(insert pithy rejoinder here)

When Bad Videos Happen to Good Musicians

The advent of Mtv was both a blessing and a curse for me as a kid. Once musicians had the ability to act in their videos, they somehow felt the need to put on a show as opposed to simply performing their songs. Sometimes, as was the case with Billy Idol, it turned out to be a good thing. I remember as a kid sitting transfixed in front of the television whenever REBEL YELL came on, staring at the screen and thinking some very, very grown-up thoughts about this bleach-blonde wonder. And who can forget THRILLER? I remember exactly where I was the first time I watched that video. I can do the dance to this day.

Sadly, not all my experiences were as positive as the ones I’ve mentioned. Not every singer is a star, as music video history has shown us. I’ve dredged up some memories (and hit the YouTube) for a sample of some of the worst offenders. It’s time to buckle in folks, because this is going to be painful. We start our list of bad videos that happened to good musicians with:

KISS – LICK IT UP

I brought a KISS lunch box to the first day of kindergarten, that’s how big a fan I was as a kid. You can appreciate my shock and horror the first time I was subjected to…well, whatever the hell this is. I still haven’t forgiven them.

Damn Yankees – HIGH ENOUGH

The next video is every bit as tragic as the previous one because it features the cataclysmic crash and burn of one of rock’s best guitar legends: Ted Nugent. That’s right, Mr. Cat Scratch Fever himself joined a band who called themselves Damn Yankees- a band that can only be described as having all the raw sex appeal of the Traveling Wilburys, minus the badassery. Click play and see for yourself. The only thing in a Stranglehold in this video are Ted’s balls, clenched tightly in the fist of whomever he sold them out to.

David Bowie – CHINA GIRL

I imagine Bowie fans will come down on me for the next offering, but I will stand my ground. Yes, David Bowie is known for being unconventional and avante guarde, so the oddness of this video should come as no surprise. I contend that it is the utter lack of Bowiesque influence that bothers me most. It’s as if he’s trying to reinvent himself as a lounge singer. Not what I expected from Major Tom. And don’t get me started on the creepy pedophilic vibe running throughout this epic disaster.

David Bowie & Mick Jagger – DANCING IN THE STREET

It seems that whatever Bowie touched in the 80’s turned to musical “Meh,” as demonstrated in this technicolor nightmare featuring the once great Mick Jagger. This video is what I imagine homely girls do for fun at sleepovers. And…now I have no more followers.

Van Halen – TATTOO

This next one may be a bit controversial, since I am not entirely sure this song was good to begin with. It’s the rocking out on the down beat that does it in for me. On the flip side, it’s good to see Carol Channing getting steady work again.

Journey – SEPARATE WAYS

Even the most die-hard metalhead will admit to the powerhouse talent that is Steve Perry and to the awesomeness of this song, no matter how lame and sad this video portrays them all. Journey should have issued a fatwā on the dude who put this crap together. 


We have finally reached the top of the crap heap, to the musical spooge floating to the top of the bad video barrel. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the shiniest turd of them all:

Billy Squier – ROCK ME TONIGHT

Poor, poor Billy Squier. No musical career has been harmed by a video performance more than Richard Simm- uh, I mean, Billy Squier’s. ROCK ME TONIGHT was Billy’s biggest hit before this video came out, which makes me wonder who fell asleep at the wheel and hit “go” on this piece of musical holocaust. DISCLAIMER: Pregnant women and people with heart conditions should refrain from watching the following video:

There you have it, folks. My personal list of bad videos that ruined good musicians. If you can think of any I missed, feel free to leave them in the comments. On that note I will leave you with a palate cleanser from my youth. Please to enjoy, WINGER. Feel free to listen with the sound off.

50 responses

  1. I was going to complain loudly if Billy Squier wasn’t on that list.
    But if it weren’t for music videos, how would we ever have known what a pretty girl Sebastian Bach was?

    Like

    July 21, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    • Ugh…Sebastian Bach. I refuse to be a fan of a musician with better hair than mine.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

  2. You Have picked the best of the worst. I was happier when I didn’t even know these videos existed. ;)

    Like

    July 21, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    • I’ve formed a support group. We meet on Tuesdays.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

  3. This list frightened me so much I had to go over to You Tube and play things from my favorites to regain my sanity. So what are your choices for the best videos?

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 12:38 am

    • Anything by Queen. Freddie Mercury was made for music videos.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

  4. Ugh…

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 7:20 am

    • Let me guess; you thought the four pairs of legs walking into frame in the LICK IT UP video were chicks, didn’t you?

      Yeah, so did I. I think I may need therapy.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 10:27 am

      • Yeah!! WHAT MAN WEARS LEOPARD PRINT SHORTY BOOTS?!! TELL ME!!!

        Like

        July 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm

        • The kind who audition for a spot on PROJECT RUNWAY. Just saying.

          Like

          July 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm

          • In related news, “Leopard Print Booty Shorts” is the name of my new band.

