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 "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell. This song was released in January of 1984 and became a massive worldwide hit for Rockwell. A big reason for the song's success is a certain guest vocalist who contributes to the chorus. That guest vocalist would be none other than Michael Jackson at the height of his Thriller popularity. Many don't know that Rockwell is actually Kennedy Gordy, the son of Motown founder and CEO Berry Gordy. In addition to the Motown connection, Rockwell's sister Hazel was married to Jermaine Jackson (who also sings backing vocals on the track). That is how Rockwell had access to Michael Jackson, but Rockwell was actually estranged from his father at the time he created "Somebody's Watching Me". That didn't stop his father from recognizing a hit and releasing the single and subsequent album.
"Somebody's Watching Me" was hugely successful peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. in March of 1984. It received an Honorable Mention on our list of the Top Songs that Peaked at #2. The song also had international success topping the charts in Belgium, France, and Spain while reaching the Top 7 in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and the UK. Again, you cannot underestimate the value of Michael Jackson's vocals contributing to the song's popularity. Michael did not, however, appear in the music video for the hit.
The music video for "Somebody's Watching Me" was directed by Francis Delia. Prior to this, he had directed the music video for Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio" and a couple for The Ramones including "Psychotherapy". He later directed Weird Al Yankovic's "I Lost on Jeopardy" as well as Starship's "We Built This City" and "Sara". He then went on to direct some television including episodes of Max Headroom, Crime Story and Friday the 13th: The Series.
The music video for "Somebody's Watching Me" really underscores the song's tone of paranoia. Rockwell plays an "average man" who is convinced people are out to get him. Parts are shot first-person through Rockwell's eyes letting you see what he sees or thinks he's seeing. The video has almost a haunted house feel to it including imagery of disembodied heads, creepy images, a graveyard where he sees a tombstone engraved with his own name (as well as a shirtless white guy wearing a diaper) and even multiple shower scenes likely referencing Psycho. The director, Delia, even used his own daughter as the blonde girl coming out from under the bed towards the end. Rockwell's visions get more and more real as his fears close in on him. Enjoy the creepiness as here is the music video for "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell...
"Somebody's Watching Me" was used in the first episode of the hit series Miami Vice in September of 1984 helping extend its popularity. The song has been used in several movies and commercials since then and has gone on to be a perennial Halloween favorite as well.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!