While many in the younger set may not be able to remember a time when music videos didn’t exist, rest assured, it’s true! There was a time decades ago where just an artist’s music had to convince consumers that their products were worth a purchase. These days, so much of the perceived value of music is about image. If you have the ‘right look,’ there is a decent shot that you can sell music, even if the music is so so.
So, one might thing with the visual presentation being so critical, that most music videos would kick butt. Right? Well, not so much. There have been some really poor music videos made in recent years. Our faves are below!
Billy Squier – “Rock Me Tonight”
There usually is a great deal of disagreement about what is the best MTV video ever. Some really are into Hot for Teacher, Let’s Dance and even Beat It. However, many music executives agree: The worst music video is this one by Billy Squier. It is not often that a video is so terrible that it is credited for derailing a music career.
Why is it so bad? Well, this video actually gets an entire chapter in the book I Want My MTV, a book about the groundbreaking music video channel. It’s featured in the chapter How to Make a Bad Artistic Decision. His label execs saw the video in 1984, and the guys were speechless. The problem with the video, if you watch it above, is that Squier comes off as extremely effeminate. He’s dancing around like Richard Simmons, at best. He looks silly, and sorry to say this, but, gay. Nothing wrong with being gay! But it’s not exactly the impression a hot, young male music star wanted to make in 1984. This video was so awful, Squier did actually say once that it helped to end his music career. And this was a guy that had two very big selling LPs.
David Bowie and Mick Jagger – “Dancing In the Streets”
This probably is one of the worst musical collaborations in the history of mankind: David Bowie and Mick Jagger. It isn’t that the song is that bad. It’s sort of ‘meh.’ The problem, as with the Squier video, is the execution of this mess. If you watch the video, you would not be surprised that there is an urban legend out there that says that Jagger and Bowie went to bed together. All the signs are there: singing face to face inches from each other, shaking their butts, dancing about happy as larks….it’s all rather creepy. Jagger clothes also are absurd and the Reeboks? Wow!
Huey Lewis and the News – “Hip to Be Square”
If you experienced the 1980s as a young person or as an adult, you probably remember some of the silly music videos that sprouted like crabgrass every time there was a new piece of technology or a new type of hardware. This video seems to have been shot entirely by a fiber optic scope camera. So we get some really weird fish eye images. If you stop at 2:47, you can get a very nice view of the tonsils of the lead singer. Watching it all the way through and I start to get sick to my stomach….something about all the bizarre close ups.
Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry Be Happy”
This song really pisses me off. It’s so annoying just by itself, without any visuals. But if you want to make it even more annoying, take a look at this infuriating video. Robin Williams does a fine job of being really annoying in this mess with all of his stupid energy. The good thing is that there only are two other people flailing around in this bad video.
I remember when this song came out. It’s one of those that definitely gets worse with age.
Rod Stewart – “Tonight’s The Night”
This is a strange, strange video. The problem with it is….well, two problems. First, it’s mind numbingly dull. It’s Rod Stewart sitting in some strange library/museum in a chair, playing a guitar and singing to some blond chick. That’s the entire video. The second problem, related closely to the first, is that it’s pretty obvious that Rod and Company put no thought whatsoever into it. They knew there was this hot new MTV thing, he had a hot song, so a video was needed. So, they went to somebody’s fancy house, went in the library, built a fire, got a hot blond chick and started shooting. Even by early MTV music video standards, this is really poorly thought out and boring. This really isn’t a bad song, and it deserves a much better video than this.