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Flashback Video: 'Dreams' by Van Halen

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 "Dreams" by Van Halen. The song was released in May 1986 as the second single from their 5150 album (which was the first to feature Sammy Hagar on vocals). It was not as big of a pop hit as some of their other singles only peaking at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of that year. This is one of my favorite Van Hagar songs and I remember it especially well because of its music video.


There were three music videos made for the song. The most well known version was released in 1986 and featured the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels. The other two videos were shot much later in March 1993 from a live performance at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood, California, to celebrate the band's return to the venue after 15 years and to promote the Live: Right Here, Right Now album release.


Van Halen initially refused to make videos for the tracks on the 5150 album because they wanted the fans' first visual experience with Sammy Hagar to come from a live performance. So the record label, Warner Bros., quickly cobbled together a video for "Dreams" by using stock footage of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels performing a variety of aerial stunts with the A-4F Skyhawk II. McDonnell Douglas gave Warner Bros. decade-old stock footage of the Blue Angels flying those iconic jets and it ended up being a perfect match for the inspirational song. The band gave their approval and the Navy was also pleased to assist the effort because the video would help commemorate the Blue Angel’s 40th anniversary. Once all parties were in agreement, the quick-cut and relatively inexpensive video of the Blue Angles executing their signature maneuvers was edited in just three days.


Here is that original music video for "Dreams" by Van Halen...


The "Dreams" music video was originally intended to be aired exclusively on MTV during the July Liberty Weekend celebration of the restoration and centenary of the Statue of Liberty, but the massive response it generated during that weekend took Warner Bros, Van Halen and the Navy by surprise. MTV was reportedly deluged with phone calls from viewers who wanted to know more about the Blue Angels and wanting to see more of the video. All parties were happy to give the viewers what they wanted and the video was allowed to continue in heavy rotation. According to the Navy, “On the heels of the two-hour recruiting commercial that was Top Gun, they now had an electrifying music video by one of the nation’s most popular rock bands being viewed by millions of teenage boys. Navy Recruiting Command was reaching their target audience, and it had cost them nothing." Plus we got a cool music video.

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

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