Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Best Over-the-Top Sci-Fi Music Videos from the 80’s

Hi, Jen here. I once wore a "Han Shot First Shirt" to a gun show and I am an Anomaly. I recently asked Mr. Charles Davis—writer, composer, musician, producer and actor for Sci-Fi Radio Theater, to be a guest author on our blog. I highly recommend his audio dramas. I was impressed by the quality of writing, acting and mixing in "The Ba Gua Etuis Box" . Please check it out and welcome Charles to Anomalous Musings.

Hi I'm Charles. I come to the horrible realization that my brain is nothing but a depository of information that will never make me any money...and I am an Anomaly.

One of the sections of this depository is dedicated to information on sci-fi and fantasy themed music videos that are so bad and over the top that they’re wonderful. In hopes of emptying these useless portions of my brain in order to make room for more practical knowledge, I have decided to share with you my favorite horribly awesome over-the-top sci-fi and fantasy music videos. Now, this knowledge is pretty in depth, so today I’m just focusing on the ones from the 80’s. Mostly because they’re the cheesiest:

1. Rush – The Body Electric

Now any properly upstanding high-school outcast will be immediately familiar with Rush. The band, otherwise known as the Canadian holy triumvirate, is no stranger to science fiction, with a large amount of their lyrical content from their earlier years being dedicated to the genre of sci-fi. One such song was 1984’s “The Body Electric.” In promotion of the song, Rush created a music video filled with as much Canadian sci-fi dystopia this side of Scanners.

The video starts out with a lowly worker in some kind of radioactive factory making the horrendous error of accidentally spilling a white rave glow stick. This being a totalitarian society run by robot police women, the worker knows he’s screwed and immediately tries to remove his magnetic glow stick control bracelets. Only having enough time and ability to get one glow stick off his arm, the worker starts to run through a series of industrial corridors, but not before taking a moment to pull off his hair net to reveal the most epic sci-fi hockey hair ever grown (Rowsdower!).

Not knowing what to do now that a worker has escaped, the tyrannical robot police women call Rush on their spherical Skype server. Rush then plays them a nice song which convinces them to seek out our hockey haired rebel at the “Android Bar.” (Needless to say, things are named in a very practical way within the cyborg controlled future Canada.) After capturing our hero and then dragging him back through the series of industrial corridors, the robot cyborg women tear open his shirt to reveal a chest so rugged and manly that it makes their circuits explode. Our hero is able to then escape into the safety of the British Columbian wilderness.

2. Dio – The Last in Line

Picking one cheesy fantasy or sci-fi music video from Dio is no easy task seeing as how almost all of his music videos are genre based. I’ve decided to go with “The Last in Line” due to the sheer over-the-topness and the fact that everyone is already familiar with the “Holy Diver” video.

The video starts out simply enough with an innocent delivery boy walking into an office building in order to deliver a package. Little does he know that this office building is no normal office building and is in fact just a front for an Egyptian themed cyborg hell. Shortly after entering the corporate hell-e-vator (I’m clever like that) the boy is shot straight down to a terrible underworld where groups of people do nothing but stand in line and play video games while listening to awesome guitar solos. (Wait, this sounds like my life).

Fortunately, Ronnie James Dio is there to guide him through the ups and downs of what’s going on. Unfortunately, no-one seems to realize that Dio is standing right there singing to them, so the delivery boy just walks right past. Eventually the boy comes to a landscape where a giant tiki doll stands dominate over a series of pyramids. Horrified by this, he makes a run for it, but is grabbed by a cyborg guard. Luckily, Dio comes to his rescue and hits the cyborg guard in the nuts with a lightsaber… seriously. The delivery boy manages to scramble back to the corporate hell-e-vator and ride it to the safety of the above world he came from. In the end, I think this music video is a powerful statement against corporate greed and insider trading.

3. Vicious Lips/Sue Saad and the Next – Save Me

This one is kind of a cheat, as it’s actually not a music video. I mean, it is a music video, but it’s a music video that is a scene of a full length movie called “Vicious Lips.” The movie is an Albert Pyun (of MST3K’s “Alien from L.A.” fame) classic about an all girl intergalactic rock band. This movie is a bit of a paradox as while the film itself is (beautifully) bad, the music in the movie is actually fantastic. After doing some research I came to find out that all of the music for the movie was written and performed by a little known 80’s new wave band called “Sue Saad and the Next.” Apparently, the members of this band have been making the music for all of Albert Pyun’s movies since the 80’s. I actually took a listen to some of the other songs they have done and they’re all equally good. I highly recommend checking out “Guilty Pleasures” from “Radioactive Dreams.”

In this video, the band Vicious Lips have just replaced their recently run over lead singer with innocent high-school girl Judy Jetson (no relation, I’m sure). Now at their first gig with a new singer, Judy is nervous and unsure of herself (as well as high and hallucinatory from inhaling hair spray fumes). However, once the music kicks off Judy finds her inner strength and starts doing the classic 80’s “elbows and snaps” dance in display of her new found self confidence. This upsets Nicki Sixx who psychically launches catty passive aggressive insults at Judy. A guy in the audience gets a hand cramp for some reason too. Did I also mention that all of the musicians in the band play giant electrified fly zappers? And hey, check out retro-80’s Lady Gaga on the key/soundboard. This movie is actually available to instant stream on Netflix now. Don’t miss it.

