I had a blast breaking down the perplexing nonsense of Belly’s song “Slow Dog” because, well…the nineties. The thing is, I really enjoy that song. But early-to-mid nineties music and fashion, however enjoyable it may have been, invites people to make fun of it. As a former college radio DJ and flannel-and-Doc Martens-wearing “alternative/punk” kid, I still create Pandora stations that sound like the legendary KROQ must’ve sounded back in the Jed the Fish/Rodney on the ‘ROQ days.
But the videos? Man…they were usually ridiculous. They were all grainy, shaky handicam shots or some asinine attempt at edginess. Sometimes they told a story. Sometimes they just put the band in wacky situations, like a piss-poor version of the Beatles’ “HELP!” Sometimes they borrowed form all these formats and added some ‘live’ performance shots of the band itself.
For example: this. “Valerie Loves Me” by Material Issue. One of my favorites from that era. The first time I heard the song I was POSITIVE that the band was one of the hot English acts: bands that cropped up in large part thanks to the “Madchester” scene that gave us Happy Mondays, Blur, Inspiral Carpets, and later branched out to the Soupdragons, the Farm, and Oasis under the group heading “Britpop.” Material Issue fit nicely into that sub-genre of Alternative music, and I was stunned to learn that they actually hailed from Chicago, Illinois.
Anyway, here’s the lackluster video to the amazing song. Watch it, then join me for the breakdown. Then watch it again and go “Oh, yeah!”
Okay, we begin with…RUN!! IT’S ENGLISH PEOPLE!! (Editor’s note: we’ve already established that this band is from Chicago, not anywhere in England.)
:05 – Oh, hey! It’s not English people, it’s a Liv Tyler look-alike!
:10 – Thank goodness. The lost Gallagher brother.
:23 – Freddie Highmore is now in a band, but cannot afford a shirt that fits. Perhaps he will grow into it? Let’s hope!
:29 – Remember when you had two hoop earrings in your left ear and none in your right? Remember? God, I do. I also rocked the glittery Ankh on a French hook because ALTERNATIVE!
:33 – Sorry. It’s not Liv Tyler, it’s Ally Sheedy circa Short Circuit.
:59 – Young Ric Ocasek is just plain creepy. Give her some space, dude!
1:02 – Ally Sheedy says “Ha ha! AS IF!! L8R, sucka!”
1:23 – Uh-oh. Mike Ness’s bastard kid is creepin’ in the girls’ room.
1:26 – My bad. It’s really Arnold Horshack. And he is SO BUSTED!
1:52 – “Hey, you gotta quarter?”
2:03 – It’s either “Hey, look at that hot piece of ass!” or the “Hey, why am I wearing sunglasses inside a dim, smoky bar?”2:12 – Air/Water. Your choice. Fuckin’ England. (Ed. note: Chicago.)
2:18 – DOUCHENOZZLE ALERT!!
2:30 – One of my favorite parts of this song is completely wasted in this video. Jim Ellison screaming “VALERIE LOVES ME!” is such a powerful, anguised counterpoint to his usual sing-song English (CHICAGO!) style of power-pop…and he doesn’t even get a closeup or a camera-shake. Lame. Probably why Ellison took his own life in 1996.
2:35 – That guy is totally rocking a Kurt Cobain-style shirt. Man…the nineties…
2:45 – OH SHIT! GUYS! SHE’S HERE!!
2:47 – The Aryan Drummer Brotherhood approves.
2:49 – Jesus, Horshack, could you be any creepier?
2:56 – “HA HA! LOOK AT THOSE DWEEBS! NICE SHIRT, HIGHMORE!”
3:04 – She is totally fucking with them. “RUN, GEEKS! RUN ALL THE WAY BACK TO ENGLAND! (Chicago.)”
Conclusion: great song. Average video. They get points for almost having a narrative. The loveable losers in the band crush on Valerie (Fun fact: all the girls in the 90’s were either named Valerie or Veronica) and spend the video trying to woo her, only to have her drive off at the end. And you know she’s totally gonna hook up with that douchebag with the tie. Fuckin’ ties, man. That’s life, man. That’s life.
But Valerie loves me…