows shoot that high.
Ah me, confusing men for over twenty years. I’ll be here all night ladies and gentlemen. Next up, Dokken’s, “Sleepless Night.” I have a theme going. Let’s see if Don’s wig is as obvious as I remember.
*Oh, fine. The Keri Russell cameo is the odd one out in the Meat Loaf video. But the rest are all in there, including Michael Bay’s direction. She is in Bon Jovi’s video “Always,” though — as is scantily clad Carla Gugino. You’re welcome, pervs.