Mental as ever from Toyah, the video involves lots of playing football with sheep, branches worn as jewellery and other general wackiness. It’s colourful and fun and I wish younger artists would make videos like this!
The song’s great too, and I’m really looking forward to listening to her new album when it comes out next month.
A bit of a diversion for today’s Music Video Monday, ’cause Bananarama have released a new single ahead of their upcoming album release next month, and it’s ace (by ‘it’s ace’, I of course mean ‘they still sound like they did in 1988’). Unlike today’s new artists, who tend to be very lazy about releasing videos on time, Bananarama dropped the video along with the song release on Friday.
It’s so aesthetically pleasing – lots of lying about on fancy-looking sofas – and I want pretty much everything that Sara and Keren are wearing. Hopefully a few more videos will show up once the album gets going!
More videos for recent chart hits that have only recently been released!
J Cole – Middle Child
Some interesting dark imagery in this one. There is a bit of ‘standing around next to a car’, but I’ll forgive it because the car is covered in mud so it’s more of an artistic thing.
Little Mix and Ty Dolla Sign – Think About Us
The nice thing about Little Mix videos is that they’re always really pretty – pretty outfits, pretty imagery. This one has lots of butterflies and snow. Good stuff.
Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me
I like the retro diner setting and the costumes (Cardi B’s hair is awesome!) but I’m not really into the NSFW dancing. I think I’m getting old. I do like the subtle homage to the video for Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel though.
Today we’re looking at See You, which is one of my favourite Depeche Mode songs. Yes, there’s a classic red phone box in the video, along with a lot of other gloriously 20th century tech. I promise I loved the song before I knew that!
The video opens in a dark and deserted Hounslow train station, which is a good start. ‘London by night’ is one of my favourite settings. ‘London by night in the ’80s’ is even better.
In a world before phone cameras, people actually used photo booths for purposes other than getting a terrible mugshot that will be immortalised on one’s passport/driving licence for ten years! The vague sort-of-plot of this video begins here, with these photos of a girl whom Dave Gahan is seeking, or something.
I don’t remember ever seeing a photo booth on a train station platform! At first I assumed that the ‘Isle of Wight’ poster was for the music festival, but the festival wasn’t running in the ’80s, so it must just be a pretty tourism poster.
The red phone box, which is the centre of a slightly odd scene where Dave stares at Martin Gore while he’s making a phone call, is obviously the very best bit of the video. Obviously.
We suddenly cut to a Homebase-type store, which is full of the kind of chintzy-looking pink/peach lampshades that were absolutely everywhere when I was little.
Conveniently, the store also has a photo booth in it, with more photos of the mysterious girl lying around. It’s interesting that photos from booths already had to be ‘passport approved’ in the early ’80s, as I thought that HM Passport Office only started to get really pernickety about rules for photos in the ’00s. It’d be nice if you still only had to pay 40p!
It wouldn’t be a home improvement store without a TV department, and those are some super ’80s TVs.
The music section actually looks very similar to a 2019 music section, as physical media has come full circle! I went into HMV the other day and popped up to the music floor out of sheer interest. It was all classic albums on vinyl as far as the eye could see, with the CDs relegated to a couple of racks at the back – because who buys CDs anymore? I didn’t spot any singles though.
The girl in the photos turns out to be the cashier at the store, which (finally) explains why the setting randomly switched about two minutes previously. Dave buys a copy of the See You single, which is like an extra-specially dorky version of the dorky thing where bands wear their own band merch in public.
The video ends with a slightly sinister CCTV monitoring scene, though I do like all the pretty computer keyboards. I remember when keyboard buttons were all orange and grey like that!
A few more longstanding chart hits with only-recently-released videos to look at today.
Meek Mill and Drake – Going Bad
It’s mainly the standard mansions ‘n’ bling, with a bit of cigar smoking and racehorse betting for good measure, but there are some nice trippy elements such as a random car crash that doesn’t actually seem to affect anyone in the video.
Lauv and Troye Sivan – I’m So Tired
This video mainly involves the two singers hanging around diners and streets and on top of cars being depressed and single. There’s also a lot of happy couples hanging around for contrast.
Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved
And a bonus video for today – an extra video has been released for Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved, following the singing-in-a-train-station one from a few weeks ago. This one doesn’t feature Lewis, but it does feature his second cousin once removed (and Twelfth Doctor) Peter Capaldi, playing a widower whose wife’s death has enabled a young mother to receive a lifesaving heart transplant. It’s as emotional as it sounds. Lovely video.
I expect that next week’s video will be an ’80s one. Videos in the ’80s were the best, even if they didn’t have Doctors in them!*
*I’m not digging out Doctor In Distress. That was an exception to the ‘videos in the ’80s were the best’ rule.
Today on ‘Dee’s Favourite ’80s Music Videos All Have Classic Red Phone Boxes In Them’, we’re looking at Heaven 17’s 1982 video for Let Me Go. Fun fact: this was never a Top 40 hit. However, it is my favourite Heaven 17 song, and was my absolute highlight when I saw them at Electric Dreams in December.
The video opens in a black ‘n’ white deserted London, where the members of Heaven 17 are approaching a red phone box with its door hanging open, rather like the ones you see nowadays in areas where councils are not performing proper phone box upkeep. The phone is off the hook and repeating the automated voice from the speaking clock on a loop.
It’s not clear at this point what has happened to everyone else in London – there was a discarded Evening Standard fluttering about at the start of the video with the headline ‘British Electric Foundation crashes – Share prices halved – city rumours confirmed’, but that doesn’t really tell us anything (British Electric Foundation was the predecessor project to Heaven 17, so it’s probably just an in-joke!). However, Heaven 17 are still here and still walking purposefully towards…something.
In addition to the classic red phone box, we have a bonus classic red postbox that has spit out all its post (this doesn’t really make any sense, but the alternative explanation is that when people found it was full, they just dumped their envelopes in front of it instead of going off to find a different one that wasn’t full, and frankly that’s just silly). I’m not as obsessed with postboxes as I am with phone boxes, largely because the former are still in common use and therefore not an endangered species on British streets.
Anyway, this is the point when Glenn Gregory realises that Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh have disappeared into thin air (I suppose that must be what also happened to everyone else, although I’m not sure what it has to do with the British Electric Foundation crashing).
I’m sure this slo-mo sequence of Glenn running past the National Westminster Bank (the old name for NatWest, fact fans) is meant to be very artistic and beautiful, but as a recreational runner, every time I see it I just think, ‘He’s not wearing the appropriate gear!’
Inside the…train station? (it’s sheltered but open to the elements from the sides, and there’s a bench), there’s lots of cash fluttering about, adding to the forboding feeling of ‘London city types in the ’80s all disappeared into thin air’.
The video then briefly turns to colour for a ghostly crowd sequence. This type of ‘single person swimming against the tide of a crowd’ scene is something I associate more with Kate Bush’s 1985 video for Running Up That Hill, but apparently Heaven 17 did it first.
But soon Glenn returns to the empty black ‘n’ white world, and what’s this? Why, it’s a GPO 332, the standard GPO phone issued between 1937 and 1959! Glenn doesn’t bother using it – it’s clearly just here in the video for aesthetic decoration, and it performs that job beautifully.
The video ends with a shot of the swinging receiver in the phone box again, with the speaking clock still repeating itself over and over to a nonexistent listener. A nice, suitably haunting image to finish on!
Another raft of current chart hits where the video’s only recently been released!
Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play
Daft, colourful, supermarket-checkout-themed video with lots of miniaturised people dancing on one of those motorised belts you put your shopping on. I highly approve of this one!
Calvin Harris and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Giant
Slightly trippy video with a nonsensical, unclear story. At first it seems to be a depressing tale about a young guy whose mother has a prescription pill addiction, and I’m going to guess that the rest of the stuff in the video is just part of his fantasy about escaping his life, because it’s all random shots of Calvin Harris living a secluded, self-sufficient life out in the woods with lots of fishing and campfire cooking, and then there’s some people riding horses, and then Rag ‘N’ Bone Man appears to be playing the role of some kind of nighttime forest dance cult leader, although he doesn’t actually dance himself. Anyway, some of the imagery is quite pretty, and I guess that’s the important thing in a music video.
