Saturday, September 22, 2007

Career Killing Videos

Once upon a time there was this cable channel called MTV. They played videos by music artists looking to promote their songs. The peak period of its power was in the mid to late 80's. If you wanted people to buy your records, you had to make videos. Heck even the Alan Parsons Project made videos.

Now, videos became an art form in and of itself. However like all art, there is bad art. And sometimes art that shocks people enough to kill the careers of those involved. Here are two videos that killed the career of two popular artists of the 80's.

The first one is so infamous it constantly gets made fun of all the time on the Howard Stern show. It's by Billy Squier, a 70's style rocker who filled the niche of those who didn't like new wave or dance pop. He hit it big right before the glam metal types of Motley Crue and Poison. For his video "Rock Me Tonite", he kind of took a step in that direction but chickened out before going full glam make up, instead he came up with the gayest video a straight man could possibly make without knowing it. All pink and pastels, satin sheets and chest baring.


The second video is by Queen. They were huge in the 70's, and are often credited with creating the music video format. Certainly they had their share of arty performance videos before MTV existed. They had huge hits in the early 80's with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Under Pressure" and "Another One Bites The Dust" and after releasing the album "The works" they were on their way to further success. "Radio Gaga" was the first single that had a video that featured scenes from the movie "Metropolis"

The next single released from the album was "I Want To Break Free". They chose to make an elaborate three part video. It was well filmed, with a performance piece in a coal mine like set, a creative ballet performance with Freddie Mercury and the Royal Ballet, and a satirical piece of the British soap opera "Coronation Street". the problem is that Americans, including a 17 year old Scanman didn't get the reference and were disturbed to see a Fully mustached Freddy Mercury in torpedoed bra'ed drag. Actually I was more disturbed to be attracted to Roger Taylor in school girl drag. The video got banned on MTV, probably with the homoeroticism of the ballet piece, but really it's the mustache on Freddy Mercury in drag, (which he shaved off for the ballet piece curiously enough) that's disturbing. Queen's success in America never recovered in Freddie Mercury's lifetime. Too bad because in watching the full video more than twenty years later, reveals it to be wonderful and I get the drag gag.

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