Video Breakdown – ‘Til Tuesday, (Believed You Were) Lucky

Before I get into this crazy-ass video for what really is a great song, let me lament that there aren’t more Aimee Manns in the world. There was a time, not long ago, when female singer-songwriters covered the earth in thick herds visible form space. Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and scores of others…there was Lilith Fair, there were the Indigo Girls on commercial radio…it was glorious. Now we have Taylor Swift. And Gods love her, she’s fine, but…she ain’t no Aimee Mann. Taylor’s simply not as talented. She’s not as deep. And no, she’s nowhere near as enthralling and sexy. Sigh. It’s true: I have harbored a crush on Aimee since the Voices Carry video, through her cameo on Rush’s Time Stand Still, continuing with I Should’ve Known and shit, even up to ’til now.

But let’s be honest, in this video…she’s a little wacky. But then, the whole thing is wacky. This track was co-written by Jules Shear, and fun trivia fact: he’s the “Jules” in ‘J’ for Jules, another brilliant song from this under-achieving album. Both ...Jules and our featured song for this Video Breakdown used to be part of a mixtape my old roommate Marcus would play in the room we shared in college. He’d packed it with soothing melodies to facilitate soundly sleeping, even if sometimes each of us would actually be quietly shagging our female companions in our respective twin beds. Hey, man…college.

So, let’s begin by watching the actual video, shall we? Open it in another tab if possible, because you may want to flip back and forth. Ready?  In the words of Fred Schneider,here it ’tis…

Away we go.

00:00 – Oh! Lindsey Buckingham?

00:09 – Surprise! It’s Debbie Harry! Or…wait…

00:16 – Is that a picture from The Haunted Mansion? A saw? A bow? A bow-saw? (Also, Aimee? Aimee! We’re over here!)

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Camera one, Aimee. Camera one. Camera ONE.

00:33 – And this was your father’s lightsaber…

00:49 – I think they could only afford greenscreen for the top third of this shot.

1:04 – Magic 8-Ball getting’ mighty preachy.

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The new ones just say “Reply hazy. Fuck you.”

1:08 – Robo-hand has sweet knuckle tats like Robert Mitchum or Jake Blues.

1:10 – ILLUMINATI CONFIRMED!

1:13 – “Crap, guys. I couldn’t find a clover or horseshoe graphic. Let’s just spell out ‘lucky’ if it’s all the same to you.”

1:20 – “Aimee, show ’em the thing!”

1:23 – Birds: We’re free! Free from 8-ball enslavement!

1:30 – Black hole sun.

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Are those…birds? Or did someone drop a bunch of Playtex gloves?

1:34 – Aimee? Hey! Over HERE!

1:40 – Wherein Aimee steps in a hole or something, and domino doors, because…um…

1:49 – WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!

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Memories. Memories were in the box, asshole. And what looks like a spider.

2:00 – Took me a minute to realize that the shadows were from the objects still falling, ostensibly, from the previously-mentioned box. Nice touch. I guess whoever was in charge of continuity earned their paycheck on this shoot.

2:08 – What is that shit? Ash?

2:10 – Oh! Bubbles! We’re underwater with goldfish. That is lucky! (But goldfish can’t read.)

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|AT LEAST IT’S NOT MONOPOLY! HAHA!| (Translated from goldfish.)

 

2:13 – “Say, I wonder what my fate holds?”

2:14 – “FUCK! That can’t be good! Aw, man…”

2:18 – So we’re doing this again? This ‘Twilight Zone’ crap?

2:23 – Zoom in on young Peyton Manning.

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He’s just patiently waiting for his chance to yell “OMAHA!”

2:30 – The Australian ‘Watership Down.’

2:40 – Finally! Dr. Who!

2:43 – Finally! The Doors!

2:45 – Aimee, open your eyes all creepy-like.

2:46 – Nice touch with that ‘Spock’ thing you’re doin’ there.

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Actually, it looks more like a Dr. Evil move…

2:48 – The ‘Infinity Ticker-Tape” thing never really took off.

2:52 – Kids, that is a nice transition. Seriously, good match-dissolve.

2:59 – “ARE YE READY, KIDS?” (Because life. Life. In a pineapple. It’s de bubbles. Under the sea.)

3:03 – Those have to be snooker balls or something. Stupid English people gotta make everything fancy.

3:07 – “Lucky” is a great white-trash baby name, FYI.

3:12 – Time-lapse rose to symbolize…patience? I guess?

3:16 – Aimee puts her band on a pedestal. (No, fuck YOU!) Except…she’s up there, too…and Peyton does’t have his damn drums! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR DRUMS, PEYTON?!

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CAMERA ONE! GODDAMMIT, AIMEE!

3:22 – It is ALWAYS camera one! ALWAYS!

3:31 – ILLUMINATI!

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Laugh all you want, and then tell me what other reason there could possibly be for this. Huh, smart guy?

 

AAAAAAAAND SCENE.

So, to recap: Aimee Mann is a very talented singer/songwriter, but has no idea which camera to look into. The drummer for ‘Til Tuesday would grow up to shill pizza for Papa John’s. And in the 80’s you absolutely HAD to have a video. For every song you released. Sometimes your director had just depleted his last ounce of creativity trying to get Whitesnake to go in a more creative direction and, failing to do so, had gone on a three-day coke and alcohol bender before showing up on the set screaming “EIGHTBALL! WE’RE DOING THE EIGHTBALL SHOT!” (Double-meaning totally implied.)

Thanks for reading, and check out “Everything’s Different Now” by ‘Til Tuesday if you ever get a chance. Good stuff.

 

 

Video Breakdown – Material Issue, Valerie Loves Me

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.

Huh.

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!

D'awwwww...they grow up so fast!  (And unattractive!)

D’awwwww…they grow up so fast! (And so unattractive!)

: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.

Seriously...is this even the same girl?!

Seriously…is this even the same girl?!

:59 – Young Ric Ocasek is just plain creepy.  Give her some space, dude!

Who's gonna drive you home NOW, bitch?

Who’s gonna drive you home NOW, bitch?

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?”

[INSERT CSI: MIAMI 'YEAAAAAHHHH!!!! HERE]

[INSERT CSI: MIAMI ‘YEAAAAAHHHH!!!! HERE]

2:12 – Air/Water.  Your choice.  Fuckin’ England. (Ed. note:  Chicago.)

2:18 – DOUCHENOZZLE ALERT!!

Beard?  Check.  Tie?  Check.  Shades?  Check.  Conclusion: 100% douche.

Beard? Check. Tie? Check. Shades? Check. Conclusion: 100% douche.

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.

"Ich liebe Valerie! Und so spielen sie auf dem Schlagzeug!"

“Ich liebe Valerie! Und so spielen sie auf dem Schlagzeug!”

2:49 – Jesus, Horshack, could you be any creepier?

2:56 – “HA HA!  LOOK AT THOSE DWEEBS!  NICE SHIRT, HIGHMORE!”

We are totally going to be in that new 4 Non Blondes video, girl!

We are totally going to be in that new 4 Non Blondes video, girl!

3:04 – She is totally fucking with them.  “RUN, GEEKS!  RUN ALL THE WAY BACK TO ENGLAND! (Chicago.)

FADE OUT.

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…