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Flashback Video: 'We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off' by Jermaine Stewart

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 "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" by Jermaine Stewart. The single was released in May of 1986 and became a big hit steadily climbing the U.S. pop chart and receiving regular radio airplay over that summer. It peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #5 in August of 1986 while also reaching the Top 5 in three other countries. In a time of sexualization and loosening morals, this song provided a different message and it was a little surprising that it enjoyed the success it did. Jermaine Stewart had originally been a Soul Train dancer. While working there he befriended two other dancers, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel. All three auditioned in the late '70s to become members of the group Shalamar with Watley and Daniel getting selected for the group and Stewart losing out to Gary Mumford. Stewart later met Mikey Craig of Culture Club who realized he was a talented singer. Craig helped him put together a demo tape and gave him the opportunity to sing background vocals on Culture Club's song "Miss Me Blind". As a result, Stewart landed a recording contract with Arista Records and his big hit would come off of his second album. "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" was one of the first music videos directed by David Fincher, who was known for his commercial and music video work at that time including his work with Madonna, Aerosmith, Paula Abdul and many more in the late-80s. Fincher would, of course, later go on to become a hugely successful film director with films like Seven, Fight Club, The Social Network and Gone Girl among others. The first music videos Fincher directed were from Rick Springfield and The Motels in 1985, but then his next was Stewart's "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off". As I mentioned, he went on to direct Patrick Swayze's "She's Like the Wind", Sting's "Englishman in New York", Johnny Hates Jazz' "Shattered Dreams", Steve Winwood's "Roll With It", Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" and "Forever Your Girl", Jody Watley's "Real Love", Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence", Madonna's "Express Yourself" and Aerosmtih's "Janie's Got a Gun" among others in the '80s. Fincher moved into the '90s with Madonna's "Vogue", George Michael's "Freedom 90", Billy Idol's "Cradle of Love" and Michael Jackson's "Who Is It" among the 53 music videos he directed before moving on to feature films. The video for "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" starts with a close up on the record spinning then proceeds to a stage with Jermaine Stewart in a white hat surround by other dancers and "bandmembers". The horn section is being acted out by three attractive ladies that I am pretty sure do not actually play the instruments on the record. The backing singers are performing choreography along with Stewart while he is singing. Then Fincher uses an interesting letterboxed background layer with close-ups on a woman randomly entering the foreground of the shot mugging for the camera. Stewart has a costume and hat change about half-way through the video, but then he pops up in the foreground wearing his original white hat towards the end. The video remained in color the entire time which is different than many of Fincher's later music videos which would be shot in black and white. Here is the music video for “We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off” by Jermaine Stewart…

In the actual song, there is no indication of the gender Stewart is singing the song to. Not that it really matters, but he simply refers to them as "baby". For the music video, it appears that the decision was made to have him sing it to a girl (even though Stewart would come out as gay). Sadly, Stewart died of AIDS-related liver cancer in March of 1997 at age 39. He likely had much more to accomplish, but he did give us one of the hottest songs of 1986 and we can always remember him for that.

Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!


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