When you think of awkwardly weird music videos, you probably picture Peter Gabriel's claymation fruit head, Soundgarden welcoming the end of the world, armed with Joker Grins, and Genesis making it impossible to picture Ronald Reagan as anything but a pajama-clad nightmare puppet. But, what of the genre's other, more forgotten wack-job gems? The songs did fine, but the head-scratching batshitness (that's a word as of right now) of their videos seem to elude the pop-culture history books. And that's a dire shame.
#5. That "Da Da Da" Song From The Volkswagen Ads Features Sexual Harassment And Murder
Up until recently, I could've sworn "Da Da Da" was a mere mid-'90s stock jingle, invented by Volkswagen to peddle their wheels with the help of models who are so pleased with their shiny new wussymobile that they can't stop silently whatever-ing about it.
But, nope, that's an actual song, by an actual band called Trio. What's more, they recorded it in 1980, making it older than me. And it has not one, but two, music videos. The first is a fairly boring performance shot that never gets stranger than the drummer playing indoors but under an umbrella. The second is, well, more complicated. And murdery.
We open not with the band performing their song, but with the singer covertly showing us his mini keyboard like a flasher displaying his big ol' fleshsaber. Since nobody takes up his metaphorical dick duel, he lashes out by slapping a pretty waitress's ass. She promptly flips him off, and the bassist responds by chucking a knife into her back. This kills her instantly, despite it being a butter knife and thus duller than seeing Trio live.
"Et da, Brutus?"
Of the dozens of witnesses to this brutal murder, how many immediately pounce on the band and hold them down until the cops arrive? Zero, of course -- nobody even flinches. Instead, they just mill about doing whatever they were doing before somebody died in front of them. They only change their routine once the band decides to hit the stage and play.
So, it's now a raucous dance party ... with Trio both on stage and in the crowd. Trio is one; Trio is Legion. Crowd Singer and Crowd Bassist groove the night away while Crowd Drummer sits and depressingly stares at the same shot of champagne he'd been nursing since frame one. Finally, at the very end, he works up the courage to chug the thing, making his story line the only part of this video that makes even a lick of sense.
And that includes the dead waitress, who miraculously returns to life off camera to dance with everybody else. She must be part-Wolverine because there's absolutely no sign of her mortal injury at all.
To her, a fatality is but a scratch.
Then, there's the baffling bar TV, variously displaying the singer with his head bolted onto his body ...
It was his weekend do-it-yourself project.
... the waitress in dying mode, spitting out blood like wads of tobacco ...
"Bring me that asshole's next round of beers."
... and the bassist donning a ski mask, but doing absolutely nothing with it.
"Eyeholes are for conformists and squares, man."
This suggests an alternate universe where a cat burglar murders a poor couple and beheads the husband, and if Volkswagen had filmed that instead of two dudes scouring for furniture, I might have actually bought one of their crappy Jettas.
#4. Haddaway's "What Is Love" (The SNL Head-Bobbing Song) Botches Both Vampirism And Decent Editing
I apologize in advance for the upcoming challenge of reading while acting like you're trying to shake a beetle out your ear.
While Haddaway's "What Is Love" was already huge before Saturday Night Live Pavlov'd us into forever associating it with, "Oh right, Chris Kattan existed," that show is absolutely what gave the track eternal life -- despite a music video that birthed the "sexy/terrible vampire" genre a decade before Twilight.
Haddaway's stuck in a dark castle with three lovely ladies, one clearly a vampire (with the Party City Dracula cape to prove it) and the other two ... clearly pretty. They're not vampires, and they serve no purpose but to dance and deal with asshole trick-or-treaters throwing chunks of garlic all over the lawn.
They're as deadly to her as one-ply toilet paper is to us.
As for the story, Vampira bites Haddaway on the neck, but does he die or become a vampire? Nope! He simply gets electrocuted, mildly shakes like he's trapped on a 1950s fat jiggler, and magically changes his clothes from a blue suit to leather stripper gear. Why yes, this is the worst vampire ever. Even Edward could draw fucking blood.
She gives Countess Bathory a bad name.
Because the video's editor clearly cared more about cutting at ludicrous speed than continuity, Haddaway constantly alternates between dancing and trying to escape. The latter at least gives us the strangest, most unnatural bit of stair climbing I've ever seen. He's lying on his side and scooting up, like a half-paralyzed dog trying to scratch its ass.
You are now thinking of paralyzed puppies. Please enjoy the rest of my comedy article.
Shortly after his stair theatrics, Haddaway is gliding along the floor -- with his blue suit appearing and disappearing like a strobe light made out of JCPenney's fashion -- and moving none of his body while doing so. And, because this editor should've been tarred and feathered, using whole, live chickens, he immediately reverts back to his Chippendales vest, like he can't decide if he wants to interview for a job or simply collect tips from the CEO's bachelorette party.
