19 Great 1980s Music Videos Not Actually From the 1980s
On April 30 at 7:40 p.m. PT/10:40 p.m. ET, Yahoo Live will live stream Walk the Moon's concert from the House of Blues Houston. Tune in HERE to watch!
The 1980s was the golden age of music video. MTV was brand-new, there were no rules, and video directors dreamed in neon. It's no wonder, then, that so many musical acts today, even ones that were born after the '80s ended, still look to this decade of big hair, big shoulderpads, and big fun for video inspiration.
None of the videos below — no, not even the glorious one by The Hoff — were shot during the '80s. They're all post-2000. But all of them look like they could have been in high-rotation back when Martha Quinn was still everyone's favorite VJ. Watch 'em all and get ready to party like it's 1989.
19. Walk the Moon, "Shut Up and Dance"
These Cincinnati kids didn't form their band till 2010, but they've done their '80s homework. The club scenes look like outtakes from The Wedding Singer (with frontman Nicholas Petricca in the lovably dorky Adam Sandler role), the boombox scene is a sweet homage to the 1989 classic Say Anything, and the cheap 'n' cheerful graphics are so Saved By the Bell. Totally awesome!
18. Tinted Windows, "Kind of a Girl"
The one fake episode of the fake '80s variety show Rock After Dark stars a supergroup featuring Taylor Hanson, Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha, Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos, and Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schelsinger, playing Rick Springfieldian powerpop. Amazing in any decade!
17. Little Boots, “Taste It”
Rocking a triangular Debbie Harry haircut and some serious power-suit shoulderpads, Little Boots (aka avant British electropop goddess Victoria Hesketh) takes the viewer on colorful conveyor-belt ride through a wild ’80s-retro landscape of botched nip-tucks, cocaine curly-straws, Diet Coke IVs, this-is-your-brain-on-drugs fried eggs, and dismembered body parts straight out of American Psycho. We’re not sure what it all means, but we know we can’t look away… even when that crazy-eyed supermodel starts gnawing on a raw lobster carcass like Daryl Hannah in Splash.
16. Private, "Secret Lover"
Thomas Troelsen, the Danish superproducer and former Superheroes frontman who lent his helium-high vocals to Junior Senior's "Move Your Feet," gets totally Princely on this uptown-funky track. U got the look, Thomas!
15. Blood Orange, "You’re Not Good Enough"
Speaking of Prince, Dev Hynes outdoes the Purple One himself in this dance-filled studio romp. Who knew the Solange producer had such great moves?
14. Stars, "We Don't Want Your Body"
This sweating-to-the-newies clip is a clear homage to the '80s fitness craze, when excited new VCR owners stocked up on cruddy jazzercise workout videos, Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta donned legwarmers and leotards for Perfect, and Olivia Newton-John cavorted with sweaty jocks in "Physical." It's sure to get your heart pumping, or at least make your abdominals ache from all your laughing.
13. Gerard Way, “Millions”
Welcome to the black parade… of mimes! Yes, the former My Chemical Romance frontman goes from emo to Marcel Marceau in this bizarre, lower-than-lo-fi clip. One viewing has left us speechless.
12. Gnarls Barkley, "Run"
It was alleged that this quick-cut video induced seizures in some viewers. But it was worth the risk to see a Jheri-curled, "Thriller"-jacketed, barely recognizable Justin Timberlake host a sadly fictional Soul Train knockoff called City Vibin'. We're still vibin' on this one.
11. Hedley, "Never Too Late"
It's never too late to pay homage to original '80s video icons Duran Duran! Here the Canadian band recreates, scene by pastel-colored scene, Duran Duran's legendarily yacht-tastic "Rio" video. No, they don't improve upon the original, but their island romp will bring a cherry ice cream smile to your face nonetheless.
10. American Hi-Fi, "Flavor of the Weak"
In 1986, Jeff Krulik and John Heyn made cinematic history when they took a public access camera to a Judas Priest concert and filmed haystack-haired headbangers like "Zebraman" (a rocker clad in head-to-toe animal-print Lycra), drug-legalization champion Gram ("like gram of dope"), and other Jack Daniels-swilling Beavises and Buttheads. Bootlegs of the resulting underground video, Heavy Metal Parking Lot — a fascinating Wild Kingdom study of metalheads in their natural habitat — eventually made their way to VCRs all over the world. It was kind of the original viral video. Years later, Zebraman's legacy lives on in this hilarious Parking Lot spoof.
