10 Classic Fictional Music Videos From TV's Past (And Present)
A brainwavez.org Music Feature
There have been many musical TV show episodes over the past few years but few fictional music acts have released their own music videos. We've tracked down a few of our favourites, starting with three that debuted in the 2010 TV season. Plus, two words: Robin Sparkles!
The recent Grey's Anatomy musical episode (which I haven't yet seen but which has been making entertainment-news headlines for the past few weeks) got me thinking about TV shows and their musical episodes, as well as some of the fictional music videos that have been created by show characters as part of a storyline.
Last year around this time April and May, months which seem to bring out the music in the US, perhaps as early leaders into May sweeps episodes and stunts, a number of shows featured some really great music videos as part of ongoing storylines. There have been many fictional bands over the years (Drive Shaft, Josie And The Pussycats, Spinal Tap, Wyld Stallyns, and The Be Sharps come to mind) but although we've seen footage of live performances from most of them (some have even gone on tour in the real world or have released tracks on iTunes), few have official music videos in their archives so it was quite a surprise to see so many debut last year. Here are three from 2010 that I could track down on the Internet, with notes and links to some interesting web presences (some of these fictional characters have their own web sites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts).
Sue Sylvester: "Vogue"Glee, Season 1, Episode 15
Glee focusses on the (very exaggerated) ups and downs experienced by the members of a high school show choir, which, due to various plot turns, comprises outcasts and geeks as well as some of the more popular kids who also belong to the school's cheerleader squad, the Cheerios. Most of the cast have broken out into song at some crucial point in a story but the one role that no one expected would ever be the central focus of a musical number is that of Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the show's antagonist.
Yet, amazingly, the show creators managed to figure out a way to do it and the result was a jaw-dropping nearly shot-for-shot recreation of Madonna's "Vogue" (complete with a throwaway lyrical jab at Sue's nemesis in the show, the choir's director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison)). The news about the episode broke in early April last year and many entertainment sites linked to the video, a clip of which, for a time, was officially made available online as a teaser. Since then, however, almost all the copies have been removed from the Internet. I did some scouring and eventually managed to find a few full versions of the video that haven't been nuked. The one below is a side-by-side comparison video that a YouTube user edited (minor changes) and uploaded, which is both interesting to watch should you wish to marvel at how well the shots match in many places (as well as where they took liberties, the reason for which one can generally understand) and contains the most complete version of the video available online (that I could find, anyway). Below it are the best of the other versions that I could find (though one has sub titles). There are no versions online that are in HD so, unfortunately, you'll have to settle for 480p (640x480).
Option 2: http://www.vbox7.com/play:952069f7
Option 3: http://www.videolog.tv/video.php?id=537423
Jeffster!: "Blaze Of Glory"Chuck, Season 3, Episode 19
Last year's season finale of Chuck was an action-packed emotional ride with some unexpected moments to end the show. A comedic sub plot involved the members of Jeffster!, Jeff Barnes (Scott Krinsky) and Lester Patel (Vik Sahay), Nerd Herd employees at the Buy More where Chuck works, trying to get their band more exposure via a music video they had created.
The choice of song, an 80s megahit by Jon Bon Jovi that is a perfect "personality" fit for Jeffster!, turned out to be a subtle, clever commentary on the episode's events that worked on multiple levels for more than one primary plot line, offering both foreshadowing of a climactic moment in the show and innuendo regarding the fate of one of the characters in the previous episode of the season-ending two-episode special.
Jeffster!'s cheesy video is well made to look as though it's badly made (as Jeffster! would have definitely done it), with low-quality green-screen work and terrible special effects, screen wipes, and editing, as well as terrifying band posing, "acting", and close-ups.
Unfortunately this one is also only available in 480p (640x480) but I'm not sure that you'd want to see it any larger.
Princess Valhalla Hawkwind Music VideoThe United States Of Tara, Season 2, Episode 5
Princess Valhalla Hawkwind was the persona of a superhero character that Tara Gregson's (Toni Collette) daughter Kate (Brie Larson) impersonated after being introduced to it and its creator, an artist named Lynda P. Frazier (Viola Davis). Initially she did it as a means of empowerment and escape but later she transformed into the character to host video chats (a form of Internet peep show) with desperate geeks who would be willing to buy her stuff from her online wishlist in return for her acting out some of their more bizarre (though generally benign) geeky fantasies while pretending to be the Princess Valhalla Hawkwind character. The music video, which they uploaded to YouTube and which technically doesn't have a title, came about as part of Kate's embodiment of the princess and her and Lynda's exploration of the character.