Sam Smith and Normani – Dancing With A Stranger
The setting for this one is all very grey and minimalist, and I (obviously) love the ’80s-inspired grey leather sofas in Sam Smith’s otherwise empty living room, but it’s pretty bleak-looking until everyone starts dancing.
One of the things I love spotting in ’80s music videos is classic red phone boxes. You could probably have guessed that, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time. The combination of ’80s music and the red phone box aesthetic makes a video several hundred percent better.
As I’ve discussed before, the UK started phasing out red phone boxes in 1985. The fact that so many are still standing thirty-four years later shows you how ubiquitous they were, and this was even more true in the ’80s, when they were still the standard UK phone box.
Tracey Ullman’s video for My Guy – her 1984 cover of Madness’ 1980 hit My Girl – is everything a 20th century telephone nerd could want in a music video. In addition to the aforementioned red phone box, there are classic phones a-go-go – none of them a GPO 746, sadly, but still very period-evocative. Let’s take a look!
At the start of the video, Tracey is dropped off at the bus stop in the rain by her boyfriend after an argument. This doesn’t involve telephones, but it does involve a super ’80s pimped-out car. Love that cadmium yellow colour!
Unlike many music videos to which I will be subjecting you all in the future, this video doesn’t actually contain a full-length shot of a classic red phone box. We get this close-up instead, where a cheery-looking individual is sabotaging Tracey’s phone call to her boyfriend with the help of some pliers. Those holes in between the red bars of the phone box are meant to have glass in them, incidentally (I believe this is known as a window). Music videos have never made any sense, and this one is no exception.
Neil first arrives at the end of the dance routine to partner Tracey in some kind of dance style that you don’t see on Strictly.
He then appears in a slightly more expected role, showing up to canvass at Tracey’s mother’s house. Side note: do party leaders actually go canvassing themselves during election campaigns? I know they at least sort of have to pretend that they’re still regular MPs in addition to spending a lot of time shouting at each other in the House of Commons.
Unfortunately, Neil’s bitten off more than he can chew with Tracey’s mother (also played by Tracey), who starts showing him all her photo albums. I love all the classic Labour slogan posters on the walls.
Neil shows up for a final time in the fast-food place where Tracey works, reading a paper. All the mosaic tiling and fancy plants look a little upmarket for a fast-food place. Maybe such places were just better in 1984.
Back to the phones! Tracey spends most of her work day waiting for the restaurant’s telephone to ring. I can’t place this model even after rummaging through a lot of databases on classic telephone sites, but it looks similar to a GPO 772 or 782.
The video ends without any resolution to the question of whether Tracey’s boyfriend is going to stop sulking and ring her back. They should have made a sequel.
A few videos from last year’s chart hits to catch up with today.
The Plug, Nafe Smallz, M Huncho and Gunna – Broken Homes
I mentioned this song in my giant New Hits catchup from late last year, but the video wasn’t out at that point. I found that it’s subsequently appeared online when I was trawling YouTube this morning.
It’s a fairly typical hip-hop video – urban setting, illicit substances, lots of bling – so it doesn’t really stand out among the many similar songs that have been in the charts lately. The baby doll on fire is probably the most visually interesting point, but I’m not really sure what it’s meant to represent.
XXXTentacion – Bad
Another one I mentioned on the giant catchup. I said then that I didn’t think there’d be a video made for this due to XXXTentacion’s death, but I spoke too soon – they’ve made an animated one!
I really like animated videos as they’re much more interesting than live action ones – live action videos can be very generic these days as they all tend to follow the familiar themes of their genre (urban settings and bling for hip-hop, random backpacking kids wandering around Thailand or Ibiza for EDM, bright colours and hundreds of costume changes for pop). The animation follows XXXTentacion wandering around a desolate landscape with lots of vines and water and other pretty visuals, and it’s all very arty and soothing.
Dappy and Ay Em – Oh My
This urban-set video is brightened up very nicely by all the squiggly neon animations that have been added to the edges of the buildings (very ’80s!), as well as the fact that they seem to have shot it on a rare sunny day!