Time gets a little funny out here in the 1980th Dimension, but it feels like it’s been awhile since we turned on the projector and marveled at what once passed for entertainment, so why don’t we do that now? Let’s just turn this thing on and set it to random…
Crap! It’s Loverboy!
Yes, Videots, today’s exhibition comes courtesy of Canada’s headband-rockin’ answer to REO Speedwagon. At the time of this video’s release, Loverboy was one of the biggest bands in rock & roll, riding high on a string of four consecutive platinum (or multi-platinum) albums, all of which sucked something awful. (Say what you will — CAPTAIN VIDEO! refuses to believe that even Loverboy’s best songs have ever had anything but camp value. If you can listen to “Workin’ for the Weekend” without snickering at least once, please turn yourself in to the nearest member of Nickelback.)
By the mid-’80s, however, signs of wear and tear were beginning to show. Audiences were tiring of the band’s formula, and most of its biggest hits after ’83 were soundtrack ballads — specifically “Heaven in Your Eyes,” from Top Gun, and the stunningly mawkish “Almost Paradise” from Footloose, which is technically a Mike Reno duet with Ann Wilson, but seeing as how no one could have picked the rest of the band out of a lineup even at the height of its fame, we’ll count it here. The point is: Loverboy was running out of gas.
To be fair, the band had been touring basically nonstop for years, and despite what Steven Tyler and will tell you, there are really only so many songs a person can write about hot chicks. In retrospect, if Loverboy had called it quits after 1985’s Lovin’ Every Minute Of It, they probably would have gone down as something more than a goofy relic. Alas and alack, the band rolled the dice for Album Number Five, and came up with a 40-pound turkey called Wildside.
Today’s video is the leadoff single from that horrible album, an oh-so-’80s number titled “Notorious.” Normally, CAPTAIN VIDEO! breaks these clips down for you, highlighting the most ridiculous moments for maximum mockery, but that’s impossible with the “Notorious” video, mainly because it represents one of the early peaks of the epilepsy-inducing fascination with micro-jump cuts that gripped the industry toward the end of the decade. Taken out of context, all of this video’s ingredients are non-toxic, even if they were totally played out long before the clip was released; it’s only when you mix them together that the nauseating fumes threaten to overpower you.
If the “Notorious” video has a saving grace, it’s the fact that it was directed by none other than a pre-Se7en David Fincher, who, even this early in his career, had the good sense to limit shots of the band to 10% of the video (and light them from behind half the time). Although Mike Reno had yet to begin his campaign to eat the contents of every bakery in North America, Fincher knew that nobody in the band was pretty enough to compete with closeup shots of scantily clad models doing phone booth stripteases. If you are old enough to have requested this when it was in heavy rotation on MTV, it is now time to fess up: You didn’t call in because you were a fan of the band.
And it certainly couldn’t have been that you liked the song. CAPTAIN VIDEO! understands that taste is subjective, and remembers well the synth-glutted lunacy that was the mid-to-late ’80s — but come on. “Notorious”? It kicks off with a blast of noise that sounds like a cabinet full of synthesizers in an earthquake, and goes downhill from there, offering the listener such AOR bon mots as “Little girl, don’t you hesitate / ‘Cause you’re usin’…live bait! / Senorita, solitaire / You got a certain kind of savoir faire.”
Awful. Just awful. The worst part — or best part, depending on how dark your sense of humor is — is that it took five people to write “Notorious,” including the deans emeritus of retard rock, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. (Given how skillfully they’d take the whole synths-and-gang-vocals shtick to the top of the charts with “Bad Medicine” a year later, it seems obvious that “Notorious” was a warm-up exercise of sorts.) CAPTAIN VIDEO! repeats: Five people. Gentle Videots, “Notorious” is hardly even a song — were you to try and perform it on acoustic guitar or piano, it would collapse, like a souffle made of poop, flop sweat, and cocaine.
Collapsing, incidentally, is exactly what the band’s career proceeded to do. Wildside went gold somehow, but the band had had enough, and called it quits prior to the late ’89 release of the contract-fulfilling best-of compilation, Big Ones. They’ve since reunited, of course — their most recent release, the optimistically titled Just Getting Started, came out just last year (and God as CAPTAIN VIDEO!’s witness, it really isn’t half bad). They’ll never again scale the commercial heights they reached in the ’80s, but — as this video attests — that isn’t necessarily a bad thing: