Ask the Expert: 80s Video Night

28 Oct


I dare you to watch this video and then try to remember the song two minutes later. It's actually impossible. That's how forgettable it is.

Ask the Expert is a series where I interview friends and others who are experts in a particular party concept.

For this edition, I interviewed my favorite music producer, Little Pioneer, about how to host an 80s video night. So break out your leg warmers and Rubik’s Cubes, grab a can of Tab, and cozy up to your VHS player. The plot lines may be weak, but the hairspray is strong.

Everybody’s Invited!: There are so many amazing 80s videos to choose from. How do you know which videos to screen at an 80s video night?

Little Pioneer: I feel my duty is twofold: to entertain, but also to educate. I like to mix up the fun favorites with the more obscure and unknown. One time I printed out the track lists of all the DVD compilations I have and let everyone choose their top three. But then I just took over and blew minds.

EI!: In your opinion, what exactly is it that makes 80s videos so special?

LP: The 80s were a time of experimentation in music (synthesizers finally became affordable) and also in video, which made for many amateurish but exciting works. When record companies realized videos could help sell records they forced every artist to make videos even though many were not naturals in front of the camera. Looking back twenty years, what was intended to be “poignant” often seems funny, “funny” seems surreal, “sexy” looks sexist, “badass” looks lame, and so on. I consider 1980-1986 to be the golden era – video directors and artists seemed to have gotten more comfortable by then so most of the naivete was gone.

EI!: That’s really interesting. What kind of food should one serve at an 80s video night? I’m thinking pop rocks.

LP: Yes, but not as a main course. For that maybe cheese doodle balls.

EI!: What do you recommend for party decor?

LP: Empty pizza boxes strewn across the floor, Ouija boards, plenty of pillows for fights, and mylar balloons (Editor’s note: Make sure your six-year-old isn’t hiding in one).

EI!: Seriously, what is the video for “Total Eclipse of the Heart” about?

LP: It’s an allegory for the triumph of the human spirit. It’s also Bonnie Tyler’s commentary on boarding school.

EI!: Which ten videos would make your Best 80s Videos list?

LP: Perhaps not the “best” by any stretch, but these are some of my lesser known faves:

  • Miami Sound Machine – Bad Boy. Reason to watch: Humans dressed as cats plus all the sexual innuendo that implies.
  • Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora – When the Rain Begins to Fall. Reason to watch: Epic fail.
  • Nelson – After the Rain. Reason to watch: Matthew and Gunnar save a life.
  • Scritti Politti – Absolute. Reason to watch: The guy in the blue hat. Also…everything else.
  • Commodores – Sail On. Reason to watch: The Disneyland green screen production values. And Lionel. (This video was made in 1979, but I’m including it because this list needs more sequins.)
  • Meatloaf ft. Cher – Dead Ringer for Love. Reason to watch: Rock n’ roll and brew.
  • Wham! – Club Tropicana. Reason to watch: George Michael’s rat tail.
  • Vanity Pretty Mess. Reason to watch: For the thiny veiled sexual innuendo, and for the shoulder pads.
  • Loverboy – Lovin Every Minute of It. Reason to watch: Loverboy’s attempt at a hair metal video. Plus, Jenilee Harrison from Three’s Company is in it.
  • Quarterflash – Harden My Heart. Reason to watch: Rindy Ross’s unitard and the mini Rindys.

2 Responses to “Ask the Expert: 80s Video Night”

  1. jadynmom October 28, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    I heart 80s video night! And I must say, my mind was blown and my cheeks hurt from laughing too 😉

  2. Maxine Headroom October 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    80’s rock! Where’s Pat Benetar and Van Halen? Maybe those videos were actually too good to make your list?

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