Saturday, October 17, 2020

I own my neglegence

Shame on me.  I was informed that in my flowing tributes to the late Eddie Van Halen, I failed to post the most iconic, and one of the most popular, music videos of all time:

Yep.  Contrary to Roth's insistence, it was not a performance with a 'light bulb and a $500.00 camera.'  It was well choreographed, had excellent lighting (their concerts were known for their lighting displays), involved multiple takes (note Roth's change in outfits), and was carefully edited and framed camerawork.  In short, it was a professional undertaking meant to look cheap and simple (they don't even pretend not to be lip synching).  This was especially in light of the sudden video craze, as musicians were increasingly stumbling over themselves to make the bigger, more extravagant super-video.  The pinnacle of which was, of course, Michael Jackson's fifteen minute long Thriller mini-movie. 

In typical Van Halen style, it was as much sleight of hand as anything.  It was also a big bridge, for it brought the usually adult level escapades of a hard rock band to a much toned down, even 'family friendly', performance that took the video watching world by storm.  Understand, until MTV and videos, it wasn't easy seeing your favorite performers actually perform.  You might catch them on a Solid Gold episode, or on the Midnight Special (remember that?) if you could stay up that late.  But seeing them cut loose and perform?  Unless you could afford tickets to a concert, it was album covers, magazine pictures (often cut out and hung on bedroom walls), and that was that.  

So Eddie and the gang did the logical thing.  In the spirit of their stage shows, they set aside the production, the sets, the crazy Hollywood costume productions, and just did what made them famous. Eddie looked almost self-conscious while faking his guitar work, Anthony and Alex mugged up the camera work the best they could, and of course Roth hogged the camera and jumped. 

In doing this, they broke that barrier between hard rock/heavy metal and top 40 pop music.  They paved the way for Bon Jovi, Poison, Metallica and other hard rock bands of the 80s and 90s, and helped make hard rock mainstream.  It was one of the last leveling of musical genres in which anyone and everyone could end up on the top of the charts, despite your particular style.

So there you go.  I righted the wrong of not posting this video.  Though in fairness, despite so many stations and football games playing the song in tribute last week, it's fitting that I posted Eruption instead.  After all, this might be their most famous song, but it is keyboards and synthesizers instead of guitar.  And what was Eddie best known for? 

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