Updated: Feb 14, 2021
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 "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung. The band's popularity had already been growing after their previous album Points on the Curve had several hits including "Dance Hall Days" and they did the soundtrack for the 1985 film To Live and Die in L.A., but Wang Chung went into a new stratosphere with the release of the song "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and the subsequent music video in 1986. The catchy song is very light-hearted and somewhat silly especially with the genius idea of not only just using the band's name in the song, but using it as a verb. To "wang chung" would now become part of the pop culture lexicon. The single was released in September of 1986 and would rocket up the charts peaking at #2 right towards the end of the year. A huge part of the song's success is also owed to its distinctive music video and the airplay it received on MTV. The video was directed by Godley & Creme who were always trying new techniques to create something eye-catching and different. They certainly triumphed in that regard creating one of the many iconic videos of the decade. Here is the music video for "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung...
I had the pleasure of an interview with Jack Hues and here is what he had to say about the unique concept for the music video: The video that everybody loved at that time was Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” – so we wanted to do something with stop-frame animation. Godley and Creme, as the leading video directors at that time, were brought in to work on it and they took our suggestions and came up with the wooden box location, the “serious” expressions to contrast with the party song, and everybody in black – making the whole thing quite austere. We really enjoyed working with them. The shoot was easy as I just stood as still as I could and sang the song to the camera 10 times. Nick did the same and then some poor guy edited the takes frame by frame!! Actually it was an automated editing process that worked because Godley & Creme designed the idea of the video for a particular piece of software called a Grass Valley switcher that could cut back and forth between sources at two-frame intervals. It also turns out that the video was actually banned for a while in the UK by the BBC from airing due to a medical expert retained by the BBC’s screening committee claiming it could possibly trigger epileptic fits. I am not sure if there was ever any actual evidence of that happening to anybody, but that could be part of the reason why the song seemed to be much more popular in North America than it was in the UK. Another interesting note about the song is that Siedah Garrett sang backup vocals on this track. She would become more widely known in 1987 when she appeared on Michael Jackson's Bad album as the co-writer of "Man In The Mirror" and as Jackson's duet partner on "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" is certainly one of those songs that can transport me back to 1986 in an instant.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!