Today is the day of the great Digital Conversion, and I have deliberately avoided getting a digital converter box to accompany my aged and bent rabbit ear antennae (I also don’t have cable — nor a cell phone, anything faster than dial-up Internet, membership in any social-networking sites, or a Twitter account, and that’s the way I like it).
Don’t get me wrong — I am grateful to the idiot box for all it has given me over the years, but enough is enough (and I’m not too crazy about these endless computer “upgrades,” either, which is why, coincidentally, I can no longer hear any audio on YouTube after their recent refurbishing, another seeming-inconvenience that will in fact probably save me a lot of otherwise wasted hours).
I am grateful in particular to NBC’s Friday Night Videos and MTV for bringing me my TEN FAVORITE VIDEOS (in no particular order), to wit:
•“Synchronicity II” by the Police (my favorite song of all time, too, coincidentally or not from the first album I ever bought)
•“Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads (the video so good, it almost tricks me into declaring this their best song — but that’s “Burning Down the House”)
•“Stand and Deliver” by Adam and the Ants (I want to live in this world: punk, old-fashioned, Enlightened all at once)
•“Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen (ah, puberty)
•“Is There Something I Should Know?” by Duran Duran (quintessential 80s tropes abound)
•“Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics (Annie Lennox being the first celebrity I was ever really conscious of being attracted to, which may explain a lot)
•“Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie (the one person on the planet who fully understands aesthetics — and mime, which even a couple professional clowns I recently met look down upon!)
•“Head Over Heels” by the Go-Go’s (the one high-spirited video guaranteed to restore my usual emotional equilibrium if anything bad happens)
•“Freedom of Choice” by Devo (shown on the Merv Griffin show when I was a child, this became the first rock video I ever saw, explaining a great deal aesthetically, politically, and nerdily)
•“Shock the Monkey” by Peter Gabriel (rock for grown-ups, and a perfect cultural crossroads of alternative, classic, and prog rock)
And since they can’t all be from the 80s, let me add a bonus one from the 00s:
•“Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” by Stars
And another best-of recommendation, since Stars is only one act to fission off from the older band Broken Social Scene: check out BSS’s other female singer, Feist, doing “1234” on Sesame Street, just as a little reminder that hipness is an ongoing tradition. (And keep your ears on Montreal, which gives us bands like Metric as well.)
While I’m at it, here are some other videos (with links, which I spared you above so you aren’t stuck reading this entry all day long) of note:
•Tin Machine (the last great phase in Bowie’s career, in my opinion) doing an amazing and aggressive medley of most of the songs from their first album, in a long montage-like video that Dawn Eden theorizes was meant to be seen by radio stations and promoters, not by ordinary fans.
•Two reminders that even Genesis was once really cool: the creepy song/video “Mama” about a deranged man with an Oedipal fixation on a prostitute and “Home by the Sea” about an insane asylum — and I’m not ashamed to say that Genesis’s self-titled album is one of my favorite albums of all time. I don’t care how unhip that seems — it’s also got “That’s All” and the cool assassin song “Job to Do” (Bang bang bang! And down you go!). I’m so pleased I grew up in a good area for album-oriented 80s rock (eastern Connecticut, in the middle of a triangle formed by Hartford, Boston, and Providence) so that things like “Home by the Sea” were on the radio constantly, right alongside the New Wave stuff, exerting their powerful influence on my tastes to this day.
•If one wanted to argue that 80s fetishization of cookie-cutter model chicks can go too far, the video for Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” should probably be Exhibit A, not that I’m complaining.
•And if all that seems too trashy, let us elevate the cultural tone of this blog with a look at the band formerly containing Brown head historical librarian Ted Widmer, a.k.a. Lord Rockingham, the Upper Crust, here favoring the masses with their composition “Let Them Eat Rock.” Indeed.