My Obsession: Music Videos

aGLIFF director just can’t get enough of the golden age of music videos


Growing up in the Twin Cities in the Eighties, music was a big deal in the Brunzell household. My dad loved "The Boss" and my mom loved "Babs," but it was my older sister, Jenny, that got me into all sorts of different music – Violent Femmes, Beastie Boys, Poison, Skid Row, and most of the hair metal bands – but we discovered MTV together. We would sit in front of the TV, patiently waiting for all our favorite videos: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Poison, debating which ones were better than others. Was it the guitar riff, the setting, the massive hair, or the fashion choices? Neither of us were ever right, but we both believe that to this day, Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" video, directed by John Landis, is still the best, although A-Ha's 1985 hit, "Take on Me," is a close second for me.

In the Nineties, the process was the same, only this time, I would wait patiently for music videos to randomly show up and then hit the record button on the VCR. Soon, more themed shows started appearing, like Headbangers Ball with Riki Rachtman and 120 Minutes with Matt Pinfield, which helped curate my favorites immensely. I had tapes filled with music videos and once one filled up, I'd rewind the tape and start watching the countless stream of videos to rediscover the songs all over again, or watch the same videos over and over. It was probably how most Gen Xers or Xillennials discovered Blind Melon's "No Rain" (the video with the bumblebee girl) and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (both directed by Samuel Bayer), Nada Surf's "Popular" (the video with the cheerleader), Weezer's "Buddy Holly" and Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" (both directed by future Oscar winner Spike Jonze), and Dig's "Believe," a band I was convinced was going to rise to stardom, but, alas, was nothing more than a one-hit wonder.

Even the Aughts had a great run of music videos, from the White Stripes' "Fell in Love With a Girl" and Reggie & the Full Effect's "Congratulations Smack & Katy" (featuring life-sized peanut butter and jelly jars), to R. Kelly's epic love-it-or-hate-it, 33-part cuckoo bananas Trapped in the Closet and a video you could not avoid, even if you threw your television out the window, Blink-182's "All the Small Things." (At last check on YouTube, it has 164,635,732 views.) And how could you not forget all the great videos from Britney, Backstreet, Eminem, and Lady Gaga?

I will always fondly remember the "I Want My MTV" slogan, and I still watch music videos when I can. In between breaks from work, when I'm feeling down, or when I have an instant flash of "What was that video about?" I'll watch, rewatch, and re-rewatch music videos, whether discovering it for the first time or singing along and playing air drums or headbanging, the rush of a great music video cannot be beat.

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My Obsession, Jim Brunzell

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