Four weeks ago Rebecca Black’s Friday was unleashed on the world, being attacked by the cynical and angst ridden public as being the worst music video ever made. Yet, in its questionable quality, the video made the thirteen year old wannabe pop star an overnight sensation world wide. A vanity project produced by California based company Ark Music Factory, there is little doubt that Friday is not art. However, is the video really the worst video ever made? Really?
Oh how quickly the public forgets the ghosts of crappy videos past and are quick to jump on the latest misguided teen pop star. While the video for Friday won’t be winning any MTV awards for its creativity any time soon, throughout the years some truly worse videos have been released by some of pop culture’s biggest stars. Be it the bad video concept, the clothes, the dancing, the intense “cheese” factor or just the overall product, Friday is in no way the worse video ever made. That’s why, as a service to Rebecca Black’s self esteem, PCA wants to present eleven music to remind the world that, no, Rebecca Black’s Friday is not the worst video ever made. Feast your eyes on these gems as
CONFESSIONS OF A POP CULTURE ADDICT COUNTDOWNS
11 MUSIC VIDEOS THAT ARE EVEN WORSE THEN REBECCA BLACK’S “FRIDAY”
Now before I begin I want to lay down some of the criteria that I set into choosing these videos. First, in most cases, the actual songs by the artists are incredibly good. Some are considered to be the best pop songs of all time. This is not a commentary on the quality of the song. This is a commentary of the overall crappiness of the video. Next, I omitted videos by small independent bands and vanity projects, much like Rebecca Black’s Friday, proving that even music’s successful performers can be as misguided by video producers. Finally, I omitted any videos from Asian cultures. Often they are considered bad because we Westerners just don’t understand them. Why eleven? Because I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten. Thus, I present to you eleven moments in music video history where the artists produced some of crappiest videos of all time! Dig it!
11. Nancy Sinatra – Up, Up and Away
Now I usually love me some Nancy Sinatra, and if someone told me I could be “Movin’ with Nancy” I’d usually be the first to say “Sign me up brother.” But Nancy’s opening number to her 1967 NBC television special, Movin’ with Nancy, makes me question if I want to go on that musical wild ride with her. Now there is no denying that the video is beautifully filmed. Colorful, cleverly choreographed and incredibly cheerful, the sequence was directed by Hollywood veteran Jack Haley Jr., who obviously knew how to shoot for the small screen. The dancers, meanwhile, include members of the cast of Hullabaloo. So what makes this one of the worse videos? Simply because it is god awful cheesy. First of all, Nancy Sinatra does a horrendous cover of The 5th Dimension’s Up, Up and Away, which is barely good when the Dimension sing it themselves. Also, something bothers me about the dancers tumbling and flipping through the air, in their tight white slacks and taped down mini skirts. I don’t know what it is but it just unnerves me somehow. Also, wanna talk about green screen! Look at that horrible green screen behind Nancy while in the balloon! But I think the worse offense of this video is that I just simply expect something far cooler from Nancy Sinatra. This is the girl who sang such tough chick anthems as These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, Lightening’s Girl and Summer Wine. Nancy Sinatra is bad ass but this video experience looks like a cereal commercial. Someone get Lee Hazelwood in here to make it just a bit cooler.
