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February 15, 2007

My Eyes, They Won't Stop Bleeding

It's not that I want to actually promote the new Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore comedy Music & Lyrics, although it looks cute enough for a mindless romantic comedy. It's just that I find this the most terrifyingly plausible fake 80s video of all time.

Posted by john at February 15, 2007 12:26 PM

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xaaronx | February 15, 2007 12:38 PM

I dunno; it uses all the right sylistic elements, but the production values are just a little too intentionally low and the movements and facial expressions in the performance part slightly too campy. It's a good homage to them, but exaggerates the distinctive aspects of that stuff a bit too much to seem authentic. Damn close, though.

Then again, I wasn't old enough to really pay attention when this stuff was first out, so I could easiy be wrong.

Brad J | February 15, 2007 12:42 PM

There's definitely a slight (very slight) edge of "trying too hard", but it's frighteningly close.

Those who do not remember the '80s are condemned to repeat them.

Ian Randal Strock | February 15, 2007 01:00 PM

Oh, that video was remarkably close. The movie itself was very nice. Not a classic for any age, but a decent date movie.

Jenny Rae Rappaport | February 15, 2007 01:06 PM

It's cute.

COD | February 15, 2007 01:20 PM

Not only can I totally buy that as a real 80s video, if I didn't know better, I'd ID the band as ABC.

John E. | February 15, 2007 01:27 PM

Slightly exaggerated, but not wildly so. Nice work.

But if you want another terrifyingly plausible '80s-style video, check out Let's Go to the Mall, from the great CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." The conceit is that one of the friends on the show, Robin, has a mortifying secret past as a Tiffany-like teen pop star in her native Canada. On the show, the video is actually from the '90s, but Robin explains that Canada got everything late. It's truly hilarious.

JerolJ | February 15, 2007 01:27 PM

That was one inch from dead-solid-perfect. It seemed to me to be ABC with some Flock of Seagulls hair and some George Michael booty shaking - a combination so Satanic that even Ozzy Osbourne should be jealous.

tim in tampa | February 15, 2007 01:34 PM

Oh, that was beautiful. Beautifully ugly. Thanks for sharing :-) I still won't see the movie, though -- can't deal with Drew Barrymore.

John Scalzi | February 15, 2007 01:43 PM

I do think the "trying too hard" is part of the intent. It's everything you want in a 1984 music video -- and more.

Jim Wright who would like to forget the '80's | February 15, 2007 01:43 PM

While I purely dispise Drew Barrymore, anything that distracts the world from the current 24/7 Anna Nicole Smith trainwreck can't be all bad, I guess.

80's music videos, I remember when people actually wanted to look like that. One of the few things that made the 60's and 70's seem normal. Anybody who is nogstalgic for those decades, didn't actually live through them.

Brad J. "Those who do not remember the '80s are condemned to repeat them." Truer words have never been spoken.

John | February 15, 2007 01:50 PM

I, on the other hand, am willing to watch any movie with Drew in it.

I'm not so far gone to declare all her movies great expressions of art; I know why I watch them.

jason | February 15, 2007 01:56 PM

Actually, xaaronx, I thought the production values in this fake video looked a little too high. Real music videos, especially in the early '80s, were incredibly low budget and cheesey-looking. Looking back now, I honestly can't say what the appeal was, and I was a classic MTV-generation kid that watched a lot of this stuff...

Trip the Space Parasite | February 15, 2007 02:03 PM

... I honestly can't say what the appeal was ...

Imagination, I think. At least, as a fellow product of the 80s, when I saw more recent videos I was always disappointed that they were just footage of the band playing in a back alley or on a railroad track or something, nothing more.

In the, hm, late 90s, I guess, I happened to see a couple of country music videos, and they had the imaginative visual weirdness that I associated with proper music videos. Dunno if that's still the case.

Jason Erik Lundberg | February 15, 2007 02:03 PM

OMG, I'm going to be singing, "Pop! goes my heart" for the rest of the day.

