Video Hits turns 30!

Alan Neal from CBC Radio One‘s All In A Day in Ottawa is celebrating the fact its been 30 years since Video Hits hit the air. Who remembers Samantha Taylor? We sure do! Alan asked my thoughts on Scandal’s ‘The Warrior’ which is my pick from the first videos that aired in that first month, October 1984.


I have a love/hate relationship with 80s videos mostly because they rarely made sense. Directors hadn’t grasped the art of the medium yet, nor did they understand how to manage a ‘story’ in 3 minutes (some would argue most still can’t, but that’s for another discussion).


Our first sighting and introduction to ‘The Warrior’!



Most importantly though, you also have to understand: it didn’t matter in those days. People were so enamoured with watching their favourite bands perform hit songs – actually SEEING these people in action – no one cared how bad the video or story or dancing was (and that is probably why we eventually got backlash videos like this, arguably one of the greatest of all time, 5 years later).




This particular 80s ‘classic’ always makes me itchy because my earliest memory of it is walking through a huge cornfield, picking corn as a summer job when I was 14. The leaves from the 8 foot high corn stalks would brush against my bare shins and leave huge welts on my skin. The soundtrack to this sweaty, miserable existence was, among other classics of the era, Scandal’s ‘The Warrior’:


Watch it and read on!



Yikes. That’s one seriously exaggerated evil claw scratch to start this video. The drama!



I love how the singer’s ‘Whoooooooa’ as a result of that scratch goes on for about 9 seconds. By 18 seconds in, we’re finally off and running with this video. That’s the equivalent of 3 whole Vine videos. Also, an eternity compared to the length of today’s attention spans.


The epic, opening ‘Whooooooa’



Though the song plays in my jukebox brain often, I have to admit I didn’t remember this video.



As such, I immediately had to ask myself if it was a coincidence that Cirque Du Soleil started around this time. This dancing is what I would imagine an early concept for the now illustrious circus enterprise might have looked like in demo form.


Ode to the production of Cats, Dancing with Ropes or early Cirque Du Soleil demo?



So if the singer, Patty Smyth (please don’t confuse with Patti Smith) is ‘The Warrior’, it takes forever before this seemingly bizarre scratched bystander actually does anything besides stand there and lip synch. And even then, when she does, she turns into a David Bowie-esque character which only lasts for a minute or so. So random.




Aladdin Sane briefly appears for no significant reason that I can tell



Then, just like that, the David Bowie make up is gone and we’re off into that incredibly awkward bridge/solo part that comes completely out of left field in the song structure. Forced bridges, I call them. But who am I to argue with Nick Gilder?



Soon after she joins the dance troupe for their loose rendition of Cats-with-ropes meets interpretive break dancing (did you catch the guy doing ‘the Worm‘?). Also, I have no idea why Stripe-y Suit Guy is keeping score on that clothesline. Keeping score of what?! It’s almost like the director forgot to leave this part on the cutting room floor: “Not enough time to evolve that character into the storyline? No problem, we paid him, he looks cool, leave him in for a bit. No one will notice.”

One of my favourite parts is the last shot of the Creepy Claw Man who is kind of an important character. What is up with that unceremoniously dull exit? Oh right. Get back to focusing on The Warrior as she’s got a song to end.




I have no idea what this video means. But in all truthfulness (and corn stalk irritations aside) I can’t hold it against the song which I think is a fantastically executed pop number that really stands the test of time and I often find looping in my head. I’m almost afraid to admit my 30 year relationship with Patty Smyth’s voice and Nick Gilder’s hooks (credit also to Holly Knight who co-wrote and incidentally also wrote Pat Benatar’s ‘Love Is A Battlefield’. Wait a minute…!).



What are your thoughts? How would you interpret the Warrior? Love it? Hate it? Let me know.


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