"Superman needed a phone booth to change? Wimp."
Actually, there's the power to dance. Now in double-speed, just like old-timey slapstick! For not even a second!
"Baby don't hurt me, hey Moe."
Finally, at the end, he shows off a cool vampire power: setting a fireplace ablaze simply by singing near it. Which, of course, they show for maybe one-tenth of a second, before cutting to more dancing. Because, obviously, watching this awkward douchebag dance is definitely more interesting than the power to control fire.
Still beats watching A Night At The Roxbury.
Sadly, Haddaway didn't film any sequels in which he sets everything on fire simply because he can, preferring to disappear and live off Lorne Michaels royalties instead. It's too bad because insane sequel videos can be even more than the original. Like ...
#3. Greg Kihn's "Jeopardy" Is A Trilogy That Gets Progressively Weirder
Greg Kihn and his Greg Kihn Band had a huge hit in 1983 with "Jeopardy," and, when it came time to video that shit up, they created an adventure so sanity-mocking, it took two additional songs to wrap it all up.
In "Jeopardy," Kihn's ready to get married, but gets cold feet upon seeing the bride's parents argue. Because true love never has down times, dontcha know. At the altar, he sees sad couples with their hands literally sewn together, an awfully creepy visual for a song named after a quiz show.
This is probably how Alex punishes contestants who don't answer in the form of a question.
Also creepy is when Kihn lifts his bride's veil, and she immediately transforms into a living skeleton. Everyone then sheds their human skin and becomes flesh-crazed zombies. I'm guessing Kihn doesn't think highly of weddings.
Probably because he can't twist "wedding" into a pun based on his name.
Kihn panics and runs off, grabbing a plank of wood to fight off the zombies. While strumming it like a guitar. Because if you can't kill the undead, you might as well confuse them.
"Itchy. Rockin'. Tasty."
Then, we learn it was all just a dream. Except for the squabbling in-laws -- that was totally real. And the part where the fucking horror-flick nightmare was enough for Kihn to run away for real, ditching his poor bride at the altar. But, not to worry -- a bride just ditched her wedding across the street, and the two selfish pricks quickly lock eyes and drive off to be terrible together. And thus ends "Jeopardy," unless you count the new couple collecting Weird Al in his parody video and probably dropping him into a pit of starving, crazed weasels.
But, the Kihniverse wasn't close to ending, with "Reunited" seeing Kihn and Not Mrs. Kihn drive through Kansas, get swept up by a tornado, and wind up in Oz.
An Oz now populated by sentient inflatable tube men, by the way. The ever-popular tube men. From the movie.
Maybe, they decided the Wheelers weren't jaunty enough.
Of course, there's a Wicked Witch, appearing via the most adorable Cheap Special Effect in the history of Cheap Special Effects:
Harnessing the power of More Cheap Effects, she turns Kihn's band (conveniently caught by the same twister) into the Tin Man, Lion, Scarecrow, and Flying Monkey. Then, she turn's Kihn's girlfriend into ... dust. Yep, she fucking kills her, which is what you get for leaving your groom.
Dorothy's not the only one capable of stone-cold murder.
Dorothy's house then flattens the Witch before she can do the same to Kihn, which is what you don't get for leaving your bride. Seconds later, Glenda the Good Witch arrives, sees Kihn, gets hot, and magically transports him and herself to Kansas, where THEY drive off together. Kihn is oddly accepting of this.
"At least she's not the witch I left at the altar."
But, we're STILL not done. Long after people stopped caring, Kihn wrapped up his epic tale with "Lucky," where everyone went completely off the rails:
Kihn is now homeless, divorced by the Good Witch once she realized no way would his career survive the '90s. He and about 20 dancing bums go shopping, where Kihn and yet another girl fall in love. Also, he wins a cruise with apparently unlimited seating, since all of his bum buddies tag along.
Enter the Good Witch, piloting an evil Russian submarine because we were right about her all along. She torpedoes Kihn's ship and sends everyone straight into the cold, unforgiving drink.
"In lieu of alimony, I only request that you let me kill you."
Kihn and his lady get swallowed by a whale, one that immediately beaches so they escape unscathed. They play Gilligan's Island until a tribe of red-skinned cannibals arrive to turn them into dinner ... by setting the single most pitiful fire ever.
Even if you take your human rare, you still have to sear the flesh.
The cannibals get run off by King Kong because we're no longer telling a coherent story, but rather playing Mad Libs with Kihn's movie library. Then, a ridiculously high tide washes Kihn and Still-Not Mrs. Kihn to a New York City beach. This must've been Noah's flood because it caught every other character in the video, too. Nobody fights though, thanks to the soothing sounds of ... King Kong's saxophone.
Kenny G. would've kick-started World War III.
With that, the sordid tale of why Greg Kihn needs a hug finally ends. And his fiance is probably still at the altar, frantically calculating how much coke she'll need to dull the pain.