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Flashback Video: 'Cult of Personality' by Living Colour

Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.


This issue we will cover "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour. It was released in July of 1988 as the second single from their debut studio album, Vivid. "Cult of Personality" did break onto the pop charts until March of 1989 and would eventually peak at #13 in May of 1989. It won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1990. Even though it came out at the very end of the '80s, I consider it to be one of the very best songs of the decade and even since. You just can't help but rock out to this song.


The music video for "Cult of Personality" was directed by Drew Carolan. He had limited experience before directing this one with credits for directing videos for Ace Frehley's "Do Ya" in 1984 and Brenda K. Starr's "Breakfast in Bed" in 1987. After "Cult of Personality", Carolan also directed Living Colour's videos for "Open Letter (to a Landlord)" and "Middle Man" as well as Bobby Brown "Roni", Julian Lennon "You're the One", B-52's "Channel Z", Red Hot Chili Peppers "Higher Ground" and "Knock Me Down" in the '80s. In the early '90s he directed two videos for Heavy D. & the Boyz including "Now That We Found Love" among several others.


For the "Cult of Personality" music video, Living Colour perform the song on a sound stage with black and white video clips of historical figures playing throughout. Both the song and video start with a clip of Malcolm X from his "Message to the Grass Roots" speech (originally delivered in November 1963). The video also features clips of others mentioned in the lyrics like Benito Mussolini, John F. Kennedy, Joseph Stalin, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr along with other historical footage. Here is the music video for "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour...



The "Cult of Personality" music video won the 1989 MTV Video Music Award for Best Group Video as well as for Best New Artist.

Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!

3 comments

3 Comments


Jason
Jason
May 17, 2023

One of the greatest guitar solos of the 80s. Incredibly underappreciated band.

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Jason
Jason
May 17, 2023
Replying to

We haven't hashed out the positions yet, but I can guarantee it will make the top ten for sure.

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