Justine Larbalestier | February 15, 2007 02:08 PM

Simon Le Bon dance moves. *Shudder*

PixelFish | February 15, 2007 02:12 PM

I was totally thinking of ABC too. (They have one of my favourite 80s videos of all time for The Look of Love.)

Trying too hard? The whole of the 80s tried too hard. It was the decade of excess. :)

The only misstep I could see was that the girl in the hallway had shoulders that were smaller than a linebacker's. Where were her shoulder pads?

jason | February 15, 2007 02:14 PM

Or her ratted-up and hairsprayed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life hair...

jason | February 15, 2007 02:19 PM

Oh, and Trip, speaking seriously now, I think you're probably right about the appeal of these things. As low-budget and frequently awful from a technical standpoint as '80s videos were -- I'm thinking of all the fuzzy-edged matte work and burned-in graphics now -- their creators were often really trying to find some new visual or editing style to try and convey a story, or at the very least an emotion. There was a lot of striking imagery in the early videos especially, and some of them -- like The Police's "Every Breath You Take" -- still hold up today as fascinating little mini-movies.

Diana | February 15, 2007 03:23 PM

I was not enthused about M&L either, until I read this review in the Washington Post the other day, where the reviewer says that the argument the movie seems to posit is that those of us who are craftsmen of pop -- pop culture, pop fiction, pop music -- need to take it far more seriously than the people who turn to it for entertainment and relaxation.

Here's the whole article:

cherie priest | February 15, 2007 03:44 PM

Dammit! John E beat me to "Let's Go to the Mall." I swear, Jym and I were doing little ROTFLCOPTERs all around the living room.

Jas | February 15, 2007 04:03 PM

Okay, I agree, there's something a little too "wink wink" about it, and I think it's almost entirely associated with not-Hugh's hand gestures and the overt tinkliness of the keyboards. Otherwise, it's a miracle of synthesized 80's pop awfulness.

And I love 80's music and videos...

Kaytie | February 15, 2007 05:14 PM

I was getting hints of Wham in that Music and Lyrics video. (Is it weird I just had a deja vu feeling just now?)

Let's go to the mall is hilarious! I keep remembering my discovery of Alanis Morissette's pop album that she released between You Can't Do That on Television and Jagged Little Pill.

Adam Rakunas | February 15, 2007 06:54 PM

Is it just me, or is the non-Hugh Grant half of the duo channeling Donny Osmond's performance in the White 'n' Nerdy video? Or is there a great big subconscious pool of bad dancing they're both drawing from?

Jennifer | February 15, 2007 07:09 PM

As an 80's music dork, I was so ridiculously happy to see that trailer in the movie theaters. I did not even recognize Hugh Grant at first, it was so authentic. I am rabid to see this movie.

I'm already checking the soundtrack on iTunes. The spoofage of the fake-Shakira character's ass songs appears to be great too.

Jeteraus | February 15, 2007 09:28 PM

That rocked. Where can I buy the album?


John Scalzi | February 15, 2007 09:35 PM

It's on the soundtrack to the "Music & Lyrics" movie. I've listened to the whole soundtrack, and it's a reasonably good spoof of 80s music plus some fake teen girl pop in there as well.

Jacob | February 15, 2007 11:02 PM

And then there's Stephen and the Colberts' hit Charlene (I'm Right Behind You).

Brian | February 16, 2007 12:28 AM

The hair wasn't big enough.

Nia | February 16, 2007 06:15 AM

It was slightly exaggerated, yes, but so were the '80s! Everyone tried tool hard in the '80s... it was just the done thing (and, yes, I DO remember them firsthand)! This "music video" really could've been made back then...

