CAPTAIN VIDEO!: Survivor, “I Can’t Hold Back”

There were a lot of things CAPTAIN VIDEO! loved about the ’80s, if you hadn’t guessed already. To put together a list of all of them would take forever. But one of CAPTAIN VIDEO!’s very favorite things about the 1980s was the overabundance of interchangeably faceless “rock” bands that clogged the charts. Most of them had one-word names, like “Loverboy” or “Styx”; they tended to hail from Midwestern towns nobody had ever heard of (except for the members of Loverboy, who came from Canada, which is essentially a Midwestern town blown up to continent size); and their looks were as anonymous as their music–most of their fans wouldn’t have been able to pick a single member out of a lineup.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Survivor.

Now, within this subgenre of faceless corporate “rock,” Survivor actually managed to carve out a few distinctions for itself. They were on Scotti Bros. Records, to begin with, meaning that for most of their career, the only other artist that mattered on their label was “Weird Al” Yankovic. They also had big hits with not one, but two themes from Rocky sequels, featuring two different lead singers.

Oh yeah, the singers. Survivor were the first of their ilk to replace a singer with another who sounded exactly like him. The most hardcore Survivor fans (that they must exist troubles CAPTAIN VIDEO! deeply, but exist they must nonetheless) will no doubt dispute this, but really, Dave Bickler and Jimi Jamison might as well be the same person. “Eye of the Tiger”? That’s Bickler. “I Can’t Hold Back”? Jamison. Scary, huh?

“I Can’t Hold Back” was released in 1984, an era in which it was really popular for videos to feature a lot of shots of the band “just hanging out” and being “regular guys.” So here we have Survivor killing an afternoon in the neighborhood music/book store:


Yes, folks, these were rock stars. It was a simpler, more innocent time, was it not?

Anyway, of course the lead singer is “just hanging out” and being a “regular guy” on his own. He’s sort of a troubled loner, I guess. I mean, it isn’t that he’s appreciably more attractive than the rest of these lumps. He does, however, know where to stand in a bookstore.


And…what’s this? She’s into rock & roll!

Jimi sucks in his cheeks and waits for the pheremones to do their job…

Not that she minds. What, you think she put on these heels, jeans, sweater-with-shoulder-pads, and two bottles of Aqua Net for herself? No sirree. She wants it.

She wants it bad!

Meanwhile, the other dorks in the band are doing their best to act supportive:

(CAPTAIN VIDEO! especially likes the guy with the Milhouse glasses and limp wave. You can almost hear him saying “Hey lady!” a la Jerry Lewis. And the fat one looks confused and a little angry.)

But Jimi’s girl isn’t distracted. In fact, she’s so captivated by his sulky-cheeked mojo that she finds herself overcome by a blinding flash of light…

A flash of light that turns her into a “rock” vixen!

It also transports her to–wouldn’t you know it–a terrible Survivor concert. Attendance must be high tonight: she has to walk through at least four rows of people before she can dance like a madwoman directly in front of the stage. Jimi and the guys “rock” accordingly:

(In the 1980s, the more zippers you had on your pants, the bigger a rock star you were. These pants clearly signify Survivor’s place in the 1984 rock pantheon, just below the guys who recorded “Pac-Man Fever.”)

Next thing you know, everyone’s on a train, and everyone’s checking out Jimi’s girl:

But Jimi don’t care–no, he’s calm, cool, and collected, complete with ridiculous outfit from the Mickey Thomas collection!

Silly as the tucked-in tie look is, however, it pales in comparison to the hobo chic being sported by Fatso the Drummer:

Not to mention the poor, dumb bass player, who was somehow convinced that dressing up like a nun didn’t stop being funny after Benny Hill:

And hey–what’s a young Lars Ulrich doing here?

While all this “rock” “wackiness” is going on, Jimi’s stalking his girl toward the back of the train. Ladies, be honest: Riding public transit at night, you know you wouldn’t be able to resist a man with this look on his face:

Of course, it isn’t long before they’re totally making out.

It’s too good to last, though–just as suddenly as we found ourselves at the concert and on the train, we’re back in the bookstore. Perhaps sensing that a restraining order or expensive alimony payments loom in Jimi’s future, the band grabs him and drags him away:

What immediately follows is a scene that anyone who lived in the 1980s watched 10,000 times before, in 10,000 different videos–the guys pull their friend down the street, he continually looks over his shoulder at the girl, he eventually breaks away, etc. He takes off running after her, but she’s gone to the train station (wouldn’t you know it?) and, even though she only had a lead of maybe a few seconds, his tubby ass shows up too late to make the train.

The final shot sums up not only this stupid, disjointed video, but the rest of Survivor’s career:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]



  • Me Myself and I

    Ummm, who the fuck is Jeff Giles? Obviously some no-name reporter who has his head buried up his ass. Regardless, as soon as you can write a song that is as big as Eye of the Tiger (or any other Survivor song at that), then maybe someone will give a flying fuck about about your opinions.

  • JohnHughes

    Seriously! Who the fuck is Jeff Giles?!?

  • Adillo

    You guys are gay…who cares about Jeff Giles…who's the hot chick in the video?

  • bigcat

    Olivia Newtonw-John is hot in this video

  • bigcat

    Olivia Newtonw-John is hot in this video

  • stallone

    survivor rules

  • stallone

    survivor rules

  • Matt

    I'll dispute the Bickler/Jamison as the same person theory….but you knew that was coming.

  • rider

    The second pic posted above from the music store, where the album “WAS (NOT WAS)” is shown, is producer Don Was' band's album! Nice little trivia touch for the video.

  • brokeastunes

    Yikes. Lighten up folks! Is the humour here really too subtle? Videos like these are some of the most ridiculous artifacts pop culture has ever produced and it's great fun to have them skewered by the Good Captain.

  • http://arensb.livejournal.com/ arensb

    Jeff Giles, y'all, Jeff Giles, y'all.

  • http://www.popdose.com Ted

    Best line in this post was the last one about Survivor's career. Thanks CAPTAIN VIDEO! And please help Jeff Giles get his head out of his ass.

  • OJ Incandenza

    And why is she making out with Patti Smith on a train?

  • Tom Bedlam

    Look- Me, Myself and I has a point. I read Captain Video! for serious 1980s music video criticism only. Maybe I'm too much of a purist… maybe I'm just out of step with the world today, but since when did a Survivor video featuring bookstore flirting, a man in a nun outfit, and a daydream sequence featuring a make-out session on a commuter train (all set to the rock-your-socks-off sounds of Survivor, I might add) become something to be ridiculed?

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    You're a good man, Tom Bedlam. A good man.

  • http://mostlymodernmedia.wordpress.com Beau

    I'm tempted to point out that there was a big difference between Bickler and Jamison, Jamison's fine performance in that classic Starbucks ad notwithstanding, but the brains of the band was Jim Peterik, anyway.

    But I won't point that out, because if the first dude to post on here is at all representative of those who know Survivor band members, I don't want to be there.

  • MatthewF

    Wait, you commented on this a year ago? Your fury has thrown you back in time? Awesome.

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    I'm totally lost here. Where's the council tribunal? Where are the torches? WHERE ARE THE TIKIS?

  • Guitaristically

    I stumbled upon this video recently and just found your hilarious commentary via Google. Yeah, this is such a ridiculous video “story” though I’ve always liked the song, even despite it’s lyrics. Who is the woman. The level of makeup and hairspray is ridiculous and those pants of his are comical. A real timepiece from the 80′s for sure. Peterik is a talented writer, I might add.