10. Ashford and Simpson – Solid (As a Rock)
Now the singer/songwriter team of husband and wife of Nikolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson is usually musical excellence. Writing such soul standards as Let’s Go Get Stoned, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and There’s Nothing Like The Real Thing Baby, the couple’s hit 1980’s duet Solid (As a Rock) was one of the greatest soul hits of the era. Distinctively adult, the pair belts it out in perfect harmony. But just because two people are brilliant performers and song scribes, doesn’t mean that they are also going to be comfortable in front of the camera, which is where the video to Solid goes wrong. The concept isn’t terrible. Ashford and Simpson get caught in a rain storm and take shelter under a bridge and sing to the people who also take cover alongside them. Yet, there is just something about the sense of enthusiasm from everyone involved that just makes this video really bad. Ashford and, especially, Simpson just don’t quite know what to do, so they over exaggerate every emotion, making the video look more like a pantomime instead of a soul video. In other words, there is more mugging in the video then a night in Central Park. And speaking of mugging, what is with the urban gang of thugs who suddenly surprise Ashford and Simpson as being back up singers. As they threatenly approach Ashford and Simpson as if they are going to knife them for their wallets, there is four of them. But by the time they make it to the musical duo there is only three guys. What happened to the fourth thug? Oh wait. Suddenly he is back. WTF???? And what’s with the guys with the drums. And there are a lot of guys with drums. Almost to many. In fact, at about 2:13 a guy looking oddly like Tom Sellek is seen playing the drums. I dunno about this video. As an 80’s song, this is truly “solid’, but as a video I think the rain made them a bit soggy.
9. Elton John and KiKi Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
It’s one of the best pop duets in musical history, but if you ever want proof that Elton John was never cool, all you need to do is check out the video for Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. Now there is good reason that this video is as terrible as it is. The video is the product of last minute decisions, no preparation and very little direction. As legend ha it, the director for this video was pulled out of directing a Rod Stewart TV special and asked to put together this video. He set up three cameras, told KiKi Dee and Elton John to just “improvise” and then left the two to bumble through it in one take…and you can tell. Both singers, obviously lip syncing, miss their song cues and when Elton tries to lead KiKi in an improvised dance sequence the whole thing just falls to shit. But the main thing that makes this video so bad is simply the overall presence of Elton John. Although at the height of his song writing career, and unquestionably one of the best performers of the era, Elton John overcompensates, mugging like Tony Danza and donning a shit eating grin so creepy that it makes you forget just how ugly his jacket is. And what’s up with the part where he “kisses” KiKi Dee’s pocket? This is the defining moment when Elton John went from being cool to lame. You can even see KiKi look off camera as if to say “WTF” at 1:42. Although the pair would perform together again, thank goodness they never made any more videos.
8. Neil Diamond – Headed For the Future
The year was 1986. Neil Diamond had not had a big hit for six years since his powerful Jazz Singer soundtrack that contained three of his most beloved and powerful compositions – Hello Again, America and Love on the Rocks. Thing is, the times had changed for music, and suddenly the industry was no longer interested in introspective singer/songwriters and instead kids were turning on to a brand new era of music motivated by MTV. Never having done a high concept video before, Neil Diamond decided that perhaps it was time to change with the times, and shed his sparkly shirt for a leather jacket as captain of a post apocalyptic space rig in the science fiction themed Headed For the Future. What Neil Diamond didn’t take into account is that sometimes just sticking to what you know best is the best idea. Taking what looks like some inspiring Broadway dancers rejected from a Cats audition onto some left over set pieces from the Aliens movies, Neil Diamond struts uncomfortably through possibly the worst song that he had ever written. Everything about Headed For the Future stinks of phoniness and desperation as Neil Diamond, obviously threatened by the MTV generation, tries to prove that he still has what it takes to make it to the top, but failing to deliver Obviously, Neil Diamond would have the last laugh, regaining his popularity in the current century as a songwriting icon and realizing that he didn’t need to reinvent himself. Yet notice that Headed For the Future isn’t performed in Neil’s live shows or found on any music compilations. If Neil Diamond’s 1986 vision of the future was that video, then I’d rather stick with Orwellian dystopias instead.