9. Stone Temple Pilots, "Big Bang Baby"
STP were stars of the 1990s, but they did the '80s so well. This no-frills, all-thrills tour de force's little cheesy details — the analog TV set, the slow-motion dollar bills, the bad green screen, the breaking of the fourth wall — make this cooler than any big-budget video STP did before or since.
8. Blake Lewis, “Retro Romance”
Over the course of six amazing minutes, the beatboxing boy wonder of American Idol Season 6transforms into Faith-era George Michael, the Incredible Hulk, and Max Headroom to impress an ’80s babe and become “the cowboy in her Bon Jovi dreams.” And Saved By the Bell's Mr. Belding even makes a cameo!
7. Neon Trees, “Sleeping With a Friend”
The attention to ’80s detail in this video is really remarkable, from frontman Tyler Glenn’s Miami Vice wardrobe to the Pee-wee’s Playhouse cardboard sets to the elfin New Order dancers and dancing shark (which, it must be noted, came out months before Katy Perry thought of it). But there’s no shark-jumping here. Everything is new — and totally rad — again in this effervescent clip.
6. David Hasselhoff, "True Survivor"
Do not attempt to adjust your dial (on your rabbit-eared, analog TV set, natch). This true survivor of the '80s is back with a video that out-'80s every actual video from the '80s. From Warriors-style gang fights and Mad Max apocalyptic cityscapes to TRON-tastic time travel, from electric-eyed "Maneater" wolves to neon keytars to upright arcade games that morph into four-limbed robots, this video (Stefon voice) has EVERYTHING. No wonder (Norm Macdonald voice) Germans love David Hasselhoff!
5. Beastie Boys, "Make Some Noise"
Starring modern-day actors Elijah Wood, Danny McBride, and Seth Rogen as the Beasties circa 1987, this is the prequel to "Fight for Your Right (to Party)" that we'd always dreamed of. Only actual '80s legends could do the '80s revival so right.
4. Katy Perry, "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)"
Katy's totally awesome eight-minute teen flick just may be the greatest John Hughes movie never made. Actually, it stars "Kathy Beth Terry," her orthodontically challenged, heavily mouth-breathing geek-girl alter ego. Joining her are Glee's Kevin McHale, as the knight in Medieval Times armor of her nerdy dreams, and Kevin's Glee castmate Darren Criss as the big man on campus (the role Emilio Estevez probably would've landed if this video had actually been filmed in 1985). But that is just the beginning of all the teenage dreaminess. Former tween heartthrobs Hanson also make a cameo as the band playing Kathy's house party (OK, so they're technically from the '90s, but we'll let that slide), and '80s teen sensations Corey Feldman and Debbie Gibson portray her hard-partyin' parents. The original sexy sax man, Kenny G, even plays "Uncle Kenny." Seriously, all that's missing here is Jake Ryan driving up in a red sports car at the end.
3. Jennifer Lopez, "I'm Glad"
She's a maniac, maniac, on the floor, and she's dancing like she's never danced before. This J.Lo masterpiece, directed by David LaChapelle and nominated for four VMAs, is a gloriously faithful, practically shot-by-shot remake of the 1983 cinematic classic Flashdance. Sure, Paramount Pictures ended up suing J.Lo for copyright infringement. But on the plus side, Jennifer Lopez, unlike Flashdance's Jennifer Beals, did her own dancing here!
2. The Darkness, "Girlfriend"
Everyone remembers "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," but this keytar-brandishing clip from the band's horrifically underrated second album is the real '80s-inspired gem. No man ever filled out a pair of legwarmers or rocked a fannypack like Sir Justin Hawkins.
1. Mark Ronson, "Somebody to Love Me" (explicit content)
Boy George is having a moment right now, with a recent American Idol guest spot, a reality show in the works, and an upcoming reunion tour with Culture Club. But Ronson was one of the first to embrace the Boy revival, having George sing on this track back in 2010. The remarkable accompanying video, shot camcorder-style and starting It-Girl actress Diane Kruger as a young Boy, depicts a wild and carefree night in the life of George circa 1982 — before the drugs, the prison time, and his pre-comeback downward spiral. It's incredibly bittersweet, and a perfect fake time capsule of a bygone New Romantic era.
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