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 "Jack & Diane" by John Cougar Mellencamp. This "little ditty" was released as the second single from his American Fool album in July of 1982. "Jack & Diane" was a huge success reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October of 1982 and holding the top spot for four weeks. In 2001, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) published a list of 365 songs called the "Songs of the Century" and "Jack & Diane" ranked #287 on that incredible list.
The music video for "Jack & Diane" was directed by Bruce Gowers who was quite prolific directing music videos in the late-70s into the early '80s before moving on to larger projects. In the '70s, Gowers worked extensively with Queen (including "Bohemian Rhapsody"), Rod Stewart, Genesis, Ambrosia, Supertramp and even Michael Jackson (including "Rock With You"). He also worked with Mellencamp on songs from his 1980 album Nothin' Matters and What If It Did and then continued to work on his videos for his American Fool album including "Jack & Diane". In the '80s, Gowers worked with Rush (including "Tom Sawyer"), Prince (including "Controversy" and "1999") and REO Speedwagon among many more. Gowers went on to direct some big television specials including 1982's Eddie Murphy: Delirious, 1986's Robin Williams: An Evening at the Met and the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards among other work in the '80s. He has continued to be extremely active especially in major television specials for decades following also including nine seasons of American Idol from 2002-2011 and 75 episodes of Whose Line Is it Anyway from 1998-2007.
For the "Jack & Diane" video, Mellencamp himself played the role of Jack and actress/model and his then wife Victoria Granucci played the role of Diane. The two were married at the time (from 1981-1989), but the song is not about them it is about fictional characters. Pictures of the two (from their personal collections) were shown as children growing up and then eventually included little vignettes of them together which were filmed on 8mm in different spots in their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. One box on the screen featured Mellencamp performing the song (filmed the same day he had previously filmed the video for "Hurts So Good"). Other boxes popped up with white-gloved hands providing the memorable hand claps featured in the song. Everybody remembers those hand claps, but they weren't even supposed to be in the final song. The clapping was only used to help keep time and was supposed to be removed in the final mix, but they smartly chose to leave them in there once they realized that they really made the song work. The music video was in heavy rotation in the early years of MTV. Here is the music video for "Jack & Diane" by John Cougar Mellencamp...
This has always been one of my favorite rock songs of the early '80s. It also happens to rank highly on both our Top '80s Songs with Girl Names in the Title as well as our Top '80s Songs with Guy Names in the Title lists.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!