How well do you remember 1980s music videos? Take this quiz to find out.
1980s music videos were all about the MTV era. The funny thing is, music videos were never expected to become big business. Little did record labels and recording artists know, when that first music video hit the small screen at the tail end of 1979, that music videos would become one of the primary ways that music would be marketed in the next few decades. In fact, music videos became so big that they remain one of the primary ways that music artists reach their audiences. And, of course, they now come with their own industry and awards.
In the beginning, music videos were low-budget productions, designed to highlight the artist him/herself. Most early music videos were little more than the recording artist standing there singing. However, as audiences began to respond to them, videos became big-budget productions. One of the most famous of these is Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. "Thriller" is a 14-minute music video that came complete with a cast and a script. The video was directed by John Landis, who was notable for directing the "National Lampoon's Animal House" movies and "The Blues Brothers" movie. "Thriller" holds a Guinness World Record for being the most successful music video ever made.
Think you can hold your own on this music videos quiz? Let's get started.
The music video for "Thriller" cost half-a-million dollars; at the time, it was the most expensive video ever made. The video was the inspiration for a record-breaking dance routine. The greatest number of people doing the "Thriller" zombie-dance routine, according to the 2009 Guinness Book of World Records was 13,597!
After the video for "Billie Jean" was aired, Michael Jackson's famous "Thriller" went on to sell an additional 10 million copies. Michael Jackson’s head was set on fire by special effects explosions while filming a Pepsi-Cola commercial sound-tracked by "Billie Jean."
The "keyboardist" in the "Addicted to Love" video was Susie Verrico, who later appeared in the 2006 series of the UK reality TV show Big Brother. None of the models posing as a band knew how to play the instruments. As a result, each girl was keeping her own time and moving to a different beat.
The music video for “Bad” took a similar short-film approach as “Thriller.” It featured an 18-minute underground subway battle between two rival gangs. The video featured a young Wesley Snipes as Jackson’s rival and was directed by Martin Scorsese.
The video for "Straight Up" was directed by David Fincher, who also directed Madonna's "Vogue" and The Wallflowers' "Sixth Avenue Heartache." Fincher directed the movies "Seven," "The Game," and "Fight Club." The clip won MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video, Best Dance, Best Choreography and Best Editing.
"Borderline" was filmed on location in Los Angeles, California, and was the first video that Madonna made with director Mary Lambert, who later also directed the videos "Like a Virgin," "Material Girl," "La Isla Bonita," and "Like a Prayer." The portrayal of the street life and high-fashion scene in the video was a reference to Madonna's life in the gritty, multiracial streets and clubs that she used to haunt while her career was beginning, as well as the world of popularity and success she was experiencing at that moment.
David Lee Roth released his version of "California Girls" in 1985 as his first solo single. The video featured a lineup of beautiful women and got loads of airplay on MTV. It set the tone for Roth's solo career as he perpetuated his image as a hedonistic party boy. Carl Wilson from The Beach Boys sang backup on Roth's version, which hit #3 in the US.
The video for "Faith" was directed by Andy Morahan, who also did the videos for "Father Figure" and "I Want Your Sex." George Michael was completely faking his guitar-playing in the video - he doesn't know how to play!
"Hungry Like the Wolf" was released in 1982 in the United Kingdom. The next week the song debuted at number 35 on the UK Singles Chart. The lyrics were inspired by Little Red Riding Hood.
"Take On Me" is a song written by the band members of Norwegian synthpop band, a-ha. The original version was produced by Tony Mansfield and remixed by John Ratcliff. The second version of the song was produced by Alan Tarney for the group's debut studio album, Hunting High and Low (1985). The song combines synth-pop with a varied instrumentation that includes acoustic guitars, keyboards, and drums.
"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" is arguably Eurythmics' signature song. Marilyn Manson released a cover version of this song as the first single from the 1995 EP, "Smells Like Children." This version became an MTV staple and helped to establish the band in the mainstream.
The video for "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel was shot and edited in just over a week. Peter lay under a glass sheet for over 16 hours during filming!
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" was Cyndi Lauper's first single as a solo artist. The song was a huge part of '80s culture. It became an anthem for female attitude and set fashion trends as the video showed Lauper wearing bright, outrageous clothes that looked like they came from a thrift store (they often did).
The song lyrics for "Money for Nothing" were inspired by an overheard conversation between workers in a hardware store. It was Dire Straits' most commercially successful single. The video even won Video of the Year at the 3rd MTV Video Music Awards!
The video for "White Wedding" helped launch Billy Idol into stardom. It was directed by David Mallet, who had worked with Queen and David Bowie. The concept was a "nightmare wedding," with a Goth guy (Idol) marrying a normal girl, with some vampire imagery thrown in.
