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 "She Blinded Me with Science" by Thomas Dolby. It was first released in October of 1982 in Dolby's native UK, but was only moderately successful there. It wasn't until it was released in the U.S. in 1983 and the music video aired on MTV that it climbed the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #5 in May. I remember the song catching my attention because it was so different than anything else I was hearing on the radio at the time.
An interesting fact about "She Blinded Me with Science" is that the music video was actually conceived and storyboarded before the song was even written. Dolby added the song title and wrote the song to fit the planned video. He then directed the music video himself along with a crew from Steve Barron's Limelight Films. The speaking voice parts in the song and the video were done by Magnus Pyke, a famous TV show host for a children's educational show in England. His trademark was yelling "Science!" throughout the show. Pyke would play the part of the doctor at the Home for Deranged Scientists.
Here's an excerpt from Thomas Dolby's memoir titled THE SPEED OF SOUND: Breaking the Barriers Between Music and Technology:
EMI gave us the budget for a long single day’s shoot on the “Science” video, and my call was at 5:15 a.m. The location was the Holme, a fabulous Georgian building and gardens in the middle of Regent’s Park, and we were lucky with the weather. The lighting cameraman had a pretty good handle on how to compose the shots I’d described, so my job was to direct the actors, grab an occasional peek through the lens, yell “Action!” and jump into the frame. I’d hired Dr. Magnus Pyke, a well- known TV personality and scientist, to play the part of the mad psychiatrist.
I bumped into Dr. Pyke many years later, in Edinburgh at a conference. He’d just returned from a lecture tour of the USA. I asked him how it had gone. “Badly, Dolby,” he spat back. “Every time I walked down the sidewalk someone would sneak up behind me and yell ‘SCIENCE!’ at the top of their lungs! It seems that bloody MTV video of yours is more widely recognized than my body of scientific work.”
Here is the music video for "She Blinded Me with Science" by Thomas Dolby...
Such a unique song and Dolby is such a unique talent. It still amazes me that the video for this song was conceived before the song itself. I am left wondering if that had ever happened before or since with any hit songs. Science!!
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!