Monday, October 8, 2012

Classic Music Video of the Week: Flock of Seagulls, "I Ran"

Back in the days of my highest MTV consumption, I always looked forward to holiday weekends, since that often meant a countdown of the top 100 videos of all time.  Since I didn't have access to MTV until the mid-1980s, I had missed out on the New Wave strangeness of the channel's early days, when they would play British haircut bands ad nauseum since they had videos and other rock acts didn't.  (Little known fact: until Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," they really didn't play videos by black artists, which severely limited the pool of quality music available.)

Of all those ancient artifacts, I have always gotten a big kick out of "I Ran (So Far Away)" by Flock of Seagulls, whose lead singer Mike Score sported the kind of epically space-age hairdos that only Limahl of Kajagoogoo could compete with.  I loved, and still love, this video because it looks like they made it for about fifty bucks (or pounds, I guess) but it's more watchable than about 90 percent of the higher budget productions that have followed in its wake.

I try to imagine how the band were briefed about the video beforehand by the director.  I just imagine him saying "Alright lads, we've got a smoke machine, revolving camera, mirrors, tin foil, and two birds wearing plastic bags and barmy make-up.  Let's shoot this bastard!  Don't worry about the camera showing up in the mirror shots, I covered it with the foil, so no one's the wiser."

The New Wave-stlye airy synths and watery guitars enhance the uncanny visual feel of the images; I can't imagine this video working with a hair metal song, for example.  (We'll get to that particular genre later in this series, don't worry!)  Not having enough money to put what you want on the screen forces a certain kind of creativity, something this video and the films of George Lucas since he has had the money and independence to do as he pleases bring home pretty well.

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