When Bands Go Bad

I’ve been meaning for a while to post about a dilemma I’ve had.

It’s sad when a good band gets sucked into the dark side by a video director with a “vision”. Anyone can make a crappy video, but it’s especially painful to me when it’s a successful band that should know better. Even worse when it’s a song I actually enjoy.

Given that narrowed definition, I’ve been debating which of two videos I’ve seen truly qualifies as the worst video ever… the one that does the most damage to a song I really like.

In one corner, we have that fusion band-turned-power ballad machine Journey, with Separate Ways.

Do I really have to say anything here? They’re standing out on a dock, looking all angsty and playing their air instruments. Who talked them into this one? I love Steve Perry’s voice, but I have to admit that his over-dramatic posing was bad enough when he was on stage performing. It’s downright painful here. Without a microphone to clutch, he looks like he might rip out his own heart at any moment. Either that, or he really needs more fiber in his diet. You can almost hear Neal Schon thinking, “I left Santana for this?!?”

It’s a close fight, but in the other corner we have a truly worthy competitor: Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon.

Okay. So live in my head for a moment on this one. I know it’s a cheesy ballad. I know Kevin Cronin looks really weird with the big hair and the overly-sincere expression. Try to look past that, though, because there’s so much more here to make fun of. 🙂

First, there’s the whole kid-with-the-teddy-bear thing. That’s just weird. Wait for the run-up into the first chorus, though. Watch what happens as Cronin sings, “You’re a candle in the window/On a cold dark winter’s night.” I guess the director thinks we can’t handle metaphor. This becomes a theme.

In the chorus, we get the kid who’s that guy: he’s wearing the sweatshirt of the band whose video he’s in (in case we forgot who we’re watching). Quick shot of Gary Richrath (guitar) wondering how he got roped into playing ballads. That, and it appears that they’re rolling Greg Philbin (bass) around on a dolly.

The real gem, though, happens at the beginning of the second verse: “I’ve been running around in circles in my mind.” I wanted to scream when I saw that the first time. In the final chorus, we get a single image with the candle, the window, the cold dark winter’s night, and the ship (which, inexplicably, isn’t being brought into the shore or having its oars thrown away). More band members on dollies.

Side question, by the way. Does anyone recognize the old man at the end? I want to say I’ve seen him on TV or in movies.

*shakes head* I can’t decide which is worse.

One reply on “When Bands Go Bad”

This is quite the quandary here. They both have more cheese than a Swiss dairy farm but I must say the REO Speedwagon is far and away the winner (or loser) in this king of the cheese face off. While the Journey song does have the drummer playing a kit with barrels as the drums and hub caps as symbols, the candle in the window did it for me. Also the lead singer of REO is singing “I can’t fight this feeling any more” with the passion of Robert Picardo treating a phaser burn.

Also Separate Ways is just a better song.

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