Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When Good Bands Go Bad

Consider this my equal opportunity post. Since I spend so much of my time scoffing at bands and artists that I dislike, don't understand or downright despise, I'm concerned that everyone will think that I'm incapable of ridiculing those that I really like when they deserve it. And since my musical tastes are an extension of myself, I'm out to prove that I can poke fun at attacking them. Makes sense, right?

This may become a recurring topic. (You all know how responsible I am when it comes to keeping recurring topics going.) Therefore, the inaugural band kicking this topic off is...Squeeze.

I've discussed my long-time love for Glenn Tilbrook at length and sung the praises of Squeeze frequently - so why would I be picking on them now? Well, while they never really made many musical missteps, there is one Squeeze video that is just so spectacularly "worst of the '80s" that I just have to share it with you. It's probably a video that a lot of you haven't seen, which will make it even more fun. Straight outta 1985, I give you "Hits of the Year."

Before going any further, I have to defend the song. I don't want anyone to get confused here - I'm only picking on the video. Put next to some of their best compositions like "Some Fantastic Place," "Up the Junction," and "Electric Trains," "Hits of the Year" may not seem like a masterpiece, but it's a very enjoyable pop song. And I have to give Tilbrook props for, once again, putting such a snappy tune to Chris Difford's rather dark lyrics. This has to be the peppiest song about an airplane hijacking ever...if not the only one! This song was actually playing through my head while waiting to take off on a recent flight, which was my first in several years, and humming it actually made me less nervous. Ah, behold the power of Squeeze.

So, now that I've taken care of the positives...on to picking this video apart! I doubt the boys will mind, since I'm sure they're probably not too fond of this vid either. In fact, a YouTuber posted this quote attributed to Chris Difford: "We had to make a video for this and we were talked into doing it with a film director in LA. We flew in, feeling rather the worse for wear when we arrived, recorded the video, and then came straight back. After all that, it's the worst video you can imagine, recorded in front of a blue screen. When we left, the director put all these goings on behind. It was meant to be MTV-like, so we had to conform to what they wanted, but it cost about $100,000. A total waste of money."

I don't know if it's the worst video I can imagine (has he seen "Fergalicious?"), but I certainly agree that it was a waste of money. Have a look, and then read on for my comments...

What's Wrong with This Video?
1. The graphics and props are so lame, even by '80s standards. And some of the stock photography/film footage makes no sense. Elephants and nuclear bombs?
2. Jools Holland looks very creepy for some reason. Could be the lighting mixed with the severely slicked-back 'do.
3. Glenn's costume changes are rather bizarre. Where did that green shirt come from, and why does he keep switching between it and the all-white ensemble? Who is he, Diana Ross?
4. Speaking of Diana Ross, Glenn's hair is a bit out of control. I wasn't really a fan of this Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti-period hair configuration. I always loved his short, blonde, unkempt style, but my favorite came around the time of Babylon and On when he had that floppy-front thing going on. (Said hairstyle is found in the picture near the top of this post, where Glenn is sitting handsomely in the bottom left corner. Click to enlarge and/or swoon.)
5. When Glenn wipes his forehead around the 2:00 mark, I can't help but howl with laughter. God, I love him, but that was such a cheesy move. I will say that I've seen him live and he always keeps a fan blowing on him, so perhaps he really does sweat a lot while performing. However, I doubt that filming this video required that much endurance.
6. Whoever directed this was obviously a very pretentious "visionary" who somehow managed to suck all the fun right out of the band. They have always been known for their "cheeky" (one frequently has to use British terms when speaking of Squeeze) sense of humor and have never taken themselves too seriously. But this just looks like a bunch of down-on-their-luck musicians forced to perform in a Miami Vice episode to get their careers back on track. This was the height of the MTV era and Squeeze was one of the best pop bands around, and this is all this hack director could come up with?

NOT on my list, even though most may also find it cheesy, is Chris Difford's dancing throughout this video. I really quite enjoy it. He just seems like kind of the shy, quiet guy in the band and so I always get a kick out of him when he gets a bit showy.

Well, that wasn't too bad. I picked on a band that I love and only about five or six small hives have popped up on my body. Eventually I'll get to the point where this kind of thing only causes a minor rash.


Lee Ann said...

Gosh I don't remember that one!
Hope all is well with you, have a great week!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You didn't even mention the white sock with the black shoes. Although that did have a certain cache around that time, didn't it?

Great lightning effects though - very awe inspiring. (said that with a straight face too).

Beth said...

Omigod, do I love Squeeze! I saw Glenn Tilbrook back in January; fan-damn-tastic! I read last week that Difford and Tilbrook are reuniting for a UK tour this fall.

Bond said...

When do you start directing videos? You have a talent

LoraLoo said...

Yeah, that hairdo really doesn't suit Glenn at all.

With the costume changes - someone had bad editing techniques is my guess. It's a pretty bad video, you summed it up nicely.

Johnny Yen said...

Yeah, but they'd have to f*ck up pretty badly to undo the good they did with Tempted and Black Coffee in Bed.

An80sNut said...

Not one of my favorite songs by the band. The video doesn't help it much and I wonder if this was one of the 'nails for the heart' of Jools Holland making him seek solace in a talk show. ...maybe it'd sound better live and acoustic. The forced sweat-wipe did make me laugh though.

BeckEye said...

Leeann - Most people don't. I never even saw it when it came out...thank God for YouTube!

Barbara - Oh oh...guess I gotta go back and re-watch it for the white socks. I enjoy the lightning effects too!

Beth - Yes, Squeeze is reuniting, but just not in the UK. They'll be in the US later this summer. The lineup is Difford, Tilbrook, 2nd bassist John Bentley and two of Tilbrook's band members - Simon Hanson on drums and Stephen Large on keys. I've got tix for the show in Sayreville, NJ!

Bond - When someone gives me a fancy camera and some money! Actually, I'd do Squeeze videos for free. I'd be happy to follow them around on tour and film.

Loraloo - There were a few times, depending on how he styled it, that the long 'do looked ok. It just looks a little Michael Bolton-esque in this vid.

Johnny Yen - Oh yeah...they really can't undo all the greatness that they've unleashed on the world. No way. That's why I don't feel so bad just picking on this video a bit. Like I said, the song is still a good one. In the grand scheme of things, videos don't really matter...but when they're bad, they're so much fun to watch!

80s Nut - Well, this song was on Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti which was the first record reuniting Jools with the band after his initial departure, so I doubt he was ready to run already! I would never put the song in my Squeeze Top 10, but that's only because they have SO MANY songs and SO MANY of them are wonderful.


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