Nir | February 16, 2007 06:38 AM

Is it wrong that still love 80's music & videos, over-the-topness and all?

jukkahoo | February 16, 2007 06:44 AM

Some of the ABC'ness must come from the fact that: "Grant reportedly listened to CD hits from the 1980's to get a feel for the music of the time. He later met with Martin Fry of the band ABC to learn more about what it meant to be a musician during that era. For Grant, admittedly without knowledge and feel for the music industry, it was key preparation for his role."

Looks like a mighty nostalgia trip for all of us who think that the Golden Age of music (like SF) is 12. Or 13. Or thereabouts.

Dave Munger | February 16, 2007 08:27 AM

I agree with Jason. It's much too good to be an actual 80's video. That said, most actual 80's performers could either dance better or knew not to try.

Chryss | February 16, 2007 08:41 AM

Simon Le Bon dance moves. *Shudder*

I am enough of a Duran Duran partisan to demand that YOU TAKE THAT BACK. SIMON'S A FINE DANCER.

Patrick | February 16, 2007 08:51 AM

The slightly hidden homoeroticism between the lead singer and the Hugh Grant character is *so* Wham! it's spot-on. Dance with all the naughty nurses you want to, Mr. Not-George-Michael, it won't keep you out of the tabloids later.

PixelFish | February 16, 2007 03:40 PM

Actually I think Not-George-Michael was dancing with the doctor.

Eric (a different one) | February 16, 2007 03:43 PM

Re: the appeal of 80s videos: don't underestimate how good they actually looked on a late 70s/early 80s 15"-25" analog TV over copper-wire cable. Russell Mulcahy's Duran Duran videos, for instance, looked a lot damn slicker at the time than they do now (heck, speaking of Mulcahy, the entire movie Highlander looked a lot slicker at the time than it does now).

Aside from looking better at the time, I think there's also a kind of "diminishing return" issue involved. The first time you saw The Police prancing around in a studio to "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," it was kind of cool in a fun, goofy way. The 900th time you saw some other band prancing around in some other studio, it was crap. The first time you saw U2 in the snow, it didn't matter that their gear wasn't plugged in. (I could be wrong: maybe The Edge was so cool he could plug his Gibson into a horse and make it sing--don't ask where the jack went.) Videos were new, and new can be neat in its own right.

PixelFish | February 16, 2007 04:29 PM

Oh, nope. Checked again. He is dancing with the nurse.

In other news, we actually went and saw the movie last night. It was cute and as my boyfriend said, "A lot more enjoyable than I expected."

Tom Scudder | February 17, 2007 09:24 AM

The "If You Don't Know Me By Now" cover by the guy from the British version of the Office (in character) deserves some mention in the faux-80s category.

Elais | February 17, 2007 10:09 AM

Whoa, reminds me a bit of a lot of 80s video, although it is a bit too earnest. I seem to recall Rod Stewart dancing before such a black and white checkerboard background. Some Robert Palmer vibes with the background as well.

Francis | February 17, 2007 11:51 AM

I noticed that the record label given for the fake band is Atlantic, while the label for the movie soundtrack is Warner Bros. -- by which I deduce that Atlantic is a Warner subsidiary. Which is hardly a secret, but it's not the sort of thing I ever think about.

Francis | February 17, 2007 12:13 PM

Oh, and the song, incidentally, is by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, which goes a long way toward explaining why it will be stuck in all of our heads all day.

Lis Riba | February 19, 2007 02:23 PM

I'll confess, I thought some of the moves were a bit too 1990s-boy-band-ish, but otherwise spot on.

Between this and the few reviews I've read so far (inoffensive fun and not intelligence-insulting), I may try to see this with my sweetie when it hits the second run theaters...

frankenslade | February 19, 2007 04:33 PM

Very funny. This morning I had one of my frequent '80s post-traumatic syndrome moments while watching VH1 Classic.

Christopher Davis | February 19, 2007 09:03 PM

Kaytie: Alanis actually released two albums before Jagged Little Pill.

I have them both.

John Scalzi | February 19, 2007 09:05 PM

You poor man.

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