The Sleaze Roxx Top Ten ’80s Videos
Metal Mike here. Time for another “best of” list. But before I get started, this is intended to be an interactive discussion, and not a dictatorship! I’m going to list a bunch of videos and you’re going to tell me I got it all wrong and make up your own list. GREAT! That’s the whole point of lists like these.
I invited Sleaze Roxx editor Olivier to partake in this “best of” list by providing his own fave five. He and I have noticeable differences in taste and era… I think he’s more old-school metal while I prefer the later years of the ’80s decade. It will make the debate much more fun!
So. The point of this list is to highlight the bands in the ’80s that came out with the greatest videos, that most matched the song it was accompanying. We’re not talking about how good the song is, but just how well it’s matched with the designated video, and how creative that match is.
For example, I’d immediately vote for Helix “Wild In The Streets” because it suits the band’s live show perfectly. But that video is not particularly inventive. It’s just a bunch of guys on a stage in a warehouse lip synching to the playback. Hundreds of other bands have done the same before and since, on a way lower budget…. Therefore, I wrote it off. What I’m looking for is edgy stuff that tells me what the band is all about, even with the sound off. Without further ado, and in no particular order…
Metal Mike’s top five ’80s videos:
Bon Jovi’s “Wanted, Dead Or Alive” from Slippery When Wet (1986):
The song itself is heartfelt and touching. Life on the road sucks, even if you are a rock star. The video shows a very tired looking Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora still blasting it out for the fans night after night. The video shows that private jets, limos, and groupies are things to deal with, not something to absorb. “It’s all the same, only the names have changed, every day, it seems we’re wasting away.” Shots of truck stops, lonely highways, and random, nameless cities punctuate that narrative. It almost made me not want to be a rock star…
Music video by Bon Jovi performing Wanted Dead Or Alive. (C) 2003 The Island Def Jam Music Group
Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome To The Jungle” from Appetite for Destruction (1987):
Contrary to most of the misogynistic videos of the time, “Welcome To The Jungle” places Axl Rose in the central role of fresh-off-the-bus naivety. Arriving in Los Angeles full of hopes and dreams, the video shows Axl’s descent into debauchery. Interspersed with fantastic live footage, Axl is shown watching live violence unfold on TV… distant yet engaged… while other band members attempt to corrupt him. Axl’s character learns the phrase “you can have anything you want but you better not take it from me…” Finally, when the breakdown happens, it hits both sonically and visually, with Steven Adler’s drum work, and Axl shown in a straightjacket, forced to watch even more TV. He finally loses it to the “Jungle”. With proper nods to the movie A Clockwork Orange and Megadeth’s video for “Peace Sells”, “Welcome to the Jungle” performs all the way around.
Music video by Guns N’ Roses performing Welcome To The Jungle. (C) 1987 Guns N’ Roses
Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” from 1984 (1984):
“Sit down, Waldo!” In a time when many hard rock acts were taking video production way too seriously, or trying to adhere to pyro and the chained, naked chick formula, Van Halen produced a video that was as fun as the song. Waldo didn’t want to go to school. Kids picked on poor Waldo, including the 14 year old extra that looks shockingly like Alex Van Halen. Shot with a fish eye lens that makes everyone’s nose look big, the black and white opening suddenly transforms into full colour babes in bikinis and a pretty hot teacher. The whole band is in wonderful brown tuxedos and choreographed into a dance during the chorus is hilarious, and poor Waldo gets more confused as his day goes on. It was a tough choice between this video and the equally humourous videos by Twisted Sister – “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock.”
Watch the official music video for “Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen
Ratt’s “Round And Round” from Out Of The Cellar (1984):
“Round And Round” portrays a clear story line. Rich girl wants bad boy rocker playing loud music in the attic. Posh dinner party downstairs where guest (Milton Berle) can’t stand the noise; is clearly offended and leaves. So, “Like Romeo to Juliette, time and time, I’m going to make you mine”, the floor crashes in. Posh dinner ruined, rich girl suddenly loses most of her clothing, dons freaky makeup, and slithers around Ratt like a python waiting to strike. Although this theme may have been explored via music video before, “Round And Round” popularized a template for hundreds of videos to come with the same rich girl/bad boy theme. It seems awkward and dated now, but even this year, I have encountered the same basic concept being horribly regurgitated.
Watch the official video for Ratt’s “Round and Round” released as a single in 1984. It proved to be the biggest hit of Ratt’s career. The song was named one of “VH1: 100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s” and was named one of the best hard rock song of all time also by VH1.
Metallica’s “One” from …And Justice For All (1988):
For many years, fans had been begging for a Metallica video. Until … And Justice For All, the band didn’t want to go there. However, they didn’t count on Justice being the massive hit that it was, so they took advantage with the most user friendly song on the album — “One.” As much as the so-called Black Album launched them into the mainstream, “One” was the springboard. The black and white feel to everything suggests darkness, imprisoning me, absolute horror. Shots of the band separated from one another talk about loneliness. By the way, notice as the song gets progressively heavier, the band members come together around the drum kit. Then there are the constant excerpts from the 1971 movie Johnny Got His Gun. Johnny has been so severely wounded that he’s basically only a head — a functioning brain without a body. The images are stark enough without lyrics pounding home the point, “Now the world is gone, I’m just one, Oh God, help me, Hold my breath as I wish for death, Oh please, God, help me…” “One” is frankly one fucking depressing video, but suits the song like no other.