I laugh at something different every time I watch this - the smart cheese factor is astronomical, including incredibly high-quality "cheap" green-screen effects that only have a couple of artifact problems, which I suspect are unintentional. It features a stuffed pony (that in real life would be bleeding profusely from its left ear by now), the immortal line "my golden hair woven into my sisters' cries", rainbows, hilarious cheesy sideways glances, and lyrics that just don't quite rhyme. The creators did a fantastic job making this.
I've included the lyrics below because I haven't been able to find them anywhere online and was curious about them, so I transcribed what I could. There are a couple of spots that are unintelligible or ambiguous, as indicated, so if your hearing is better than mine feel free to post your revisions in the comments.
I'm leaving today
Bound to find a way to say
My sisters' fray[?]
To slay the demons with my faith and my knife[night?/knight?]
(She'll make all wrongs right)
Stronger than before
She's off and ready to soar
I look to the sea
Frightened of the vision
My golden hair woven into my sisters' cries
(This will [xx][xx][xx] up to the sky.)
Stronger than before
She's off and ready to soar
Hear my song of sacrifice
I answer to your call
With will of ice
Revenge my vice
I rise and shall not fail
Stronger than before
Nightwind She's off and ready to soar
Stronger than before
She's off and ready to soar
To blur the lines between fiction and reality even further, the princess has an official web site created for the show as part of plot devices that extended into the real world, as well as a fan page that may or may not be official, but which certainly is in the spirit of the character.
At Look At Some Classics2010 was a bumper year (relatively speaking) for fictional music videos but I was curious to see what else was out there. A few artists immediately came to mind (Robin Sparkles, of course) but I was sure there must be more, hidden in the annals of TV history, that wasn't MadTV parodies or tweeny Disney pop "music" (even if it was from The Mickey Mouse Club).
Hot Sundae, "Go For It!"Saved By The Bell, Season 2, Episode 9 (1990)
In what some claim is the best Saved by The Bell episode of all time, Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) gets addicted to caffeine pills due to the stress of all her commitments and in an effort to continue studying to do well in a geometry exam. That has nothing to do with the workout video but I just felt I should mention it. In order to try to impress a record producer, Kelly (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), Lisa (Lark Voorhies), and Jessie are encouraged by Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) to make a music video. The result is "Go For It!", filmed in a random gym with lots of neon and big early-90s hair (none of it ironic). Bonus: they call themselves "Hot Sundae".
Jesse & The Rippers: "Forever"Full House, Season 5, Episode 25 (1992)
The premise of the sitcom Full House was that after his wife was killed in an accident, newly single parent Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) asked his best friend, Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier), and brother-in-law, Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos), to move in with him to help him raise his three daughters.
Jesse, a (seemingly) bad-ass rock musician who really had a heart of gold, was the front man and lead guitarist for Jesse & The Rippers. By the fourth season he had met and proposed to Rebecca Donaldson (Lori Loughlin), which resulted in a wedding at the end of the season in which he sang a special composition to her, "Forever".
The song then became a hit during the course of season 5 and the band recorded a video as part of this storyline. Rather than trying to be a parody of music videos and pop culture the "Forever" video, which featured The Beach Boys as the backing vocalists, is a serious (and rather catchy) pop ballad that still looks and sounds good 20 years later.
Jesse & The Rippers: Facebook
Phoebe Buffay: "Smelly Cat"Friends, Season 2, Episode 17 (1996)
Friend's Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) has a long list of occupations during the course of the show, including singer-songwriter for which she is best known for her least popular song, "Smelly Cat". Encouraged by a record producer, she records the song professionally as both a track and a music video, but her voice for both is overdubbed by another artist, E.G. Daily, who is less attractive but a much better singer. However Phoebe still appears in the video, along with three backing vocalists, a cast of homeless people, and a possessed (did you see its eyes?) cat.
