The Rockstar Ramblings: Van Halen Top 5 Videos
This week brought the first single and video from the new Van Halen album. Not only do we get David Lee Roth back, but also Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, instead of Michael Anthony. There’s a lesson here kids. ANYWAY, the new video is “Tattoo” and the reviews have varied from “It’s good to hear Dave’s voice again” to “How many years did I have to wait for this shit!” Does the new video hold up to the vintage Van Halen videos? The old VH videos showcased a band with a sense of humor, keeping the balance between the song and having a good time. This week a look at some classic Van Halen videos before we dive into the new video…
#5 RUNNIN’ WITH THE DEVIL
Bottom line one of the greatest rock songs of all time. The fact that this song is from album one, side A, song one somehow makes it even better. This is the start of Van Halen.
The video begins with David Lee Roth fist pumping and thrusting his hips. Roth is also wearing pearls and considering he was probably getting laid in between shoots, this is okay. Side note: This song is the first time we hear Michael Anthony’s back-up vocals. He’s no Wolfgang, NO; he’s definitely no Wolfgang in the vocals department.
The highlight of the video is Eddie Van Halen and Anthony mimicking the guitar moves of KISS. They do this a couple of times in the video.
2:50 An early David Lee Roth shimmy.
In the end we are left with a great song, and a so-so video that was either a showcase for the band or an abs workout for Roth. Probably a little of both…
It’s a plane, it’s a bird…no, it’s David Lee Roth, draped in spandex and wearing sunglasses, flying across the stage (hanging by a rope) while holding a Boom box. Best part? Roth is making a swimming motion. AWESOME!
This is a high energy song and Roth starts it off the best way he knows how: karate kick!
Eddie is playing his guitar; he is wearing a bandana around his neck like a cowboy. There were at least three years where I swear either Roth or Eddie wore a bandana this way, but NEVER both at the same time. THAT would look ridiculous.
Now we see the David Lee Roth drug bust scene followed by Michal Anthony flying across the stage while playing his Jack Daniels bass guitar. Its okay to drink and fly, just don’t drive. At 1:24 a random shot of Alex Van Halen under the thigh of a groupie, hooker, or actress. Just kidding, definitely a hooker thigh.
Next is the strange pole scene where the Van Halen brothers slide down first, followed by Diamond Dave. They are all wearing matching warm-up pants signaling either they are heading to a big game or they are fans of the uniform worn by Italians in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Nope, the band is now running in place, of course that’s the reason.
Back to the stage and we have David Lee Roth showing off his moves with scarves followed by a random appearance by a hairdryer during Eddie’s solo; and then by lots of flying across the stage.
3:08 Alex flying across the stage, while drinking
3:23 Eddie flying across the stage, dangling by one foot
3:36 Eddie, with guitar flying across the stage
“Jump” was a low budget video, showcasing the band on stage, in an empty arena. This video would be copied approximately 1000 times by other bands over the next five years.
The video opens with Eddie showing off the coolest and most flashy yellow zebra pattern jacket I’ve ever seen. Remember, this was during the time Eddie Murphy was wearing leather suits during his comedy specials, okay, maybe we should try not to remember and just forget. Roth checks his hair in the camera. This is what people who live in the projects refer to as “getting correct.” See and everyone thought watching The Wire wouldn’t teach me anything.
Somehow this song would become the soundtrack to roller skating rinks across the U.S. The video? Well it’s really just a lot of jumping and trying to figure out whether David Lee Roth’s looks are sultry OR effeminate in this video.
1:16 first jump
1:23 Eddie and Anthony sing “JUMP” together, it’s uncomfortable
2:06 weird Eddie smile #1
2:10 weird Eddie smile #2
2:32 big jump
2:45 (yawn) Eddie keyboard solo
3:34 jump (back flip)
3:45 jump (karate kick)
#2 PRETTY WOMAN
The scene is definitely outside a city. There is a woman tied up and surrounded by two little people. The two little people would definitely be labeled as leg and thigh men. Meanwhile, there is a troll like man watching all of this on a replica of my grandmother’s television. After seeing the horror of two little men caressing the thighs of this woman he climbs out of his shitty hole-in-the-ground apartment. He is wearing green and yellow spandex so either he’s an elf, or a huge Green Bay Packers fan. He looks at the situation and realizes it’s too overwhelming for him. Really? He couldn’t take out two little people? I would think the average troll could pile up anywhere from five to nine little people bodies. ANYWAY, he makes a call for backup.