            Like

            July 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm

            • Sweet! Can my new band, ARTIFICIAL JOHNSON, open for you?

              Like

              July 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm

              • If you think you’re up for it.

                Like

                July 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm

                • Absolutely! If you sign on to tour with my band, I promise we won’t yank you around. Our tour manager Rod just got us Viagara as a sponsor so we come with backing. You’ll like Rod. When he’s not touring he teaches Kung Fu and fly fishing. He’s a master baiter.

                  We’re pitching tents tonight at Camp Morningwood so give us a call when you decide. The ball’s in your court.

                  Like

                  July 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

  5. I know you posted this on Sunday but I’m reading it first thing Monday and THANK HEAVENLY CHRIST ON A SALTINE CRACKER FOR THAT.

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 8:48 am

    • Saltine crackers seem appropriate, since they are about the only thing one can keep down after watching this musical debacle.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 10:28 am

  6. Reblogged this on The Fog of Ward and commented:
    Monday gets off to a better than normal start because I got to laugh my ass off for a few minutes thanks to H.E.
    You’re on your own for the rest of the day.

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 8:49 am

    • WARNING:

      The videos above feature professional musicians performing their songs in a safe and controlled environment. Accordingly, H.E. ELLIS and its subsidiaries must insist that no one attempt to re-create or re-enact any performance featured within these videos, as degradation to one’s professional reputation or irreparable career damage may result.

      Furthermore, H.E. Ellis takes no responsibility for any pain or discomfort incurred as a result of viewing said videos, and does not endorse or recommend the patronage of any aforementioned band. View at your own risk.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

  7. Sigh… I am the last living musical dinosaur…

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 10:49 am

    • What makes you say that?

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

      • I haven’t liked a lot of music since 1979.

        Like

        July 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

        • Don’t feel bad. With the exception of Metallica, Godsmack and Rob Zombie I pretty much agree with you.

          Oh, and Pantera. And Hollywood Undead. And Five Finger Death Punch. And Rage Against the Machine and Linkin Park and The GaZette.

          Wait…what were we talking about?

          Like

          July 22, 2013 at 11:38 pm

          • You know I went to school with the guys in Metallica, right?

            Like

            July 23, 2013 at 12:13 am

            • Dude, seriously?

              Like

              July 23, 2013 at 2:24 am

              • El Cerrito High in the Bay Area… mid 70’s… Google it. The Fogarty bros from Creedence went there too, before my time.

                Like

                July 23, 2013 at 8:45 am

  8. Finally.

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

    • Well, there was supposed to be a picture there.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 11:15 am

      • Awesome.

        I dug through YouTube last night trying to find anything that would qualify as lame or embarrassing, paying close attention to bands that were popular at the time Mtv came out, before they had a chance to do damage control on band performances.

        One of the first bands I looked into was RUSH. Let me tell you, there wasn’t a single video I could point to that made them look bad. They just did what they do best and did it better than anyone else ever has. No wonder they’ve been together longer than I’ve been alive.

        Like

        July 22, 2013 at 11:26 am

        • While you can certainly take issue with some of their fashion/hair choices (looking at you, Grace Under Pressure vids), for the most part you’re right. They just do what they do.

          Going to see them next weekend, actually. :)

          Like

          July 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

          • GAH!!!! BEYOND JEALOUS!!!

            When I was a kid in Florida my cousin got tickets to see them in concert but one of the band members was late (I can’t remember which one) and the audience charged the stage.

            My cousin came home all bloody, and I remember in that moment thinking that I absolutely HAD to see these guys in concert one day. I still never have.

            Yeah, I was a weird kid.

            Like

            July 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

  9. All of those were bad. Certainly. But Kiss made a good video! Don’t you worry – just look at this:

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 9:32 pm

  10. I like China Girl. He had gone loungey way before this – Young Americans and Ashes to Ashes?

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    • I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about the China Girl video was so creepy and off-putting that I couldn’t watch or listen to anything Bowie for a while.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 10:10 pm

  11. Incidentally, Lick It Up was the first KISS song I ever knew. Sadly, MTV ruined Van Halen for me when I saw “Diamond Dave” hopping around for the first time. *shiver*

    Like

    July 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    • DETROIT ROCK CITY was mine. Lots of good memories associated with that song, namely one that recently turned nineteen. I loved David Lee Roth until I watched Van Halen’s JUMP video with my sixteen year-old. It’s amazing how what is awesome in 1984 is completely lame in 2013. I have no idea how I managed to overlook the bangles and zebra spandex pants.

      Like

      July 22, 2013 at 10:22 pm

      • Oh, the spandex was awesome. Wouldn’t it have been fun to see HR in those at one point? :)

        Like

        July 22, 2013 at 10:32 pm

        • Would it surprise you to know that I have? ;)

          He is so going to kill me.

          Like

          July 22, 2013 at 10:42 pm

          • pictures, please. :)

            Like

            July 22, 2013 at 10:45 pm

            • I am sure he burned them. Maybe I can talk him into some new ones for us. ;)

              Like

              July 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm

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