20 of Rock’s Worst Music Videos
The dawn of MTV ushered in a musical revolution, drastically changing the way people consumed music. Suddenly, music videos were an artist's most valuable asset, capable of launching them to stardom.
They could also be their downfall.
Not every artist was cut out for the music video revolution. Some '60s and '70s holdovers struggled to stay relevant and compete with up-and-comers. Other contemporary artists simply had too little time or money to make a meaningful piece of art, settling for lazy, ugly or unintentionally hilarious visual accompaniments.
We're focusing on the latter in our list of 20 of Rock's Worst Music Videos. Don't say we didn't warn you.
While Aerosmith's quest for constant reinvention is laudable, the body-morphing special effects of the "Pink" video leapfrog right past "ingenious" and land squarely in "creepy" territory.
Alice Cooper, "Clones (We're All)"
Alice Cooper was 32 when he released the new wave-influenced Flush the Fashion, but the once-animated rocker — then caught in the throes of a secret cocaine addiction — looked and moved like a geriatric in the video for the album's Top 40 lead single.
Asia, "Heat of the Moment"
Perhaps this Hollywood Squares-style video was meant to obscure the fact that Asia was not an eminently photogenic band. It also proves they were not a particularly video-savvy one.
Beach Boys, "Kokomo"
The "Kokomo" video represents everything wrong with the Beach Boys under Mike Love's imperious reign. Filmed at the then-new Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World, it's basically a feature-length hotel advertisement and tie-in for the dreadful Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. Neither he nor fellow heartthrob John Stamos could redeem this cynical brand activation masquerading as art.
Billy Squier, "Rock Me Tonite"
Watching the "Rock Me Tonite" video is kind of like being mauled by a bear. You know, in theory, that it will be excruciating, but nothing can quite prepare you for the full-body horror that follows after you press "play." Likewise, Billy Squier couldn't predict the career freefall that would ensue after he released this godawful footage of him prancing and army-crawling across his bedroom in a pink tank top.
Carly Simon, "My New Boyfriend"
Not every '70s artist was cut out for the video-heavy '80s. Take Carly Simon, who dances to and fro in vaguely appropriative Egyptian attire and inexplicably kisses a robot in the "My New Boyfriend" video. The icing on this nightmarish cake is the old man in the Caesar's Palace shirt who gets pushed into the sea for reasons unknown.
Forget about Jagger and Bowie flailing around like two moms cleaning the house on a Sunday afternoon. This travesty wouldn't have made the list if they had just kissed, dammit.
Huey Lewis and the News, "Hip to Be Square"
Watching Patrick Bateman hack Paul Allen to bits with an ax in American Psycho is somehow less gruesome than this claustrophobic video, which features entirely too many shots of Huey Lewis' tonsils.
John Mellencamp, "Hurts So Good"
Nothing says "man of the people" like jumping on top of the bar at your local greasy spoon and grinding against some scantily clad women while wearing assless and crotchless chaps.
Journey, "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)"
The "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" features the members of Journey standing on a wharf, playing invisible instruments and pulsating uncomfortably in front of a camera as a high-heeled woman walks by them. Apparently she dreams the video after falling asleep while listening to the song. The rest of us just have nightmares about it.
Judas Priest, "Hot Rockin'"
At some point, somebody in the Judas Priest camp must have figured that a video showing the whole band pumping iron would be the pinnacle of masculinity. The result looks more like a blackmail home movie, and Rob Halford looks like he's sweating out a fever in the ill-advised sauna scene.
Kiss, "Psycho Circus"
The original Kiss lineup finally reunited in the mid-'90s for Psycho Circus, and how did they mark the occasion? By releasing an instantly dated 3D video full of giant skeletons and rocket ships that had all the elegance of a bargain-bin Nintendo 64 game.
Motley Crue, "Looks That Kill"
The videos for Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil are loosely connected by a concept: how to be simultaneously as cheesy and offensive as possible. In "Looks That Kill," the band terrorizes a group of caged, scantily clad women; in "Too Young to Fall in Love," they attempt to rescue a group of Asian women from a local crime boss before realizing they've consented to be there. We've chosen the former, but really, you can just flip a coin.
Night Ranger, "Four in the Morning (I Can't Take It Anymore)"
The very premise of this video is preposterous. If a bunch of sexpot aliens crash-landed in the desert in the fakest-looking model spaceship you've ever seen, they certainly wouldn't abduct Night Ranger for their space rave. They would have at least shot for Ratt.
Queen, "Body Language"
"Body Language" really wants to be a sexy video, but this fuzzy, too-dark mess mostly just serves as a PSA against using commercial gym showers.
Rush, "Roll the Bones"
Credit where it's due: The animated skeleton cop (with a pink Mohawk) in the "Roll the Bones" video is the perfect visual accompaniment to Geddy Lee's rapping. That's not a compliment on either front.
Starship, "We Built This City"
If this song and video were about a group of extraterrestrials making a pilgrimage to a sentient Lincoln Memorial, it would ... still suck, but at least it would make sense. That said, the ghastly green screen technology is the perfect visual representation for this faux-futuristic shlock.
Styx, "Music Time"
Conehead aliens, circus chimps, men dressed as dogs, execution by electric chair: The "Music Time" video has it all! The only thing it's missing is a point.
Survivor, "Eye of the Tiger"
As the theme song for Rocky III, "Eye of the Tiger" remains a genuinely inspiring pump-up anthem. The same can't be said for the official video, which features far too many skinny ties, thick-rimmed glasses, sweaty closeups and gold foil to inspire anything but secondhand embarrassment.
"Numb" is exactly what you'll wish to be after watching the Edge have his face licked and caressed by feet for four consecutive minutes.
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Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening