Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Classic Music Video of the Week: Tina Turner, "We Don't Need Another Hero"

Back in the 1980s, before I developed a more sophisticated taste in music, I used to love to buy tapes of movie soundtracks.  The soundtracks to Ghostbusters and Top Gun were two of the first albums I owned, and I still remember all the words to obscure tracks like "Saving the Day." The moribund music industry gave itself a shot in the arm by attaching great singles ("Ghostbusters," "Take My Breath Away," "Danger Zone," etc.) and forgettable filler by second-tier acts on movie soundtracks, which were a great buy for singles-oriented casual listeners like myself.

I must sheepishly admit that "We Don't Need Another Hero" is one of my favorites amid the 1980s soundtrack genre.  In the first place, you have to love a post-apocalyptic movie set in Australia where soul singing belter Tina Turner plays the taupe-clothed, hairsprayed villain.  (It don't get more 80s than that, friends.)  In the second place, Turner can really sing a corny line like "all we want is life beyond the Thunderdome" with absolute, soul-shaking intensity and commitment.  Like all truly great pop songs of its era, it's got a killer sax solo to boot.  ("Baker Street" might be one of the most influential Top 40 hits ever.)  In the video, the guy playing it is sporting leather pants and a Hulk Hogan physique, which only adds to the awesomeness.

Like most of the soundtrack song videos, "We Don't Need Another Hero" features lots of film clips cut in to get the bored suburban teenagers watching MTV to get down to the multiplex and plunk their money down for a Mad Max movie.  The concept of the video is disarmingly simple: Tina in her movie costume belting out the song alone, lit from below like a goddess.  Of course, a children's choir comes in at the end, as if conjured by her divine command "all the children sing!"

Perhaps I like this song so much because it's the perfect example of a kitsch pie with an authentic center.  I have heard "We Don't Need Another Hero" so many times as muzak at shopping malls and dentists' offices, but the gritty soul in Tina Turner's performance refuses to be turned into musical wallpaper.  

No comments: