Missing Persons was a new wave band spawned in 1980 by some associates of Frank Zappa. They gained some minor success in the early-to-mid-eighties, due largely to the singer, Dale Bozzio, dressing like some kind of astro-clown whore.
Actually, it's pretty fucking amazing that a girl with the incredibly unsexy name "Dale Bozzio" could manage to pull off being sexy at all.
I had planned to do a movie review this week, but I'm still sick, so you're getting a quickie music video feature instead.
I know she totally looks like jailbait, but Rachel Sweet was actually 19 or 20 when this masterpiece of spooky seduction was made. "Abracadabra, baby," indeed. My favorite part has to be the superimposed cat that pops up around the 2:10 mark.
This song's from her fourth and final album, Blame it on Love (1982). After the album failed to do well in spite of this majestic video, she dropped out of the music business.
Mostly. She did return from time to time to record stuff for soundtracks and theme songs. Like the opening to the early '90s Nickelodeon show, Clarissa Explains It All:
I came down with the flu this week, so I've been all lazy and I'm posting this later than I would've liked. But it's a good one. In fact, it may be the most delightfully '80s music video we've featured thus far.
Michael Cretu is a Romanian-German dude who's mostly famous for his later music project, Enigma (which, in turn, is mostly known for those Pure Moods CD commercials that were ubiquitous in the '90s). And he's also known for long-term boning one of Europe's most famous '80s pop stars, Sandra.
He released two solo albums in the '80s, which are kind of unique in that he released two versions of them, one in English and the other German. "Samurai" came from his second album and was a huge hit in Europe, but didn't get too much attention in the US despite having this totally rad music video:
I had intended to write a review for the third movie in the "Ninja Trilogy" this week, but I ended up getting called to work a job out of town. So that'll have to wait 'til next week.
This week you're getting a video that my friend just showed me, which seems as if it were custom made for me to feature on this site. I give to you, "The Karate Rap."
This masterpiece was made by "Sensei" David Seeger and his wife, Holly Whitestock Seeger in '86, in an apparent attempt to cash in with a novelty song combining two things that were trending at the time: karate and rap. Interest in karate had exploded in the mid-'80s thanks to the success of The Karate Kid, and rap was just beginning to creep into the mainstream with a few rap artists like Run-D.M.C. getting a bit of MTV airplay.
The couple claim on their website that MTV rejected their video at the time because the network wasn't interested in playing rap. While it's true that MTV wouldn't fully embrace rap until the late '80s, I think the real reason they never played this video is because they felt it was too rad for viewers to handle. They knew that if they were to broadcast this gem, every single viewer would flip out the nearest window, skateboard over to a karate dojo, and begin their ascent to the higher life-form that is the karate master. A life-form that never, EVER, has to say sorry.
So this video was kept hidden from the world until 2012, when one of the couple's sons decided to upload it to YouTube. Some have criticized the video as being just too chock-full of '80s cheese to be true, and that it must be a more modern creation trying to pass itself off as a genuine product of the '80s, but all you have to do is look at more current photos of David and Holly to see that they've obviously aged since this video was made.
For a long time, I had dismissed most hair-metal for being, as Manowar would put it, “false metal.” But in recent years, I gained a newfound appreciation for the absurdity of hair-metal and how quintessentially ‘80s it is.
Sure, plenty of hair-metal sucks (White Lion), but some of it totally rules (W.A.S.P.). I promoted Mötley Crüe into the “rules” category after watching their video for “Looks That Kill.” It’s got it all: weird post-apocalyptic fantasy setting, babes in cages, flaming pentagrams, spiked walls ... This video is objectively rad.
This video was actually released in January of ‘84, but the album it was featured on, Shout at the Devil, was released in the fall of ‘83.
Devo, of course, are mostly known for their big 1980 new wave hit, "Whip It." Which is bullshit.
What they should be known for, is the video for "Freedom of Choice," the title track off the same album "Whip It" is on. I hadn't seen this video until earlier this year, when Jessica subjected me to a marathon viewing of Devo music videos. It's . . . majestic.
This video is so overly ‘80s that I wondered if it was actually a more recently made fan-video parody. But no, it’s the real deal.
[Dec. 2016 Edit: Wow, someone really wants to scrub this video from the 'net. I've had to update this article multiple times to link to new video sources, since it keeps being taken down. This version is pretty high quality, but it's stretched to be in a widescreen aspect ratio (a problem I run into a lot with old music videos).]
However, there are some questionable things about it...
