10 of Our Favorite Music Videos from the Vice City Soundtrack
In our continuing nostalgic ruminations in this 10th Anniversary year since the release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, today we take a look back at the game’s soundtrack and think back to those halcyon early years of MTV when it actually was all about music + television. In between the channel’s signature moon man interstitials and ‘veejay’ visits to your living room from Martha Quinn and J.J. Jackson, came the original wave of music video programming that transfixed and inspired a generation of kids - including many of us here at Rockstar. Frequently surreal, heavily driven by contemporary fashion photography and design of the period, and now laden with pop music history – enjoy this rundown of just ten (in no particular order) of our favorite 1980s music videos of songs that appeared in the Vice City soundtrack….
"Video Killed the Radio Star" The Buggles (Flash FM)
A bizarre little clip in its own right, now etched in history for being the first video ever played on MTV when they launched in August 1981, is "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. Apparently actually the second filmed version of the video - the original being a slightly simpler yet still pretty strange performance clip heavy on post-disco-futurism - this one was tailor made to suit its destiny. Filled with campy sci-fi imagery, follow the wonderment of a young girl seeing her old-fashioned radio explode as Trevor Horn (later of Yes and Art of Noise fame) and The Buggles play otherworldly explorer-scientists heralding in the new music video era...
"Rock Box" Run DMC (Wildstyle Pirate Radio)
A landmark rap video (the first to be aired on MTV) that typified the early 80s Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin era vibe and pioneered a rock-rap style that would explode a few years later with “Walk this Way”. The bizarre factor is also ramped way up on this one thanks to a rambling, esoteric introduction by legendary then-70-year old (and still kicking) improvisational comic “Professor” Irwin Corey. Ensuing years in the 80s would see similar head-scratching cameo appearances in rap videos by random comics like Larry “Bud” Melman, Gilbert Gottfried and Richard Belzer...
"Owner of a Lonely Heart" Yes (Flash FM)
The nearly 7-minute long video for this 1983 avant-garde pop-rock-electronic masterpiece starts out simply enough with the band rehearsing on a soundstage. A minute-and-change-in... things get weird. With an offsetting close up of Jon Anderson's face, it cuts to the lead singer standing in a field where he then turns into a bird that flies away. The rest of the band members follow suit, transforming in different locations into a snake, lizard and cat, respectively. Jon-Anderson-as-bird then flies over rush hour London, where we see an average Joe trying to get through the day's challenges (like facing evil government agents and more antagonists from the animal kingdom). Was the band inspired by a psychotropically-fueled viewing of Manimal? We'll never know - but this quite disturbing and surreal video still puzzles and delights as well as it did nearly 30 years ago.
"I Wanna Rock" Twisted Sister (V-Rock)
"What do you wanna do with your life!?" With a reprisal of his authoritative jerk Niedermeyer character from 1978's Animal House, actor Mark Metcalf this time is a raging hard-ass bully of a high school teacher set up ripely for comeuppance at the hands of his charges - empowered of course by the liberating rock of Dee Snyder and Twisted Sister. After humiliating a meek and overweight metalhead teen student, the rest of the video sees Metcalf as a foil getting his just desserts in a variety of cartoonish scenarios. The Animal House comes full circle at the end when Metcalf's character finally makes it to the principal's office to report the student rebellion...
"Yankee Rose" David Lee Roth (V-Rock)
The first single off of his first full-length, post-Van Halen album, "Yankee Rose" was David Lee Roth's initial visual statement as a solo artist. And what was that statement? A comic parade of politically incorrect stereotypes and a ridiculous Roth shaking his wrapped-in-striped spandex rear-end at viewers. So it's perfect.
"Sunglasses at Night" Corey Hart (Wave 103)
Upon listening to this Corey Hart classic, you might think that it's simply about a dude who prefers to wear sunglasses in the evening, perhaps for practical reasons such as being able to leer at women on the bus, or perhaps due to hypersensitivity to moonlight. But thanks to this video that was a staple on airwaves in '83, audiences were challenged with some serious social commentary. What if we all lived in a fashion police state and the only shades that we could wear were government-issued? Thankfully, the scenario was addressed in this laughably dramatic yet awesome music video.
"Steppin' Out" Joe Jackson (Flash FM)
The video for Joe Jackson's elegant and progressive piano-electro pop hit "Steppin' Out" captures the glamour and excitement of a night out in high-society 1982 New York City with this visual story of a maid at a fancy NYC hotel dreaming above her station.
"Love My Way" The Psychedelic Furs (Wave 103)
Relatively understated for the era, but still very surreal and cool and now-iconic, the video for the Psychedelic Furs "Love My Way" features the band wading in water and with heads in the clouds.
"The Message" Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (Wildstyle Pirate Radio)
Acclaimed to this day having recently been named the #1 greatest hip-hop song of all-time by Rolling Stone, "The Message" still packs a serious punch with a gritty video that is quite a departure from many of the other blithe videos in this list. With documentary-style footage shot in the streets of early 80s New York, this glimpse of real life burned-out buildings, hustlers, winos, infuriating congestion, peep shows, and 'broken glass everywhere' exposed the realities of life in the inner-cities of America to a vast international audience.
"I Ran" A Flock of Seagulls (Wave 103)
There it is. "I Ran" was one of the most ubiquitous videos of the 1980s ranking among MTV's most played ever, and made its mark as an indelible video of the decade, known for its surreal kabuki theater in a mirrored funhouse performance - and of course, for the band's haircuts. Perhaps the definitive new wave hit and the song that came to be most associated with the glamour, thrills and action of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City thanks to its appearance in the game’s official TV commercial.