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Flashback Video: 'Who's Johnny' by El DeBarge

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 "Who's Johnny" by El DeBarge. This is the debut solo single for El DeBarge released in May of 1986. It was featured in the film Short Circuit and would peak at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early July and reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart in mid-July.


"Who's Johnny" had a fun music video directed by Daniel Kleinman, a prolific British television commercial and music video director who has also designed several title sequences for the James Bond film series. Prior to Bond, Kleinman had directed music videos starting in the early '80s. Some of his '80s work includes Howard Jones "What Is Love?", Stevie Wonder "I Just Called To Say I Love You", Wang Chung "Dance Hall Days", Lindsey Buckingham "Slow Dancing", Madonna "Dress You Up", Simple Minds "Don't You (Forget About Me)", ZZ Top "Velcro Fly", Van Halen "Love Walks In", Van Halen "Best of Both Worlds", Fleetwood Mac "Big Love" and Paula Abdul "Knocked Out" among many others.


For the "Who's Johnny" music video, they took advantage of the connection to Short Circuit. In addition to El DeBarge, the music video features Ally Sheedy, a cardboard cut-out of Steve Guttenberg and the robot Johnny 5. It takes place in a courtroom with Johnny 5 playing pranks on those involved interspersed with clips from the film itself. Here is the music video for "Who's Johnny" by El DeBarge...



It's fun anytime a song from a movie soundtrack can get the actors from the movie to appear in the music video. Other examples of this include "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" which also featured Ally Sheedy as well as "Ghostbusters", "Spies Like Us", "Rock On" and "Sweet Freedom" among others.


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

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