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 "Dancing in the Street" by David Bowie & Mick Jagger. Their cover of the 1964 Martha & the Vandellas classic was released in late August 1985 to raise money for the Live Aid famine relief charity. Their version topped the UK Singles Chart for four weeks while also hitting #1 in at least seven other countries. It reached #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the seventh and last top ten hit for Bowie and the only solo one for Jagger. The original plan was to perform a track together live at Live Aid in July, with Bowie performing at Wembley Stadium in London and Jagger at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, until it was realized that the satellite link-up would cause a half-second delay that would make this impossible unless either Bowie or Jagger lip-synched their part (something neither artist was willing to do). So the decision was made to create a music video and show that on the big screen at each venue during Live Aid.
The music video for "Dancing in the Street" was directed by David Mallet who is another one of the most prolific video directors of the '80s. He co-founded MGMM along with Brian Grant, Russell Mulcahy and Scott Millaney. Mallet directed Joan Jett "Bad Reputation", Iron Maiden "Run to the Hills", Def Leppard "Photograph", Def Leppard "Rock of Ages", Def Leppard "Foolin'", Billy Idol "White Wedding", David Bowie "Let's Dance", David Bowie "China Girl", Queen "Radio Ga Ga", Scorpions "Rock You Like a Hurricane", Queen "I Wanna Break Free", Billy Idol "Eyes Without a Face", Kool & the Gang "Fresh", AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long", AC/DC "Who Made Who", and Queen "I Want it All" among many others and continued to work into the '90s (mostly with AC/DC).
The "Dancing in the Street" music video was filmed at London Dockland (Spillers Millennium Mills) just four hours after a rough mix of the track was completed. Just thirteen hours after the start of recording, the song and video were both completed. Despite Bowie and Jagger being generational pop icons and often considered to be ultra cool, the video became somewhat infamous for its cheesy choreography. Mallet had directed the performers to improvise some dance moves. Jagger did some of his patented moves which prompted the often stoic Bowie to play up to the cameras, too. At one point, the two are singing at each other nose to nose. The video ends by zooming in on Bowie and Jagger shaking their butts in unison. At the time, many accepted the video for what it was - an effort to raise money and awareness for charity - but looking back it does make the two superstars look a little silly. Here is the music video for "Dancing in the Street" by David Bowie & Mick Jagger...
In addition to showing the video at Live Aid and receiving airplay on MTV, the "Dancing in the Street" music video was also shown in movie theaters before films in the Fall of 1985 as well as the following summer before showings of Ruthless People, for which Jagger had recorded the theme song.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!