It’s really indisputable that the 1980’s are the golden age of the music video; sure, fancy effects and movie-level cinematography came later. But there was no topping the 80’s for sheer excitement for the medium… especially if you add movies to the mix.
While in years since, it’s impossible to count the number of videos that have featured cameo roles from big-name movie and TV actors, the Eighties was the heyday of a very specific subset of this trend: Videos that feature the stars of the same movie that the song is featured in. We’re talking footage shot just for the promo, not movie footage edited in. It’s a unique level of marketing the flick that you really don’t see much these days.
For today’s Friday Five, here’s a snapshot of the best 80’s soundtrack tunes with videos that feature the movie’s stars:
Cyndi Lauper – “The Goonies ‘r’ Good Enough”
This was a no-brainer considering The Goonies is featured in the Guardians theme, but even beyond that – has there ever been a video so Eighties AND so epic? It’s in two parts! (This was appointment TV when it premiered on MTV, kids.) And it would have been one thing if just the Goonies kids (minus Kerri Green, who wasn’t available for the shoot) were in it. But this is Cyndi Lauper we’re talking about – the diva didn’t make a move without Captain Lou Albano and half of the cream of the professional wrestling crop following her lead in 1985. Short of the Fratellis, could you ask for a better trio of villains than Roddy Piper, Freddie Blassie and The Iron Sheik?!
(Part 1 is posted at the top of the page; here’s part 2, featuring a surprise cameo by The Bangles, keep your eyes peeled on the pirate ship!):
Ben E. King – “Stand By Me”
This is an interesting case of a song that pre-dates the film being re-released with a music video to go with it. (And it might not have been the case had the film not been retitled; it was first called The Body, which was the original title of Stephen King’s short story.) After an extended bit of archival footage, soul legend Ben E. King appears in this promo for his legendary hit, as do the film’s stars: The very young, OMG SO SMOL Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix, seemingly in-character as they’re slunk down in the front row in Chucks and jeans. In light of Phoenix’s untimely death in 1993, this one is especially poignant. (They even let the oft-time budding musician strum a guitar in the clip.)
Michael McDonald – “Sweet Freedom”
First things first: Running Scared is a seriously underrated entry in the buddy-cop movie genre and if you haven’t seen it, go watch it immediately. This video definitely gives you a taste of the awesome chemistry between Billy Crystal and the late, great Gregory Hines, in-character as two Chicago PD detectives who, in the film, spend their off-time daydreaming about retiring to Miami to open a bar together. And what do you know, the video features them schlepping off to Miami to hang out in a bar… with Michael McDonald! The alpha and omega of soft-rock crooners of the 1980’s! (You wanna bet Crystal does an amazing Michael McDonald impression? Yah-mo-bet he does.)
Billy Ocean – “When the Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going)”
These are all great clips, but if we’re picking favorites… this is my personal fave example of this genre. The Jewel of the Nile is not nearly as good as its predecessor, Romancing the Stone, and yet Eddy Grant’s eponymous title tune from the first film is totally forgettable. Meanwhile the sequel graced us with this almost absurdly catchy 80’s pop nugget courtesy of super-smooth Billy Ocean. With a video that not only features A-list movie stars Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito, but they’re all in white tuxes doing adorkable dance steps and lip-synching the backing vocals. Top. Notch. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough to convince you, fast-forward to 2:50. Three words: DeVITO SAX SOLO. Yaaaaasssss!!!
Ray Parker Jr. – “Ghostbusters”
On the one hand, it’s one of the pinnacle soundtrack tunes of the decade from a massive blockbuster hit. On the other… well, actually Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Hudson don’t appear until the very end, strutting down Broadway with Ray Parker Jr. So technically, it counts for this exercise! Truth be told, though, it’s the folks who don’t appear in the movie who are peppered throughout the Ghostbusters video to shout “GHOSTBUSTERS!” and then go away again that is the most entertaining celeb business. Who could it possibly be next?! Watch the clip and see if you remember them all. (Fun fact!: One of them is John Candy, who the part of Louis Tully was originally written for; the character morphed a bit before they shot, and his SCTV co-star Rick Moranis was cast instead.)