7. Starship – We Built This City on Rock and Roll
Once upon a time acid rock band The Jefferson Airplane was one of the coolest, cutting edge musical groups in North America. Downing a boat load of drugs, they were responsible for such 60’s standards as White Rabbit, Somebody to Love, Volunteers and Crown of Creation. However, as time went on, the Airplane got hijacked by a bunch of guys that weren’t even members of the original group, who eventually overpowered the original band and moved them out, one by one, until by the 1980’s there was no actual members of The Jefferson Airplane, now deemed Jefferson Starship, in the group anymore. With acid rock long dead, and Nancy Reagan’s ‘Say No to Drugs” campaign sweeping America, the times had changed for San Francisco’s favorite rock group. Changing their name to Starship due to a lawsuit filed by founding member Paul Kanter for lacking enough original members, the band managed to have a trio of ultra lame number one hits during the era, with the lamest being We Built This City on Rock and Roll. So it is only fitting that a lame song would have an even lamer video. Well, you got it! Opening in what looks to be the set of Teletubbies, at first viewing the video looks like an advertisement for a local radio station, superimposing random people into the screen as singer Mickey Thomas snaps his fingers and sings with conviction. Too bad Grace Slick isn’t here to save this monstrosity. Oh…wait….Grace Slick IS here, returning to the fold all stunned and burnt out, as she sheds the awesomeness of her 1960’s hippie chick persona for a glossy eyed glam rock appearance that looks like she dipped into Carrie Fisher’s bag of smack left over from the Star Wars Holiday Special. Once again the use of the bad green screen is below standards, even for 1985. Most of all the video really makes no sense, although I must admit I do kind of like the singing Abraham Lincoln. But perhaps some good can come out of this video. They should show We Built This City On Rock and Roll in schools to show what the effects of drug use does to people. When you’re young and dropping acid you write some great songs, but when you get old and all burnt out you end up in videos like We’ve Built This City on Rock and Roll. Remember kids – say no to drugs.
6. The Rolling Stones – Start Me Up
There is no doubt that Start Me Up is the greatest of The Rolling Stones post-1960’s hits. However, there is no excuse for the absolute crappiness of the uninspiring and directionless video. Much like Elton John and KiKi Dee on Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, what leads the legendary Rolling Stones’ downfall on Start Me Up is lack of direction. It is as if the director just put the group in a rehearsal space and told them to “Do that thing you do” and they just kind of winged it. Now, to be fair, the rest of the group, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts all come off looking fairly cool, but front man Mick Jagger is a whole other story. The notoriously bad assed rock legend just comes off looking like a giant dork from the moment the video begins as he does an awkward interpretive dance that looks like he is participating in one of Richard Simmons Sweating into the Oldies work out videos. Furthermore, his outfit is totally inappropriate. While Bill, Charlie and Keith looks sharp in their modern cut suits, and Ronnie bravely shoots for more of a John Cougar Mellencamp inspired look, Mick Jagger shows up in a lavender v-neck spandex top tucked into white jogging pants. Obviously Mick Jagger needs a fashion consultant to help him get dressed in the morning. Furthermore it is clear that even the rest of the group knows that Mick Jagger is really making an arse out of himself in this one. At approximately 3:07 Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman exchange smug glances at each other as if to say “We’re going to come of looking good in this one, aren’t we?” Yet, as awkwardly stupid as this video is, nobody has ever really called The Rolling Stones out on it because not only has Start Me Up become a rock standard, The Rolling Stones are rock n’ roll gods. They don’t need to prove anything to us in video. The music speaks for itself.
