It’s time again for Friday on My Mind. Our weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News.
While doing some internet surfing this week, I learned that tomorrow marks 25 years since A-ha hit #1 on the top 40 charts with “Take On Me” on October 19th in 1985. To celebrate this anniversary, this week we’re looking at songs and videos from 1985.
Ah, 1985... let’s all reminisce, shall we? Coke changed its formula and became New Coke, but it was awful, so they changed back to old Coke. The plastic thingy that saves hot pizza from the top of the box was invented. Some of the most popular toys and gifts for 1985 were Swatch watches, Super Mario Brothers on the brand new Nintendo game console, She-Ra Princess of Power action figures, Care Bears, and mothers clawed each other’s eyes out to get their hands on Teddy Ruxpins.
Timeless movies were released in 1985 including Commando, Teen Wolf, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, but I’d say the greatest movie to be released in 1985 was Gymkata.
Now let’s talk 1985 in music. “We Are the World” was recorded by USA for Africa, Madonna began her very first tour, “The Virgin Tour” which was in support of the Like a Virgin album in Seattle The Duran Duran side project, Arcadia, and Hootie & the Blowfish formed. Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required won Album of the Year Grammy.
And now let’s look at more music as we look our picks of the best, or depending on how you look at it, maybe the worst videos and songs from 1985...
Aha - Take On Me
A-ha were a Norwegian trio who chose their name because it was a simple exclamation known all over the world. With this hit, A-ha became the first Norwegian band to have #1 in USA. This song became a hit in the US because of its innovative video. The video was directed by Steve Barron, whose work included video direction of “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League and “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science,” Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” and Bryan Adams’ “Summer Of ’69.” Their label, Warner Bros., promoted the song through the video, getting movie theaters to show it before films which led to MTV air time. From there, radio stations began playing the song, and by August it was in the US Top 40. The song continued to climb the charts until it hit #1 on October 19, where it stayed for one week.
Mr. Mister - Broken Wings
“Broken Wings” was the first single from Mr. Mister’s second album, Welcome to the Real World. Released in September 1985 he song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1985, where it remained for two weeks. The music video for “Broken Wings” which was filmed in black & white features lead vocalist and bassist Richard Page driving through the desert in a classic Ford Thunderbird (the first allusion to birds). There is a scene where Page is sitting in a church when a Hawk flies in through the window and lands next to him on the pew and they exchange a gaze. The full band is also featured in performance scenes. Also appearing in the video are an unknown man and woman dancing tango. They are only shown from the waist down. At the end of the video Page is seen next to the Thunderbird with the vehicle’s hood open, symbolizing broken wings. Clay Aiken covered this in his 2006.
Tears for Fears - Head Over Heels
“Head Over Heels” was the tenth UK single release from Tears for Fears. It was one of five hit singles from their third album, Songs from the Big Chair. The video to “Head Over Heels” was directed by Nigel Dick, who would later direct Britney Spears in “Baby One More Time.” There are many very random images in the video, like a rabbi and the chimp, a Ghostbusters moment with a card catalog drawer and flying cards. The song was later used in the 2001 movie Donnie Darko. The director said that the scene in which the song was used was written specifically with the song in mind.
Starship - We Built This City
In 2011, a Rolling Stone poll named “We Built This City” the worst song of the 1980s despite the fact that this single reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on November 16, 1985. It did much better than Starship’s other 80’s hit “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now”, which was featured on the soundtrack for Mannequin in which Andrew McCarthy falls in love with a department store mannequin played by Kim Catrall, best known now as Samantha from Sex in the City. Oh Jefferson Airplane…what the hell happened to you?
John Parr - St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)
“St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” is a song recorded by John Parr, which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 7, 1985, remaining there for two weeks. It was the main theme for the film St. Elmo’s Fire, which coincidentally also featured Andrew McCarthy. He was busy that year, although neither of these movies roles could compare to his seminal work in 1989’s Weekend at Bernie’s. Several members of Toto appeared on John Parr’s record. The song was briefly heard during an episode of The Facts of Life. In 2012, John Parr re-recorded the song with new lyrics, dubbed “Tim Tebow’s Fire”, to honor Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos. Parr said, “I was inspired by Tim Tebow so I wanted to modify the lyrics... in his honor of the way that he lives his life as being a great example.”