4. Bonnie Tyler – If You Were a Woman and I Was a Man

One thing I don’t understand is how Bonnie Tyler doesn’t get more respect amongst the internet community. Her music videos from the “Faster than the Speed of Night” and “Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire” albums are some of the most gloriously over- the-top things ever made. It’s also interesting to note that due to the scars she has on her vocal chords from a surgery in the 70’s, she practically sounds like a death metal singer now (listen to “Holding Out for a Hero” off of her last live album).

This music video for the androgynously named “If You Were a Women and I Was a Man” takes place in a post-apocalyptic future known as the year 1999. (Hey, it was 1986. It was hard to see beyond your mailbox due to the mountainous piles of cocaine everywhere). In this 1999 a war has turned America into a hell hole where men with pink hair lead weight lifters around on leashes. Luckily there’s the “Dive,” a sleazy nightclub where through the magic of primitive film editing half of the patrons dance in black and white and half of the patrons dance in color. However the director seemed to have forgotten about this premise half way through the video and everyone is back in color after about two minutes.

But regardless, Bonnie Tyler is the queen diva in this nightclub and she’s not going to let any future war stop her club goers from partying. She then presides over a series of fun and debaucherous activities such as male diaper mud wrestling, dead pig punching and playing the violin while in traction. But just when the party starts to really get kicking, GI Joe zip-lines in to put a stop to it all. Not on Bonnie Tyler’s watch! Her and the rest of the club patrons promptly whip out upside down cardboard cutouts of the holy hand grenade of Antioch. This causes GI Joe to explode into Michelle Williams from that movie “My Week with Marley and Me.”

5. Jim Steinman – Bad for Good

My friend once said this about Jim Steinman: “He is so over-the-top that he comes back around to being humble and then goes back up around again to over-the-top.” Not surprisingly Jim Steinman also produced the Bonnie Tyler album that included the track “If You Were a Woman and I Was a Man.” This gem of a video is from Jim Steinman’s 1981 solo album also entitled “Bad for Good.” You see, Jim originally became famous for writing and producing Meat Loaf’s album “Bat Out of Hell.” He then wrote all of the music for Meat Loaf’s next album. Unfortunately, Meat Loaf did a ton of cocaine and lost his voice, leaving him unable to record the album. Jim Steinman, being the determined man he was said, “I’ll just record the album myself!” The following footage was all that was found from the recording session. This music video may be a little abstract, but I’m listing it as fantasy themed due to the world the video’s events take place in. By the way, this song is 7 minutes long, just as a forewarning.

High upon a mountain top in some fantasy landscape, Jim Steinman raises his arms to the sky reveling in the glory of his newly purchased pair of Nintendo power gloves. After some thunder strikes, Jim leaps down from his mountain and throws a Gibson Explorer through a stained glass window. This reveals a woman in white sleeping on a bed. This woman’s slumbers is quickly disturbed however, as the DC Cowboys Dance Troop jump out from behind her curtains and attack her with a combination of allonge, arabesque and battery. After a moment of fear, the woman in white also joins in with the ballet (hey, what’s a girl to do?). While all of this is going on, Jim Steinman silently watches with a face full of voyeuristic eroticism, unsure if he is more turned on by the woman in white or the DC Cowboys.

Quickly, the group moves back outside, where they dance in front of God King Jim Steinman while he stands on his mountaintop. At this point the DC Cowboys also strip down to their tight denim briefs. (Guys, did I mention that people did a lot of cocaine in the 80s? Like, a lot. A real lot. A truly ungodly amount of cocaine.) The music video ends with one of the dancers carrying off the woman in white and Jim Steinman being lured into a cave for more creepy power glove wearing interpretive dance fun.

6. Iron Maiden – Can I Play With Madness?

In full disclosure, Iron Maiden is my favorite band, and this song and music video is what got me into them. “Can I Play with Madness” comes from their 1988 concept album “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” based on the fantasy novel “Seventh Son” by Orson Scott Card. This video also features one of the final appearances of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman as a disgruntled and oppressive British school teacher. Now, Iron Maiden has never been a stranger to sci-fi, fantasy or horror themes in their music, having lyrical content related to the genres on all of their albums. However, this was their first real story based music video that actually worked in fantasy elements.

The video starts out with Graham Chapman angrily teaching his ruined cathedral drawing class how to remove a pencil from their mouths and how to draw three consecutive straight vertical lines in a row. Shortly into the lesson, Graham is shocked to find that one of his students has had the gall to draw a picture of Margaret Thatcher. Worse yet, this student also has a copy of “Metal Madness Magazine” in his pocket. Grabbing the magazine from the student’s pocket, Graham distractedly reads through it. However in his 80’s teenager oppressing haste, Graham accidentally falls down a hole into a whimsical dungeon filled with robed occultists, potions and alchemy books. Being severely bored by all of this, Graham decides to watch the TV. However, he ends up watching too long and a spider makes a nest on his head. Being thirsty from all of the TV watching Graham goes to the fridge for a cup of orange juice, but only finds Roger

So that’s it. The 80’s was a magical time for sci-fi and fantasy and the music videos were no exception. I’ll leave you with a final music video from Vicious Lips for the song “Lunar Madness.” This one, truly is, too insane to describe.

Charles Davis
Anomalous Guest Author

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