[5. Hot Gossip featuring Sarah Brightman – I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper
Never in the history of video has science fiction and music been put together so badly…but with such awesome results! Just what events, would you wonder, would bring classically trained singer Sarah Brightman together with some coked up disco babes and greased up sexually ambiguous studs to partake on their own erotic space odyssey? Well, if you were a fan of British television in the late 1970’s then you were probably more familiar with Hot Gossip then Sarah Brightman. Hot Gossip was not a musical group. They were a troupe of “erotic dancers” that performed on ITV’s Kenny Everett Show. Starting out in disco clubs, Hot Gossip’s move to video, doing “naughty” dance numbers on prime time television which made the troupe, albeit briefly, a sensation in England. In 1977, inspired by the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and with Star Trek franchise about to be reborn on the big screen, Hot Gossip decided to create their science fiction number with, for the first time, an original single to accompany them. However, there wasn’t a singer in the bunch. Instead the group looked to the London stage and hired an up and coming young Sarah Brightman to sing their disco ode to space! It would be first class exposure for Sarah Brightman, and an actual single under the name Hot Gossip. With music and sexual lyrics alluding to various sci-fi franchises, both the song and video for I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper premiered on The Kenny Everett Show with mixed success. The song went to number six on the UK Billboard Charts but was ignored on all other markets. In the video the guys of Hot Gossip gyrate and dispense sparkles as zoned out girls, acting as robots, twirl in sexual poses. As a result, instead of being sexy the whole thing just like tacky and stupid. Not surprisingly, Sarah Brightman was embarrassed by the whole experience. In fact, when the song and video was re-released as part of the soundtrack to the 1997 film Starship Troopers she was able to have TriStar pictures cut all of her scenes out and replace it with footage from the movie. However, it hasn’t stopped the video from being a cult favorite. Like it or not, Sarah Brightman will have to deal with the cult fandom of I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper for the rest of her career.
4. Giorgio Mordor – Looky Looky
Long before Benni Cinkle became an internet favorite as “That Girl in Pink That Dances Awkwardly,” Italian record producer Giorgio Morder was “That Guy in a Scarf So Big That Homeless People Can Live Under It That Dances Awkwardly.” Bringing his international pop hit Looky Looky to video in 1969 for Italian music program Musicolor, Giorgio became the victim of many of the talented artists featured on this list – he had no direction. Clearly told to just “wing it” Girogio not only lip syncs his own song badly, but self consciously grooves like a man who fully knows that he has two left feet and absolutely no mojo at his disposal. Sporting possibly the biggest pornstache of the era, Giorgio just looks awkward and uncomfortable in which was obviously three minutes of living hell for him. Yet, Giorgio would get his day of redemption. After his horrible Looky Looky ordeal, Giorgio would go on to be one of the most respected songwriter/producers of the decade working with artists such as Queen, Donna Summers, David Bowie and Blondie. However, it is unlikely that he ever shared any of his dance moves with any of them.
3. Leonard Nimoy – The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins
Sometimes the pop culture journey is just a really really fucked up place. Case in point is the video for Leonard Nimoy’s tribute to JRR Tolkien The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. Leonard Nimoy, complete in Spock haircut, hangs out on the beach with colorful go go dancers in Vulcan ears who dance around like hobbits as Nimoy tells the Readers Digest version of The Hobbit…in song. Now don’t even bother asking Leonard Nimoy “WTF” about this one because I had the great honor of personally asking the man himself that very question in 2002, but he totally avoided the answer. His silence would not satisfy my for an answer, and after much investigation I found the answer to how this horrendous clash of pop culture franchises happened. The year was 1967. Leonard Nimoy was filming the second season of Star Trek at Desilu Studios when he was approached by CBS to do a guest spot on a brand new music show called Malibu U. Seems Malibu U wasn’t doing well. Using the beach films of the early sixties as their inspiration, Malibu U was about fresh faced teenagers and nice girls who dig on surf boards, dune buggies and beach babes. Considered “square” by the youth that had already been seduced by the counter culture, most of the big groups of the time were appearing on the rival network’s Hullabaloo. As a result Malibu U was getting throwbacks such as Ricky Nelson and Bobby Vinton as well as novelty acts such as Mrs. Miller as guests. When Malibu U even scored an appearance by The Doors, Jim Morrison didn’t even bother to show up and they were forced to use stock footage and a Jim Morrison “stand in” to appear with the rest of the band. In hopes to attract a “different” sort of audience the producers of Malibu U sought out Leonard Nimoy and presented him a song about The Lord of the Rings. Having just read Tolkien’s trilogy, Nimoy said he’d do it and video history was born. In the end not even Nimoy and the legion of Trekkies could help. Malibu U was cancelled before the end of the 1967 season. BTW – look carefully and you’ll see another sci-fi icon in the video. One of the go go dancers is none other then Erin Gray, who would go on to play Wilma Deering in the 1980’s TV version of Buck Rogers, opposite Gil Gerard. Little needs to be said about this video. The strangeness just speaks for itself. Just don’t ask Nimoy about it because he’ll just coyly deny it ever happened.
