That this particular music video has become something of a joke over the years is hardly surprising. Anyone lucky enough to have seen it should have realised its comedy potential about 12 seconds in.
It’s been made fun of on Family Guy and in loads of other places, including my own home, but is it really that awful? Is it really that ridiculous and unforgiving? I mean, it’s David Bowie and Mick Jagger, two musical GODS with enough genius to fill a small country!
How bad could it be?
Hm, let’s see…
First of all, it should be said that the song itself is an old one and has had several versions of it done since Martha And The Vandellas came up with it back in 1964, including one by Van Halen I actually personally prefer to the Bowie/Jagger one. It’s a Motown classic which probably wasn’t meant to be sung by two white guys in bright-as-f*** costumes but what the hell, if Van Halen could pull it off then these two could have easily done so as well.
And, in a weird way, they have.
I mean, here’s a very upbeat song that exudes positive vibes and is all about having a good time and here we have a video in which two guys are clearly having a ball being about silly as possible which in turn will put anyone that watches it in a good mood.
Mission accomplished, methinks.
That said, let’s take a closer look at a video which admittedly looks rushed, feels rushed and… was rushed.
We open on a kind of abstract couple of shots, one showing Mick Jagger stamping his feet, another of this weird wall:
You’re confused about why this wall is so important until Jagger makes his glorious entrance:
Sliding into shot, whistling, showing us his “O” face:
And just when you’ve had time to process that Mick Jagger is happily making a complete cartoon of himself, in comes leapin’ Bowie:
He comes in to complete the goofy duo with a little robotic dance move and they’re soon mugging at us, singing away:
We cut to the street, which isn’t so much a street as it is the parking lot behind the recording studio (actually the London Docklands):
They’re dancing, of course, though Jagger’s mostly bouncing and Bowie is either silly-walking or making big stretches like this one:
In an awkward, unexpected close-up, Jagger almost eats Bowie’s entire head and the camera along with it:
And we get to finally see the best buds (with benefits) sing face-to-face and back-to-back:
Like they’re Abba or something.
One of my personal favourite moments comes next when, right in the middle of the song, Jagger stops for a second to drink a Diet Coke:
What looks like a Diet Coke anyway. Whatever it is, I always find it funny that he’s taking time out to do this while Bowie still juggles his bits in the background.
We’re soon back in that house/squat where Jagger and Bowie are dancing in increasingly random ways:
Bowie having one hell of a good time sexily strutting his stuff in those pyjamas of his.
Eventually, we go back outside where Jagger almost punches Bowie in the face in one of his more risky moves:
And we finally end on the single greatest shot in the history of music videos, their asses:
Ok, so it’s a really bad video but, come on, there’s no way these guys aren’t in on the joke. They know this is as silly as it gets but they’re going for it since they know it’s a) a Summer song about letting go and just enjoying hanging out with people while music plays in the streets and b) it’s for a good cause: all the proceeds of the song were given to Live Aid. They could have easily pulled together a much grander, more appropriate video with all the locations mentioned in the song, loads of people dancing in the streets and a real worldwide party, Bollywood-style but I guess having these guys there making prats of themselves was enough to make people buy it and push the song to number 1 in the UK.
So director David Mallet made one of the wackiest videos around but, you know what? It always makes my day and it totally did the job it set out to do so I guess we can’t complain.
*drinks half a can of Diet Coke*
Not too much, anyway.