Flashback Video: 'Land of Confusion' by Genesis
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 "Land of Confusion" by Genesis. The third single released from their Invisible Touch album in November of 1986, "Land of Confusion" peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, but is still probably best remembered for its awesome (and sometimes nightmarish) music video. The song, with lyrics written by Mike Rutherford, questioned our world's leadership and reflected many uncertainties at the height of the Cold War.
It is reported that after Phil Collins saw a caricatured puppet version of himself on the British TV show Spitting Image, he commissioned the show's creators, Peter Fluck and Roger Law, to create puppets of the entire band, as well as all the characters in the video. One of the most-watched shows of the '80s in Great Britain, Spitting Image originally debuted in 1984 and ran until 1996. The show satirized politics, entertainment, sports and British popular culture of the era. At its peak, the show was watched by 15 million people! The show would often make fun of Genesis, and by hiring their tormentors, the band proved that they could take a joke.
This resulted in a unique and memorable music video starring dozens of caricature puppets. This also resulted in a very expensive music video to make. Each puppet reportedly cost about $10,000 to make. There were well over 60 puppets used, so that is at least $600,000 just for the puppets!
In addition to Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, here is a list of all of the characters that appear in puppet form during the music video (some only for a glimpse) in no particular order: Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Leonid Brezhnev, Benito Mussolini, Ayatollah Khomeini, Mikhail Gorbachev, Muammar Gaddafi, Ian Paisley, Walter Cronkite, Helmut Kohl, Erich Honecker, Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Pete Townshend, Tina Turner, François Mitterand, Ferdinand Marcos, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Meryl Streep, Marlon Brando, Leonard Nimoy, Bob Hoskins, Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon, Bob Hope, Sylvester Stallone, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye Bakker, Lord Lucan, Robert Maxwell, Constantin Chernenko, Steve Davis, Bruce Forsyth, Brian Blessed, Cliff Richard, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Springsteen, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Bette Midler, Hulk Hogan, Prince Edward, Sarah Ferguson, Bill Cosby, Yoko Ono, Sting, Mr. T, Dolly Parton, Pope John Paul II, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Grace Jones, Barbra Streisand, David Bowie and Elton John.
"Land of Confusion" was directed by John Lloyd and Jim Yukich. John Lloyd had worked as a producer/executive producer on Spitting Image, so that made it a natural for him to help direct the puppet portions of the video. Jim Yukich is quite prolific when it comes to music video directing including extensive experience with Phil Collins solo work, Mike + the Mechanics as well as Genesis including their '80s hits "That's All" (1983), "Easy Lover" (1984), "Separate Lives" (1985), "Sussudio" (1985), "One More Night" (1985), "Silent Running" (1985), "Invisible Touch" (1986), "All I Need is a Miracle" (1986), "In Too Deep" (1986), "Throwing It All Away" (1986), "Take Me Home" (1986), "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" (1987), "A Groovy Kind of Love" (1988), "Two Hearts" (1988) and "Another Day in Paradise" (1989). Yukich also worked a lot with Iron Maiden in the early '80s in addition to the following '80s hit videos David Bowie "Modern Love" (1983), Bruce Willis "Respect Yourself" (1987), Eric Carmen "Make Me Lose Control" (1988), REO Speedwagon "Here With Me" (1988), Miami Sound Machine "1-2-3" (1988), Debbie Gibson "Lost in Your Eyes" (1989), Richard Marx "Right Here Waiting" (1989), Michael Jackson "Liberian Girl" (1989) and Gloria Estefan "Don't Wanna Lose You" (1989) among many more from that decade and continuing strong into the '90s. I would have to say that despite this impressive list of '80s music videos, Yukich's greatest work is likely "Land of Confusion". The song and video make for a perfect time capsule for the mid-80s in my opinion and they both can instantly transport me back to that time.
With all of that said, enjoy the music video for "Land of Confusion" by Genesis...
The video for "Land of Confusion" won the short-lived Grammy Award for Best Concept Music Video during the 30th Annual Grammy Awards and it was also nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year in 1987 (but lost all of them to "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel). That is nothing to be ashamed of because I consider "Sledgehammer" to be one of the Top 3 music videos of the entire decade and I wouldn't have "Land of Confusion" too much further behind on that list itself.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!