"Every Breath You Take" is one of the most misinterpreted songs of the '80s. It is about an obsessive stalker, but it sounds like a love song. Some people even used it as their wedding song. The Police front man Sting, wrote it after separating from his first wife, Frances Tomelty.
"Beds are Burning" is a political song about giving native Australian lands back to the the Pintupi, who were among the very last people to come in from the desert. Midnight Oil performed this in front of a world audience of billions at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The lyrics of "Brand New Lover" describe the singer's desire to leave his current partner for one who is more exciting. His motivation is that he admittedly does not desire a stable relationship with one partner, but rather is "a pleasure seeker." The song achieved international success when released as a single in 1986.
With help from MTV, who gave the video a lot of airtime, "Burning Down the House" became Talking Heads biggest hit. It didn't get a great deal of radio play at the time, but has endured as an '80s classic and is often used in movies and TV shows, including "Gilmore Girls," "13 Going on 30," "Six Feet Under," "Revenge of the Nerds," and "Someone Like You."
"Bust a Move" won a 1990 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. The song stayed on the Billboard 100 for 39 weeks - and 20 weeks in the top 40 alone.
The hit song “Pretty in Pink” came out in 1980 and is best known as a Molly Ringwald movie.The Psychedelic Furs actually re-recorded the track for the movie soundtrack, and the new version features saxophones more prominently. You can hear the difference in the opening riffs of the song.
Having composed "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" on guitar, Mercury played rhythm guitar while performing the song live, which was the first time he played guitar in concert with Queen. An alternate version, featuring alternate angles, out-takes, and backstage footage from the original video shoot was included on the "Days Of Our Lives" DVD and Blu-ray releases.
The music video for "Rapture" made its television debut in the U.S. on January 31, 1981, and became the first rap video ever broadcast on MTV. Much of the video is a one-take scene of Debbie Harry dancing along the street, passing by graffiti artists, Uncle Sam, an American Indian, and a goat.
"Dancing with Myself" is commonly thought to be about masturbation, but it's really more about dancing alone. Billy got the idea after watching Japanese kids at a Tokyo disco "dancing with themselves" in a nightclub. The kids would dance in a pogo style up and down, and there were mirrors in the club so they could watch themselves doing it.
Madonna insisted on making a music video for her song, "Everybody." She said: "If I didn't have a video, I don't think all the kids in the Midwest would know about me. It takes the place of touring. Everybody sees them everywhere. That really has a lot to do with the success of my album."
The Plimsouls' big break came when their song, "A Million Miles Away," was used in the movie "Valley Girl." In fact, the band actually performs in a scene in the movie.
"Luftballons" literally translates to "Air Balloons" in German, and means regular party balloons. The song "99 Luftballons" is about the dreams of the German people that were lost after World War II. The 99 balloons represent the many dreams that each person had.
The Fixx explained the meaning behind the song "Are We Ourselves" by saying when they go where people don't know them, they take on a new persona, and that's what the song is about.
"Hit Me with your Best Shot" was written from a male standpoint, with the lyric, "Before I put another notch in your lipstick case." The song was a big hit when aerobics was catching on in America. It was often played in the classes. Benatar's colorful fashion choices were often emulated in these aerobics classes.
"Hit the Road Jack" won a Grammy award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. The song is ranked number 387 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."
"Another Part of Me" was performed on the second leg of the "Bad" World Tour, with an extra instrumental section added at the end which was only briefly heard at the end of the single. In the USA portion of the second leg, it was played at the same speed as the original but with some instruments altered. In the Europe portion of the second leg, it was played much more quickly than on the original single.
"Ask" was released as a single in October 1986, reaching #14 on the UK Singles Chart. The melody of “Ask,” enhanced by a harmonica vamp, is simple and upbeat. The tempo is brisk and the overall effect is cheerful and light – not a sentiment one always associates with the Smiths' body of work.
The song "A Little Respect" is a plea for reconciliation from a lover who has been hurt. Andy Bell was one of the first openly gay pop stars, and he would sometimes introduce the song on stage by saying, "When I was a little girl, I asked my mummy, 'Can I be gay when I grow up?' She replied, 'Yes if you show a little respect.'"
The video "Legs" was parodied in a 1984 episode of "St. Elsewhere," in which ZZ Top themselves, as well as the Eliminator girls, appeared. In the scene, hospital orderly Luther (Eric Laneuville) falls asleep as the radio is playing "Legs," and he dreams the Eliminator girls come to his aid, helping him to seek revenge on senior hospital staff who have oppressed him.
The video for "Bizarre Love Triangle" was released in November 1986. It featured shots of a man and a woman in business suits, flying through the air as though propelled by trampolines. The video also features a black and white cut-scene where Jodi Long and E. Max Frye are arguing about reincarnation.