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Flashback Video: 'I Can't Wait' by Nu Shooz

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 "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz. Even though they originally recorded it in the summer of 1984 and it became a regional hit in the Portland area in spring of 1985, it was a remix which caught the attention of Atlantic Records which signed Nu Shooz to a contract in January of 1986. That Dutch remix version by Pieder “Hithouse” Slaghuis is the one featuring the stuttering vocal ("b-b-baby, I-I-I can't wait"). This version of “I Can’t Wait” was released as a single in February of 1986, the first from their Poolside album which was certified gold later that year. It would reach the top of the Billboard Dance chart by the end of March and would peak at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-June while spending 15 weeks in the Top 40. "I Can't Wait" became an international hit reaching the Top 10 in at least eight other countries. It is one of my favorite songs of the decade and has a pretty unique music video as well.

The music video for "I Can't Wait" was directed by Jim Blashfield using animation techniques including stop motion which he had applied in his short films. He had previously created the video for "And She Was" for Talking Heads and would later create some other memorable '80s videos including Michael Jackson's "Leave Me Alone" and Tears For Fears' "Sowing the Seeds of Love". For this video, Blashfield created a surreal, whimsical environment featuring Valerie Day singing the song sitting at a desk, repairing a coffeepot which has a shark lurking in it, while tools and other oddities pass into the frame and out again. A well-behaved dog sits nearby, wearing sunglasses. According to Day, "Turns out he [Blashfield] completely improvised the whole video shoot." That would explain some of the randomness that is going on.

When asked to describe the video, Blashfield has said, "It is an experiment to see what results when you take a line from the video 'tell me what it's all about' and decide that Valerie is a some kind of a scientist with an interest in small appliance repair instead of somebody waiting, lovesick, for a phone call, and let everything follow logically from that." What resulted is a combination of the random and surreal to make a very interesting and visually compelling video that an awesome song like this deserves. Enjoy watching the very bizarre and very entertaining music video for "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz...

The part near the end when she opens the box and all of the wiggly images come floating out is supposed to be "revealing all knowledge known to humankind" and actually came from an animated film by award-winning animator and visual artist Roger Kukes.

I had the pleasure of an interview with Valerie Day and John Smith of Nu Shooz. You can check out the whole interview at that link, but here is what Valerie Day had to say about MTV and the art of the music video:

It added a whole new dimension to the music experience. I’ve always been into working the space where different art forms intersect. Not that all music videos are art, but so much creative collaboration between visual artists, filmmakers, animators, and musicians happened because of MTV.

"I Can't Wait" is certainly an example of when music video is an artform.

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



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