The first call goes to Michael Anthony, who is also a Samurai. Once he receives the call he puts on a Viking helmet. Nothing strange going on here! The next call is to Alex Van Halen who is a tribesman (with a phone) who decides to yell after he hangs up the phone. Eddie? Well he is doing his best John Wayne impersonation. Already, I’m waving the white flag. Well done VH, great video! Then we see David Lee Roth as a Revolutionary figure. After receiving the call he even does a pondering walk. WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED IN A VIDEO?
Eddie, Alex, and Michael arrive on the scene, shortly followed by a limo that is housing David Lee Roth. As he exits the limo the woman is freed. We know this because she tosses her wig? AWESOME!
DISCLAIMER: To my knowledge no little people were hurt during the filming of this video.
#1 HOT FOR TEACHER
We are introduced to Waldo who unfortunately never turned into a reoccurring character the way the evil Cinderella sisters or angry father from Twisted Sister did. More on this later…
Waldo is heading to school and the bus driver is David Lee Roth. Waldo is nervous and nerdy; inside the classroom he is surrounded by mini-Van Halen looking boys and little girls with big girl tramp hair styles. Then the teacher shows up and strips down. Let’s just take this last paragraph and pitch it to Hollywood, at the very least there is a Showtime series here.
The band interacts with the mini-band and then at 2:17 we have a Broadway-esque scene followed by a blonde teacher that strips down. At 2:54 Roth is singing into the camera. He is wearing orange, red, and yellow plastic bracelets. Yes, I know the blonde teacher is dancing behind in her blue panties, but still… At 3:12 worlds collide as the Broadway scene and stripped down blonde teacher come together. There is a solo by Eddie in the school library and then an unpredictable jail scene that mixes Van Halen, mini-Van Halen, and what can best be described as a “vixen” who is pacing back and forth. Was this the setup for a sequel? At 4:28 the video has everyone exiting the school. It is a sunny day and even though I’ve been out of school for MANY years there is still a good feeling in my gut when those doors open and kids spill out into the sunny streets. I’ve digressed.
Roth drives the mini-band away while we learn the fates of the band members. Alex has gone on to become a Gynecologist. Michael Anthony is a Sumo Champion in Tokyo. FYI there is no way this happens, regardless of the amount of Jack Daniels, he’s not taking out THAT Sumo wrestler. Eddie Van Halen is in a mental ward (uh, didn’t that almost happen) and Roth becomes America’s favorite game show host.
The song starts with Roth waving a giant checkered flag. He is wearing a matching checkered shirt and there are a lot of strobe lights. The lyrics start with “I got Elvis on my elbow/When I flex, Elvis talks/I got hula girls on the back of my leg/And she hulas when I walk”, then we are introduced to new Roth dance moves and then the song goes into the chorus which is mostly the word “Tattoo” repeated over and over.
I guess I assumed there would be no “Eruption” followed by “Panama” style riffs; I didn’t expect TOO much so I’m not disappointed nor am I overly impressed. Around 1:37 I become aware that something is missing in this video: maybe some of the vintage VH raw energy and definitely humor. The director also realizes this because as the video goes on he orders MORE STROBE LIGHTS! In my head, during the shoot, each time someone approaches the director he ignores the request and orders MORE STROBE LIGHTS!
In the middle of the song the lyrics “Uncle Danny, had a coal tattoo/He fought for the unions/Some of us still do/On my shoulder is the number of the chapter he was in/That number is forever/like the struggle here to win” are somewhat depressing for VH, again, I believe the director senses this, ordering BALLOONS! DAMNIT WHERE ARE THE BALLOONS! When someone screams back it’s still missing something the director throws down his mega-phone and enters into Christian Bale rant mode, ordering STREAMERS! Followed by CONFETTI! And of course, MORE STROBES! Finally ending with FUCK IT, THROW IT ALL IN!
My idea is to bring back Waldo. Keep the stage scenes, but cut to scenes of Waldo as he returns for his high school reunion and is showing off his tattoos. The girls with the big-girl tramp hair are all grown up and now into Waldo; it goes without saying, Roth will play the principal. Hey, it’s better than just MORE FUCKING STROBE LIGHTS…
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