I love a good bad movie. You know them: Meteor Man, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Undercover Brother [Editor’s note: Undercover Brother is a brilliant movie, making it good good. —P.J.], Pootie Tang, Crash. Films that are laughably absurd, either on purpose or by accident, but still manage to entertain.
Feature films and documentaries have been made about those films, but an overlooked segment of delightful terribleness is music videos. They, too, can be so bad they are great, so absurd they become accidentally profound. (Note that I am commenting on the videos, not the songs.)
10. “Somebody’s Watching Me,” by Rockwell
Rockwell’s video does its best to give the feel of a 1980s horror film with the continuous first-person shot and the cuts to macabre faces and images à la Brian De Palma. It might have worked if he had tried to act; instead, he just relies on the fact that he is light-skinned with curly hair. Two observations: 1) I still can’t believe they got Michael Jackson to sing the chorus, and 2) someone should have told him his boxers were showing in the shower.
9. “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off,” by Jermaine Stewart
This is a song about how lovers don’t have to take their clothes off while a woman in the foreground consistently takes her clothes off as she is splashed with water, accosted by wind that makes her dress fly up, and wears a graduation mortarboard and tassel. The late, great singer is exuberant and full of life in the video, but the campiness of the direction is too much to overcome.
8. “You Are Not Alone,” by Michael Jackson
The King of Pop was a music-video auteur. “Thriller,” “Bad,” “Beat It”: They are classics. This video featuring Lisa Marie Presley is one of his few missteps because in it, he tries desperately to be sexy and fails miserably. Related: How long are we going to delay having a conversation about Michael’s kids? Old Mike may have been light bright, but young Mike’s genes are still of the brown-skin, dark, curly-hair variety. Too soon? Never mind.
7. “Twisted,” by Keith Sweat
Usher’s “Nice and Slow” is a VERY close second on the ’90s absurd-R&B-action video rankings, but Mr. Raymond is earnest in his illogical storyline, while Keith Sweat does little more than his sexy detective face. The robbery/murder is poorly planned and executed, and Sweat has one reaction to everything that happens: bored, sleepy and high. Song is fire, though.
6. “Keep on Loving Me,” by the Whispers
A ubiquitous GIF comes from your misogynistic uncle’s favorite video. I’ll leave the hair, mustaches and suits alone because they are a product of their time (I bet you can find an Easter Sunday picture of your grandfather or father wearing those exact-same threads). Yet I am confused by this video. The five men following a woman thing is creepy; what would they have done if they caught her? And, finally, where the hell are they going?
[Editor’s note: The views of Law Ware do not necessarily reflect the views of VSB or, at least Panama Jackson, who thinks this video—and song, for that matter—is one of the best he’s ever seen in his entire life and hopes to re-create it at some point and will be the one wearing the red sports jacket. —P.J.]
5. “Word Up,” by Cameo
Cameo must have been trying to make a bad video. Everything from the police opening to the band-member intros to the fact that he stands in front of a New York City bridge while wearing a leather jacket, a body suit and a red jockstrap cup screams intentionality. I have always wondered if that was, in fact, LeVar Burton dancing at the beginning of the video. I’m sure it’s not, but a man can dream.
4. “Must Be the Money,” by Deion Sanders
This begins with a flashback of him wearing a fake Jheri-curl wig as he rhymes the words nine and dotted line. Then it transitions into a four-minute montage of Primetime looking into the mirror admiring himself as women fawn over him. We could call this the first reality show.
3. “Put Your Mouth on Me,” by Eddie Murphy
I cannot overstate how big Eddie Murphy was in the ’80s. After 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop and Raw, he was so powerful that dude released a trash song and it went to No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song that was the inspiration for this video, however, was off the second, less successful album, So Happy.
Yes, the song is about what you think, and Murphy spends the entire song either lying on a couch looking like a knockoff Prince Hakim or standing on a stage giving googly eyes to the camera, channeling Prince. This is a poor man’s Michael Jackson video.
2. “The Rain,” by Oran Juice Jones
This is most known for the words “You gotta get on outta here with that
alley-cat-coat-wearin’ hush-puppy-shoe-wearin’ crumb cake I saw you with … ,” but the video is just as absurd as those lyrics. In fact, this could be a toxic-black-masculinity tutorial. He stalks her and uses money to assert power, all while wearing flawless makeup and never standing in the rain despite singing about precipitation and wearing a raincoat. This would be No. 1 if not for the red gloves in …
1. “Don’t Look Any Further,” by Dennis Edwards
The red-gloved hands that seem to be disembodied, the backdrop, the gum he chews throughout, the wink, the faces he makes. This is the best worst video in every possible way. The song bumps, but the video is so bad in so many amazing ways that it deserves to be on repeat at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I wonder if the great Timothy Anne Burnside can hook that up. I have only one question: What brand of gum was Dennis chewing in the video?