Phoebe Buffay: Wikipedia
Robin Sparkles: "Let's Go To The Mall"How I Met Your Mother, Season 2, Episode 9 (2006)
Robin Sparkles was the stage name of How I Met Your Mother's Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders). Sparkles was an 80s teen pop star one-hit wonder in Canada in the 90s (according to the show the 80s only reached Canada in the 90s) who hit it big with the track "Let's Go To The Mall".
(Featuring a real fake robot, Bedazzled denim, brief moonwalking, and classic 80s dance moves.)
Robin Sparkles: "Sandcastles In The Sand"How I Met Your Mother, Season 3, Episode 16 (2008)
Robin followed up "Let's Go To The Mall" with the "artistic", emotional "Sandcastles In The Sand", which featured her then-boyfriend Simon (James Van Der Beek), a member of the (soon-to-be) failed rock band The Foreskins, as her video boyfriend.
(Also featuring Alan Thicke, Tiffany, French kissing, teenage angst, and that robot again.)
Although Robin Scherbatsky is now a professional news reporter and has done her best to bury her past, she continues to maintain Last.fm and MySpace profiles for Robin Sparkles.
Robin Scherbatsky: Wikipedia
The Guild: "(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar"The Guild, Season 3 teaser (2009)
Videos are also making their way to web series (which, for the purposes of this article, we shall rename "computer TV"). For the past two years the start of the forthcoming season of The Guild (which was originally planned to be a TV series) has been announced with a parody music video that's so much meta it would probably implode from awesome were it not too awesome to do so. The videos feature the show's actors playing their characters cosplaying as their guild characters parodying, in the first, gamer culture (with the intentional help of AutoTune) and, in the second, Bollywood musicals (and gamer culture).
The electropop track "(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar" was written by Felicia Day (lyrics), who created the show and portrays the character Cyd Sherman/Codex, and Jed Whedon (music), brother of Joss Whedon, who created Buffy The Vampire Slayer and co-created the web musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog with Jedd, which also stars Felicia. Jedd Whedon's wife appears in the "(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar" video as one of the dancers, they both perform backing vocals, and the video was filmed at his house. See? A whole lot of meta or infinite loops or wormholes or something... but I digress. Do you wanna date my avatar?
(Like the Princess Valhalla Hawkwind video above, it's best watched in HD.)
The Guild: "Game On!"The Guild, Season 4 teaser (2010)
While not quite as catchy as "(Do You Want To Date My) Avatar" (that bar was set very, very high), "Game On!" is still a great anthem for gamers of all genres, ages, and proclivities. The video is required repeat viewing, not only for the Bollywood goodness but because it features a number of subtle visual gags, from Tinkerballa's pixel crown (and a pixel Ganesh) to the moving scenery behind the elephant.
Update: Even More Goodness From The InterwebsWe've had reminders of some great videos posted in the comments, including a video from Head Of The Class and some from a kids' show that featured mathematics. Here they are, chronologically:
Plane Geometry: "Angle Dance" (Sketch)Square One Television, Season 1, Episode 6 (1987)
snarkygurl tipped us off to Square One TV and, specifically, "Angle Dance". Square One TV was a kids' sketch-comedy show that aired in the late 80s on PBS in the US, and it was aimed at children aged 8 to 12, with the intention of fostering mathematics literacy. Although many of the music videos and musical moments from the series are more on the side of skits than fictional music videos (à la MadTV), or they featured real artists such as The Judds and Bobby McFerrin singing about maths, there are a few videos that crossed over into the "fictional" category and are too cool not to include.
"Angle Dance" is by (fictional) new-wave band Plane Geometry and it appeared in five episodes of Square One Television, first airing in 1987.
Undertow: "Tessellations" (Sketch)Square One Television, Season 1, Episode 8 (1987)
This 50s-style beach song about tessellations was filmed on what was apparently a cold, cloudy day, according to comments on YouTube from a dancer in the video, "the lead lip-synching girl". (Have a look at the YouTube page as she also answered some questions from fans in the comments.)
Dodo: "Metric Electric Lover" (Sketch)Square One Television, Season 1, Episode 32 (1987)
Heavy-metal song "Metric Electric Lover" (featuring wrestling, rulers, and spandex!) appeared in two episodes of Square One TV.
Bevy: "Archimedes" (Sketch)Square One Television, unknown (unknown)
Cast members Beverly Mickins (vocals) and Reg E. Cathey (as Archimedes) created a video about Archimedes, which, according to at least one YouTube commenter, gave kids nightmares.
