Dynamite

Jheri Curl Fridays 37: “Dynamite”

When all else fails, there’s always a Jackson video to be seen. Today, we take a look at Jermaine Jackson’s attempt to make a Michael Jackson video, “Dynamite.”

Let’s be real for a second and talk about (ahem) human nature. Family dynamics are weird. There’s a fair level of dysfunction in every family, and when that family is controlled by a control freak patriarch, all the more. When that family starts climbing the ladder of fame, shit really gets out of control. Jermaine was the original lead singer of the Jackson 5. Michael admitted freely to using Jermaine as sort of his style guide as a kid. When Michael became the focal point of the group, Jermaine must’ve been pissed and probably pretty jealous as well. When Jermaine left the group, was replaced by youngest brother Randy and the group continued on while Jermaine’s career laid stagnant for a few years at Motown, he must’ve been pissed. When Michael’s solo career took off in 1979 and he became bigger than the family act and all of the individual brothers combined—well, you’d have to be Mother Teresa to not have that affect you in some way, right?

Right or wrong—it seemed like Jermaine wound up getting into some weird internal competition with his younger brother for musical supremacy despite the fact that there was already a clear victor. The familial jealousy was made clear when Jermaine was quoted as saying that MJ’s Thriller success was due to “timing and a little bit of luck.” That didn’t stop Jermaine, though, from asking Michael to come into the studio with him to record “Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’,” a duet that appeared on Jermaine’s self-titled Arista Records debut, and it didn’t stop Jermaine from hiring Bob Giraldi, the guy who directed Michael’s “Beat It” and “Say, Say, Say” videos, to helm what would be his first solo music video, 1984’s “Dynamite.”

Giraldi didn’t stray far from his usual M.O. with this video. It’s very reminiscent of “Beat It,” and of Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield,” and of Lionel Richie’s “Running With The Night.” The one new wrinkle is that Jermaine plays a prisoner who’s a part of a jailbreak. A fantastically choreographed jailbreak from a prison helmed by female guards, that is! Not that many of the prisoners would’ve noticed—the dance troupe here looks to be extremely light in the loafers. A few things may cause cackles with this video (other than the fact that it, you know, comes from the Eighties.) First of all, while we’re used to seeing greasy follicles from Jermaine, it appears as though someone took a vat of lard and applied it to not only Jermaine’s head, but his body and all of the dancers’ bodies as well. There’s some serious glistening happening here. In addition, the song’s title flashes across the screen on a graphic that seemed like public-access quality even back in 1984. Finally, let’s just say that the dancing isn’t on par with the moves in “Beat It,” and considering that Jermaine and his backup guys do most of their hoofing while standing in place, how come they don’t get caught until the end of the video? Oops-spoiler alert.

The song and video were fairly successful—landing in the Top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 as well as it’s R&B (then called Black Singles) chart. It’s parent album cruised to the top of the Black Albums list and went platinum. However, it was still no match for the success of Michael’s Thriller, and Jermaine, unfortunately, could never and will never match the status of his replacement as lead singer. Now, with Michael unfortunately deceased and Jermaine’s career long over, maybe Prince Michael and Jermajesty start battling for family supremacy?

 




  • Mstgator

    One of my favorite songs from 1984, but Jermaine’s videos have always been wtf moments (see also the conclusion to “Do What You Do”).

  • rockymtranger

    Of course they’re glistening: jailbreaks are hard work! This is one of those songs that didn’t age well. Now “When the Rain Begins to Fall”…THAT’S a jam!