One [Official Music Video] From the album “…And Justice For All” Director: Bill Pope and Michael Salomon Filmed in December 1988 in Long Beach, CA Video Premiere Date: January 22, 1989 © 1989 Metallica
Olivier’s top five ’80s videos:
Most, if not all, of you do not know but Metal Mike is a fountain of ideas in terms of new concepts or articles for Sleaze Roxx with many really good ones. Metal Mike was his usual creative self and came up with the idea for the Sleaze Roxx Top Ten Videos, which was somewhat tweaked by yours truly. Metal Mike is right that our musical tastes diverge somewhat but there is no denying that the best music videos were made in the mid to late ’80s when MTV was playing metal videos in high rotation and where creativity in terms of videos was likely at its peak. Metal Mike did “steal” one of my picks being Van Halen‘s “Hot For Teacher” but that’s what happens when you come up with the idea and input your top five before the other person can even think about it! The following top five videos are the ones that came to my mind pretty much right off the bat and I admittedly strayed away from Metal Mike‘s above-noted criteria for my last two videos with my focus more on cultural impact for my latter two.
Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” from Stay Hungry (1984):
Twisted Sister revolutionized the video industry with their simply amazing video for “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” Sure, the video suffered from very low budget production just like many videos emanating from the early ’80s but there is no question that the video is hilarious. The scene that makes the video so great really has nothing to do with the song itself or even Twisted Sister. Actor Mark Metcalf simply put on an Oscar winning performance during the video intro as the overbearing controlling military father berating and scolding his young rebel son who was innocently playing guitar along to his favorite Twisted Sister song in his bedroom. That scene sets the tone for the rest of the video when Metcalf‘s plans to foil Twisted Sister come up short time and time again. What the video for “We’re Not Gonna Take It” did better than any other video was put the “kid” versus “parent” issues to the forefront but on the now rather tame topic (but seemingly important at the time) of being able to listen to and play rock n’ roll music.
Watch the official music video for Twisted Sister — We’re Not Gonna Take it [Extended Version]
L.A. Guns’ “Electric Gypsy” video from L.A. Guns (1988):
L.A. Guns‘ video for “Electric Gypsy” is a simple one — film the band members riding some motorcycles in the desert or perhaps more simply somewhere in Las Vegas. But the video was so much more than that. It represented freedom — freedom to ride, freedom to rock, freedom to live as you saw fit. Frankly, it seemed to fit the song “Electric Gypsy” just perfectly. Heavy metal music has long been linked to leather cladded bike riders and L.A. Guns popularized the image except the riding was done with helmet less long hair flowing in the wind while in the hot sun.
Uploaded by Tiger Tailz on 2013-04-29.
David Lee Roth’s “Just A Gigolo” from Crazy From The Heat (1985):
If there was any doubt who was the creative mind behind the brilliant videos that made Van Halen achieve a second diamond certified album in the US alone, Diamond Dave‘s first solo venture Crazy From The Heat with the two very entertaining videos in support sealed the deal. I would have likely picked “Yankee Rose” from David Lee Roth‘s first solo album post-Van Halen ahead of “Just A Gigolo” but since “Yankee Rose” only appears to be available in Spanish format on YouTube, I’ll go with the very entertaining video for “Just A Gigolo.” If anything, the video shows just how creative and looney that Diamond Dave could be although he did not cross the line of simply ridiculous like his 2002 “movie” No Holds Bar-B-Que turned out to be. Roth is at his best here incorporating stereotypes, silliness and sometimes plain goofy in one video. He also pokes fun at some of his ’80s contemporaries including Michael Jackson, Cindy Lauper, Billy Idol and Willie Nelson. Not surprisingly, Van Halen never released another funny video after Roth‘s departure from the band. Apart from the music, there is simply no denying on who brought the fun and creativity to that legendary band!
David Lee Roth – Just a gigolo from Crazy from the heat.
KISS’ “Lick It Up” video from Lick It Up (1983):
Granted, “Lick It Up” is a terrible video. It’s cheesy. It suffers from a low budget. It’s hard to get through. The reason that I am including this video in my top five ’80s videos is for its cultural significance and the big revelation if you will. Yes, the KISS members were finally going to unmask for the public and they chose to do it through a video, which turned out to be “Lick It Up.” I remember seeing the regular news program play a snippet of the video as the local news broadcaster advised that KISS had finally unmasked revealing one rather ugly mug for Gene Simmons (he was the Demon after all) and an energetic more youthful looking Paul Stanley. Too bad that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss could not have stayed in the band a little longer to make KISS‘ unmasking that much more special. But getting back to a local news station broadcasting part of a hard rock / heavy metal band’s music video to its viewers, it just shows that culturally, the KISS juggernaut — even if it had suffered some serious blows in those last few years — was worthy of presumably worldwide attention and KISS chose their “Lick It Up ” video to do so.
Music video by Kiss performing Lick It Up. (C) 1983 The Island Def Jam Music Group
Run-DMC’s “Walk This Way” (featuring Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry) from Raising Hell (1986):
As I searched for the video “Walk This Way” which featured the interesting crossover between heavy metal (Aerosmith) and hip hop (Run-D.M.C.), I forgot that the song actually appeared on Run-D.M.C.‘s Raising Hell album rather than on any Aerosmith album. Run-D.M.C.‘s video for “Walk This Way” is simply brilliant showing the hip hop giants rehearsing in the adjacent room to Aerosmith (or really Tyler and Perry since none of the other Aerosmith members appear in the video) and deciding to turn the volume up while putting their own spin on Aerosmith‘s classic “Walk This Way.” Eventually, the diametrically opposed musical sides merge together in front of an appreciate crowd in a live concert. Not only is it a cool video, it seemingly resurrected Aerosmith‘s musical career.
Run-DMC’s official music video for ‘Walk This Way’ ft. Aerosmith. Click to listen to Run-DMC on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/RUNDMCSpotify?IQid=RunDWTW As featured on Run-DMC: Greatest Hits.