If you're interested in Square One TV's sketch music, here are a few more videos:
The House Band: "Nine, Nine, Nine"
Juan Cougar: "8% Of My Love"
Regina: "Combo Jombo"
Lewis & Clark: "Draw A Map"
Jonathon: "Apple Rap"
Negative Scratch: "Less Than Zero"
Finally, here are some musical numbers that weren't specifically music videos (or it's unclear): "The Mathematics Of Love", "Action At The Fraction Bar", "Neighborhood Super Spy", and "Rappin' Judge".
(There's also a very comprehensive list of the show's music here.)
The Head Of The Class Class: "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"Head Of The Class, Season 1, Episode 19 (1987)
Kiltgy remembered this one from 1987, in which the Head Of The Class kids make a video for a time capsule based on Timbuk3's "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades", and posted a link to it in the comments below:
The Zit Remedy: "Everybody Wants Something"Degrassi High, Season 1, Episode 5 (1989)
Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High were, as wings notes in the comments below, "huge" in the 80s and 90s in Canada. The show dealt with controversial topics that resulted in censoring when it was aired in the US and Australia, and this probably explains why we never saw it in South Africa.
The Zit Remedy was one of two fictional bands to appear in the series, and in this first season episode of Degrassi High the band convinces Lucy Fernandez (Anais Granofsky) to shoot a video for its (only) song "Everybody Wants Something".
Lenni Frazier: "You Gotta Believe"Ghostwriter, Season 2, Episode 22 (1994)
Paul has pointed us to Lenni Frazier's (Blaze Berdahl) "You Gotta Believe", which comes from the kids' show Ghostwriter, which aired from 1991 to 1995. I've never seen this show as it didn't air in South Africa so I can't add too much to this description, but here's a slighter better quality version of the music video:
Father Ted Crilly And Father Dougal McGuire: "My Lovely Horse"Father Ted, Season 2, Episode 5 (1996)
Ted (Dermot Morgan) and Dougal (Ardal O'Hanlon) compose the song "My Lovely Horse" for the A Song For Ireland competition, the winner of which will be Ireland's official entry into that year's Eurovision Song Contest.
As Spasavanje pointed out, one part of the show features a music video of the song as part of a dream sequence:
Three Times One Minus One: "Ewww, Girl, Ewww" (Sketch)Mr. Show, Season 2, Episode 2 (1996)
Ron Moses pointed us to Mr. Show, another sketch comedy series, which aired in the US in the late 90s, so this video technically falls under parody. The show was never a ratings hit but was (and remains) well regarded by critics and comedians.
Sadly (though perhaps it's for the best), the "Ewww, Girl, Ewww" music video is broken up into clips in the video below, in which the artists are being interviewed on the fictional TV show Video Show, but I think it conveys the point ("Well, it's about lit'racy, ya know.").
David Brent: "If You Don't Know Me By Now"The Office (UK), Christmas Specials, Part 1 (2003)
The Office's David Brent (Ricky Gervais) created a video for "If You Don't Know Me By Now" as part of his failed career as a musical superstar. The song was originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes but is probably better known due to Simply Red's 1989 cover. The full version of Brent's video was included as a DVD extra on two boxed sets - the Christmas Special (2004) and the Complete Collection (2004).
Thanks to Sean for the tip!
Dr Lucien Sanchez: "I'm A One Track Lover"Garth Marenghi's Darkplace: Season 1, Episode 6 (2004)
Apparently we get "an automatic fail" from guvnor over at Neatorama for not including this one. I've never seen this UK show, though it looks like it's a good one that parodies TV shows from the 80s and features a show within a show, but it would seem that that's no excuse....
Anyway, the eponymous Garth Marenghi (Matthew Holness), an author, made a low-budget TV show in the 80s that was set in a hospital. This music video features Todd Rivers (Matt Berry) as Dr Lucien Sanchez singing about his love for Dr Liz Asher, played by Madeleine Wool (Alice Lowe):
Did we miss a video? Let us know by posting a comment below!
Plus: Don't forget to check out our showcase of LEGO Club Music Videos.
Update: We got a mention on Neatorama. Thanks Miss Cellania!
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