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Flashback Video: 'The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades' by Timbuk3

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 "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" by Timbuk3. It was released as their debut single in 1986 and became a huge hit receiving heavy rotation airplay on both radio and MTV. It surprisingly only peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. Also surprising to many is that the song is not intended as an optimistic outlook though often is mistaken as such. The song has an upbeat bouncy feel and the fun harmonica really adds to the misconception that it's coming from a positive perspective. While many saw it as a graduation theme song, the song's writer pat mAcdonald's grim outlook may have been more a result of fearing a nuclear holocaust (which was a relatively common fear back in the '80s). Nonetheless, the song helped earn Timbuk3 a 1987 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Here is the music video for “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” by Timbuk3...

The video does give you some symbolism that it could be connected to a nuclear apocalypse. I can tell you that most people think that song is about an optimistic outlook on the future and I wish they were right because we can always use more songs focused on positivity. I had the pleasure of an interview with Timbuk3's pat mAcdonald. He confirmed the song's real intention and also had this to say about the video's concept: The video idea was a collaboration between us and the creative director at IRS Records, Carlos Grasso. We wanted a little trailer in there and a kind of post-apocalyptic landscape. Carlos helped flesh it out and added some amusing touches. The donkey with the TV on its back came from the album cover art, which had already been done before we conceived the video. He also confirms in the interview that he has been offered and refused millions of dollars over the years to license the song for commercials (by AT&T, Ray-Ban as well as other sunglasses brands and even the U.S. Army among many others). That takes some pretty strong moral standards and/or principles to refuse those potential paydays when Timbuk3 can be described as a "One Hit Wonder" with their 1986 hit. That one hit is certainly one of the more memorable songs from that year and can transport me back to that decade within a couple notes. Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!


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