2. Tommy Seebach – Apache
No. This is not an outtake from one of the Billy Jack films. Possibly one of the most unintentionally prejudice music videos of all time, its Danish 70’s icon Tommy Seebach’s incredibly misguided tribute to Native Americans! Filmed in 1977, there is just so much wrong with this video. Playing his own discoed synthesized arrangement of the classic guitar rock standard made famous in the early 1960’s by British group The Shadows, Tommy Seebach brought out every Indian clique imaginable, from the traditional teepees, to the scantly clad Indian maidens, which observers will notice are not actually real Indians, who caress and fondle the gyrating Seebach throughout the video. With a grin that rivals Elton John’s, and a moustache nearly as big as Giorgio’s, Seebach is obviously loving every minute of his own Native American fantasy. Forget about the poverty on reservations, the slaughter of the Buffalo or that whole Wounded Knee thing. Tommy Seebach reminds you that INDIANS ARE SEXY! APACHEEEEEE!!! AH HA HA HA! BTW – in case you were wondering, yes, the man playing the bongos is, in fact, a Sasquatch.
1. Danny and Armi – I Wanna Love You Tender
What is it about the Danish? Leave it to Denmark to bring us the worst music videos of all time! Finally we present, without a doubt, the WORST of the WROST music video in the history of music videos – I Wanna Love You Tender by Danny and Armi. An entire article of its own could be written about this monstrosity of video incompetence. Also released in 1977 (something was obviously smelled in the state of Denmark that year), little is known about the origins of the video, obviously shot for a music program. However, the song I Wanna Love You Tender was on the Scandinavian music charts for five weeks in the summer of 1977. Danny, the guy who looks remarkably like He-Man’s alter ego Prince Adam, is singer Ilkka Lipsanen, who chose the moniker “Danny” in hopes that it would be more appealing to a North American audience (he probably was right). Beginning his music career in the mid 1960’s, Danny became a successful music promoter, organizing a successful annual traveling music festival in Finland throughout the entire decade of the 1970s known as “The Danny Show.” In 1977 Danny teamed up with Miss Finland, Armi Aaviko, for a number of successful duets, including what is now known as his biggest international success (for all the wrong reasons) I Wanna Love You Tender. Now, although Danny was married at the time, he and Armi were having a very poorly concealed affair! Eventually Danny and Armi went their separate ways. Danny continued in music, primarily as a producer and still works in the business today. Armi died in 2002 of cancer, never living to see the day that the video for I Wanna Love You Tender would become a video meme as “the worst video of all time” long before Rebecca Black ever came on the scene. Now, looking at the video, it is clear that Danny and Armi are not the real culprits of what is wrong with the video but it is in fact the troupe of incredibly awkward, unattractive and badly choreographed dancers. There is just no excuse for dancing this bad. Is the whole thing supposed to be a joke? Often you begin to think it is, but then Danny and Armi seem to be taking the video so seriously as it falls apart around them in a giant sea of shit. The choreographer of this video most likely never worked in the entertainment industry again, if Danny didn’t drag him out into the street and shoot him first for screwing up his video. I Wanna Love You Tender is today, yesterday, and tomorrow and especially on Fridays, the WORST music video of all time!
So what is the moral of this run down of the worst music videos of all time? First, even the world’s most talented performers can be mislead by bad video concepts, lack of direction, bad chorography and stupid ideas. But, being that, unlike Rebecca Black, they are both professionals and adults, in all of these cases they should have known better. So next time you want to start hating on a thirteen year old girl with dreams of pop stardom, just take a look towards any of these videos. There are worse videos then Friday. Well….at least eleven worse videos anyways.