A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Be Good or Be Really, Really Awful

Very nice to see this Fionn Regan video doing the rounds - I'm not sure which backdrop I like the most. There's something about the swimming pool that appeals, but those cows are awful cute too.

All of which reminds me, you might want to check out our brand new history of the music video, Money for Nothing, by Saul Austerlitz. Here's a clip from a chapter called "This Video's for You":


Much like "Jump" and "Panama," "Hot for Teacher" depends on Roth to provide his class-clown antics; the only difference is that here, he could do so in an actual classroom. We begin with Waldo, a prototypical grade-school nerd with a bowtie and a cowlick. As his mother tries in vain to fix his hair, Waldo (with a completely disjointed adult voice) expresses his concern that he can never live up to the effortless cool of his savvier classmates. Later events prove him prescient. The schoolbus arrives, with Roth as the driver, and Waldo stumbles into his own personal hell. To the sound of the song's opening guitar lick, the camera pans across an array of kid-sized rockers, pausing before arriving at the inevitable sore thumb. One student wonders what this year's teacher will look like, and "Hot for Teacher" shifts from black-and-white to color stock for her arrival. A catwalk appears in the middle of the room, and the new teacher, clad in a swimsuit, struts her way down the classroom runway.

There is something profoundly disquieting about the sight of the preadolescent scuzzballs checking out grown women with a seemingly discerning eye, but "Hot for Teacher" quickly papers over the discomfort with the arrival of Roth and the band, who proceed to dance on the school desks. The classroom becomes a jail cell, with the student-prisoners waiting for the bell's reprieve; when it finally does, they are greeted by Roth, now a limousine driver waiting to escort them wherever the day may take them. "Hot for Teacher" was as shameless as the later Alicia Silverstone - Aerosmith videos in its lowest-common-denominator appeals to the male psyche, but where the latter looked like trailers for the next Hollywood blockbuster, Van Halen depended on Roth's comic skill to sell its versions of the good life.


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