Worst music video ever

I was doing a little YouTube nostalgia surfing with the bambini, and after our fair share of old cartoons I decided to dredge for early 80s music videos. After enjoying the brilliance of “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls I searched for “Saftey Dance” by Men Without Hats. And after watching that video, it brought back some really strong feelings, namely how much I hated that video. Here it is, and below you’ll find my brief rationale as to why the is the worst music video ever made.

Now I loved this song, it came out when I was in seventh grade, and I remember thinking that it was up there with Def Leppard’s “Pyromania.” That said, once I saw the video I was forever scarred. I mean how can an 80s new wave band who should be modeling their work on the likes of Devo and Kraftwerk offer up a video set in a kind of Renaissance fair environment? The whole renaissance fair thing is perhaps the most odious aesthetic ever, and having a 1980s dance/new wave song teleported back to the idyllic fields of maypoles and horse drawn carriages is not only wrong, but unforgivable. Where’s the hairspray, parachute pants, and the zippers? How about the insane eye make up and mesh shirts? All they could come up with is bodkins and codpieces? It damaged me when I first saw it, and it hurt just as much last night. What have I done to my children?!

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19 Responses to Worst music video ever

  1. Brian says:

    I laughed out loud reading this post, and can’t disagree on the whole Renaissance Fair aesthetic thing… But I came across this video again recently, and think it makes a real run at the money:


    Pretty mullet boy is a hard-working mechanic, an Australian whose guitar embodies the American dream, partying in his motel room with interpretive dancers (with an appreciative greasemonkey chorus). A hard rock song that doesn’t rock.

    Speaking of mullet rock – seen this early molten Bolton?


    Also, I liked this video a lot when I was 12 – and I think it kind of redeems Safety Dance somehow:


  2. Andy Rush says:

    It’s because you had a bad break-up with a midget isn’t it.

  3. Sorry, I could never do MWH and perhaps it was their identity management (i.e., their videos) that killed it for me.

    My college roommate was into the Fixx, Wang Chung, Starship, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I had trouble with all of it, man!

    While I adore pop music and have a soft place for bad 80s video pop, my favorite 80’s video is Bastards of Young by the Placemats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ap0p7mhu4w0

    So dada it feels good!

  4. Andy Rush says:

    . . . and this . . .


    Makes “Safety Dance” look like a frickin’ masterwork!

  5. Mikhail says:

    It’s because they look like hippies, but cleaner, and prance about doing hippie things. Admit it, Rev.

  6. Reverend says:

    @Brian: That first links a gem, but who the hell is John Parr? He was hot! The Michael Bolton video rules, I always knew he was a serious rocker, just never did my homework. As for the final link, so Men With Out Hats actually contracted the midget for several music videos? And he was stilled dressed as a jester and that awful medieval aesthetic persists. What were they thinking? The dancing to is quite bad, but “I like.”

    @csessums: That is the Andy Warhol of Music Videos, genius! In many ways an antidote to MTV.

    @Andy: As we discussed, these videos are indeed terrible, and they are certainly in the running, but unlike Safety Dance they were part of the popular consciousness, and I’m sure there wasn’t any expectations associated with them. That said, they are hysterical. I think Jerry’s nomination for Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar is closer to the mark though (http://youtube.com/watch?v=lH3XwU5kXHU), despite the fact that I always liked it 🙂

    @Mikhail: I was actually thinking about how the hippie aesthetic and the Renaissance aesthetic are similar in many ways. Which means I don’t totally disagree with your reasoning here 😉

  7. Scott Leslie says:

    OK, maybe I will give you a pass because, well, you are the Very Reverend Divine Goof formerly known as @jimgroom, but… you take that back about Men Without Hats! Where would we *all* be without “The Safety Dance.” Really. I mean, the 80’s just wouldn’t have been the 80’s without this video. Do we need to throw down, Rev. The power of Gu vs the power of the Goof?

