Five Music Videos That Made The 80s Great

Sources: 93 XRT – By Mollie Olsem| All Things Michael


By the time MTV premiered in 1981, music videos had already established themselves as a part of American history, but that didn’t stop the new channel from revolutionizing the way music was played on television. Beginning on August 1st, 1981, just after midnight with a voice over speaking “Ladies and Gentleman, rock and roll,” and the Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star,” MTV brought music into homes across the country.  Thanks to MTV, the 1980s saw many incredible music videos that defined the decade’s style.  Here are five of the music videos that made the 80s great:

Thriller by Michael Jackson: Despite a built-in disclaimer about his disbelief in the occult, Michael Jackson’s video for “Thriller” became an instant Halloween classic. The video starts with Jackson, in his red and yellow varsity jacket, and his date walk through the woods at night after running out of gas.  It’s at this point that the full moon appears and the young man transforms into a werewolf (how romantic!). Turns out that it’s just a movie Jackson and his girlfriend are watching. When she leaves in horror, Jackson chases her into the street to calm her down with a song and dance.  The spooky saga continues with some undead zombies and the synchronized dance we all pretend not to know every move of.

Take On Me by A-Ha:  Norwegian synth-pop, pencil sketch animation and a little romance: what’s not to love?  This video was released in 1985 and took home six MTV Video Music Awards the following year.  The video follows a young woman who is pulled into a comic book and away from her coffee by a young, handsome racecar driver.  Together they explore a black and white sketchbook world and evade the driver’s angry opponents, one of which is British actor Philip Jackson. In the end, the girl returns to her world and brings the driver with her.  How well he adjusted to this 3-D world, we’ll never know.

Money for Nothing by Dire Straits: Starting with a shout-out to MTV, the video continues with cutting-edge computer animation of a few guys and their pup watch television and clips of the band performing live.  At the time, Mark Knopfler was not on board with the colorful concept, but MTV was insistent.  After much convincing, Knopfler gave the go-ahead and the computer-animated men and dog were born.  “Money for Nothing” won Video of the Year at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper: This girl-power anthem  won the 1984 MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video and features Lauper dancing around New York City with her fabulous gal pals.  What’s remarkable about this video is its incredibly low budget and everyone who pitched in to help.  Almost everyone from Lauper’s manager, attourney and brother appear in the video as dancers and extras.  Lorne Michaels even loaned Lauper his new million-dollar digital editing equipment to create the final product. Also remarkable: the fashion.

Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel:  Although the technology was not new at the time, the stop-motion animation in Peter Gabriel’s video for “Sledgehammer” brought the lyrics of the song to life and lead to Gabriel winning nine MTV Video Music Awards in 1987. According to MTV, it quickly became the most played music video in the history of the channel.  It took a large team of animators, including the studio famous for Wallace and Gromit, and required Gabriel to sit under a large sheet of glass for 16 hours, filming one frame at a time.  The video also features Gabriel’s two young daughters, winning him the Coolest Dad of the Year award from daughters everywhere.

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