Now, if you’re at all familiar with this one-hit ‘80s wonder (the album it was featured on came out in ‘79, but this song was released as a single in ‘80, so it counts, dammit), the first thing you might have thought upon seeing the video is, “Wait, the singer is white?” (and then, if you’re like me, you’ll spend the rest of the video wondering if you can actually see the busty dancing girls’ nipples). No, it turns out the actual singer on the track is a black chick named Cynthia Johnson—I have no idea who the girl in the video is, but holy shit is she animated. And that robot dance of hers is something to behold.
Oddly enough, even if you go and watch old TV performances of the song, you’ll see the white girl in the video lip syncing to it and dancing like a weirdo. I did a bit of research to find out what the deal is with the mystery white chick, but the Internet failed to uncover a damn thing [Dec. 2016 Edit: the mystery has been solved, see the below update]. I suppose it could be that the band really wanted to drive home the pun in their name (Lipps Inc. … lipsync, get it?), but the cynic in me guesses that the powers-that-be simply thought a silly white girl would be more marketable. After all, legend has it that MTV originally refused to play Michael Jackson’s videos because they didn’t think Jackson fit their demographic. Of course, they eventually relented and Jackson went on to dominate the fuck out of MTV, moonwalking over the balls of all who stood in his way. I mean, the dude transformed into a fucking werecat—an image that would haunt me for most of my youth—in what is quite likely the best music video of the ‘80s, "Thriller."
Anyway, it seems that the original singer of "Funkytown" didn’t perform it live until about twenty-five years after its release. Here's a video of her performing it live on a French TV show:
But despite whatever politics were involved in the making of the "Funkytown" video, I think it’s a gem of the early ‘80s.
Dec. 2016 Update:
Mystery Solved! Thanks to forum poster fil, I've learned that the blonde chick in the "Funkeytown" video is Debbie Jenner, a British singer and dancer who, in 1980, was asked to be the "face" of Lipps Inc. in the Netherlands. So it's possible that the video was produced solely for that region. Debbie Jenner then adopted the stage name Doris D and fronted the British/Dutch pop group Doris D & The Pins, which had some success in the early '80s. Here's one of their videos, with a song that sounds a lot like "Funkytown":
January 2016 Update:
Apparently, there was an original video for "Funkytown" shot around 1979 with the actual singer, Cynthia Johnson. It's not delightfully cheesy and '80s like the more commonly known video, but it's at least more appropriate:
Thanks to snginc for pointing this out on our forums.
It was only a matter of time before Jon Mikl Thor would be featured on this site. He’s pretty much the epitome of 80’s cornball metal. He’s a Canadian former body-building champion who, in the mid-70s, decided to start a new genre of music that he dubbed “muscle rock” (also the name of his first album). What’s muscle rock? Well, it’s rock music . . . but the singer has big muscles. Get it? So he basically paved the road for the likes of Manowar, Danzig, Type O Negative, and Tim Capello.
Jon Mikl Thor’s band went through a couple different name changes until it settled on simply being “Thor.” The first proper Thor album came out in ‘77, but the band is more remembered for their '80s output. The video I’m featuring today is from their 1983 EP, Unchained.
A video was produced for “Anger,” the second song on the EP. Some claim it’s the worst video of the '80s, but they’re totally being hyperbolic. Don’t get me wrong, the video is fucking terrible, but at least it’s way more entertaining than the tragically awful video for Journey's most badass song, “Separate Ways” (seriously, the terribleness of that video almost ruins the song for me, so I’m not even going to link to it—view at your own discretion).
Anyway, behold the majesty of Thor’s video for “Anger.”
In the mid-80s, Jon Mikl Thor took a break from music to focus on writing heavy metal horror movies for himself to star in. They’re awesomely terrible so I’ll probably end up reviewing at least one of them in the future.
I doubt any of you would be surprised to learn that Jessica and I dig a lot of 80s music, from mainstream pop to underground metal. One of the many sources of inspiration for our comic comes from 80s music videos. So I thought I'd occasionally use this blog to highlight some of the more interesting videos we've come across.
Obviously, Austria's greatest export during the 80s was Arnold Schwarzenegger. But as far as musical exports, they gave us Falco.
In the US, Falco's known as a one-hit wonder for his song "Rock Me Amadeus" (used to great effect in the retro-80s film, Adventureland). But he actually had another hit song here in the 80s... kind of. The song I'm talking about is "Der Kommissar," and although it was originally by Falco, the version that made it big here in the states is a cover of his song by the British band, After the Fire. Falco's version was released in '81, while After the Fire released their English-language cover of the song a year later.
You might think you've never heard of "Der Kommissar," but I'm sure most of you would recognize it once you heard the chorus, if you're familiar with 80s pop music.
The quality of this YouTube video sucks, but it's the best I could find. If anyone knows of a better quality version, let me know. I'm aware that there's an alternate video for this song on YouTube that's higher quality, but that alternate video isn't nearly as good.