  8. Reverend says:


    Don’t get me wrong, I truly love the song, but the video is an aberration of epic proportions. And deep down inside you know this. You have to come to terms with the reality, the right Reverend implores you to re-watch that pagan propaganda and recognize that it is antithetical to everything special about the 80s, namely cocaine and Huey Lewis.

    Also, what the hell is Gu?

  9. Scott Leslie says:

    Gu is what you get covered in when you mess with the Ru of Gu http://www.flickr.com/photos/nessman/2597896017/. Don’t pretend you don’t know the Gu, Divine Goof. We have met many times before. And you always end up extremely sticky, almost like you were dancing in some mock medieval faire in a jesters suit…

  10. Reverend says:


    You are officially my favorite psycho. You are out of your mind and I love it.And let me tell you something, mister, the Ru of Gu is very, very hot! Flickr should be illegal for people like you.

  11. Scott Leslie says:

    Jim, you just made my day. “Favourite psycho” – I’m getting a bit verklempt here. I’m pretending to hug you right now.

  12. Mikhail says:

    Ok, so one way to contextualize the video’s renaissance faire, quasi-medieval aesthetic is as a play on or response to that medieval Anglo-Saxon mystic aesthetic we get in so much British heavy metal including, perhaps most famously in Led Zeppelin. Here, though, it’s happy-go-lucky, carnivalesque which is what you get when you add non-sinister midgets.

    Say what you will about the video, it makes sense to read it as a new-Romantic, ludic appropriation (and subsequent domestication) of elements of a dark, bleak, and strangely reverent genre. Also, that bit of a montage at the end lends it an unexpected bit of Cold War anxiety which, almost but not quite, rescues the video for me insofar as it recasts all that frolicking as an attempt to escape the specter of what then felt inevitable — global thermal nuclear war. Props for that at least.

    And, finally, this, which has nothing to do with the safety dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjbpuK_H2VY&feature=related

  13. Reverend says:


    My kingdom for a “non-sinister midget.” That, my friend, is an epic comment And just goes to prove what a shame it is you don’t blog.

    I have a different theory for the genesis of the Renaissance faire quality of a strain of British rock, as well as this odd ball New Wave band. It is empire envy. After the Brits lost the empire to the rising star across the pond, they had to return to a time before true culture in order to erase the fact that the colonies were kicking some global ass.

    More than that, the very fact that they had to return to this cultural womb made them ever more cognizant that the very ideas they were trying to re-appropriate new origins for, i.e. Rock and Roll, had always already been an American product. Making such a mythical return to the Renaissance aesthetic not only painful for their US fan base who had been able to exempt themselves from such ridiculousness given their relatively late arrival onto the global scene, but a clear case of unbridled and misdirected nationalism that ultimately resulted in bands like Screwdriver and political organizations like the National Front.

    In fact, Renaissance fires are in many ways responsible for the rash of violence against extra-nationals throughout the globe because it premises beginnings and identities that no one who wasn’t from England could ever take half-way seriously. Point being, Renaissance faires have always already been the precursor to hate crimes, and this video is tantamount to a happy-go-lucky hate crime.

    Can you dig?

  14. Scott Leslie says:

    Rev, “empire envy?” That sir, trumped any of my psychosis twofold. You do know that Men Without Hats were Canadian, right…. And we don’t envy anyone (well, except maybe New Zealanders, what with all the grass and sheep, a perfect place for a medieval faere…)

  15. Reverend says:


    What? Men Without Hats are Canadian? Well, there goes my theory…but wait, wasn’t Canada still part of England in the early 80s? If I recall correctly, you got your independence sometime last month, am I right with this? How’s that transition going by the way?

  16. Serena says:

    I’m surprisingly okay with that music video. In fact, I think the medieval theme *almost* redeems the music.

    But then, we already know I’m a dirty hippie.

  17. Reverend says:


    I knew you were a Renaissance Faire hippie. What is the appeal of this aesthetic? Is it the figure of the long-haired hippie is jester-like regalia, or the idea of being closer to the squalid earth 🙂

  18. Paul says:

    You guys wanted a Kiwi Music Video with Sheep & Grass?

    Well grab a load of this……


    Lamb on the menu, anyone?



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