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 "Speed Demon" by Michael Jackson. This was a track on Michael Jackson's 1988 album Bad. It had been planned to be released as a single after the popularity of its music video which was featured in Moonwalker, but never ended up being released in the U.S. The song is not all that noteworthy itself compared to some of Jackson's other work, but the music video is one of his more under-rated creations in my opinion. "Speed Demon" was the ninth and final short film produced from the Bad album, but was one of first shown in the 1988 Moonwalker anthology film.
The "Speed Demon" music video (really a 10-minute short film) was filmed at the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California and directed by Will Vinton. Featuring his groundbreaking "claymation", Vinton is probably best known for creating and animating the California Raisins starting in 1986 as well as The Noid for Domino's Pizza commercials (The Noid even makes a cameo in this video). The video is a take on Michael trying to escape all of the constant attention and media spotlight. The song/music doesn't even start until about the 4-minute mark. Disguised as a rabbit, Michael tries to avoid overzealous fans and paparazzi on a motorcycle. During the chase, he morphs into other celebrities, namely Sylvester Stallone, Tina Turner and Pee-wee Herman. Not sure why those particular celebs were chosen and maybe why they didn't try to incorporate even more, but it was fun regardless. After he finally evades his pursuers, Michael takes off his rabbit costume and it then suddenly comes to life and challenges him to an extended dance-off. In the end, a passing traffic cop interrupts Michael to point out he is in a "No Dancing Zone", but when Michael turns to show him that he was competing with the rabbit, he sees that the rabbit has disappeared and receives a ticket. The cop's voice is provided by Clancy Brown who is probably best known for his roles in Highlander and Shawshank Redemption. Just as Michael is preparing to leave, the rabbit's head materializes on a nearby rock formation which nods to him and smiles.
Here is the music video for "Speed Demon" by Michael Jackson...
Again, not as famous or memorable as some of his other magical music videos, but I have always been a sucker for claymation and that makes "Speed Demon" an under-rated video amongst his catalog for me.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!