Today’s entry takes us back to the magical land of the 1980s Soundtrack Video, where the girls are always pretty, the underdog always wins in the end, and life is nothing but a series of Very Dramatic Moments played out in time with Heart-Pounding Music! This is a type of video that went out of fashion circa 1991—CAPTAIN VIDEO! thinks the official last entry in the genre may have been ”Perfect World,” by Alias, from the Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead soundtrack—and that is a terrible shame. Today’s soundtrack videos are for songs by artists like Avril Lavigne, and they are decidedly light on Heartwarming Montages, Sweeping Melodies, and the blinding sheen of synthetic gloss.
Know who understood how to make a great soundtrack video? Peter Cetera.
Cetera was the bass player for Chicago from the late ’60s until 1985, when he used the enormous success of Chicago 17 as an excuse to quit the band and pursue a solo career. Longtime Chicago fans had been complaining for years about Cetera’s overwhelming(ly sappy) presence on Chicago albums—but in his defense, most of the other band members were too coked out to bother showing up for albums 13-17. If it hadn’t been for Cetera’s work ethic, business sense, and unique ability to churn out a hundred variations of the same damn love song, Chicago probably would have broken up 25 years ago.
(CAPTAIN VIDEO! understands that this is not something for which many people would exactly like to thank Peter Cetera, and does not completely disagree with this sentiment.)
Anyway, in the fall of 1986, Cetera released his first post-Chicago solo album, the stupidly titled Solitude/Solitaire, and he did not hedge his bets: in spite of his constant whining about being pigeonholed as a simpering balladeer, he delivered a record chock full of moon-eyed love songs. These included a Top 40 one-two knockout combination—his duet with Amy Grant, ”The Next Time I Fall,” and ”The Glory of Love,” a.k.a. ”The Love Theme from Karate Kid Part II.“ Imagine the drug-fueled orgies that must have taken place in Warner Bros. Records’ accounting department when they heard the news! Between the millions of scrawny, hopeful nerds anticipating the sequel to Karate Kid, and the annoying ubiquity of Cetera’s voice, he likely could have recorded literally anything and still gone to Number One. Like Kenny Loggins and Caddyshack, or Kenny Loggins and Footloose, or Kenny Loggins and Top Gun*, it was a marriage made in marketing heaven.
Was he a matinee idol, or what? Who could resist this face? He was, after all, the man who would fight for your honor. He’d be the hero you’re dreaming of.
No? Not convinced? Well, what about some hot karate action?
Hiyaaaaa! That’ll get asses in the seats! Who says Karate Kid is for chicks? We’ll ma—
Pan out! Pan out! And fire the director! What the fuck is happening to his face? His jaw is shifting off to the side! Did he make up a sixth vowel or something? Action shot! For God’s sake, action shot!
Yeah! Nothing says ”date night” like a teenage girl with her knife to her throat. This guy is, like, three feet taller than Ralph Macchio—it’ll make the movie’s Big Ending three times as dramatic! Wait ’til you see the Secret Trick Karate Move the boys in Script cooked up!
Cut back to Cetera—what’s he up to?
Holy shit! Are those jazz hands? Who choreographed this thing? What is he doing? Does he know the camera’s on?
And while we’re at it, why is he wearing a cable-knit turtleneck? Cut away! Cut away!
Goddamn it, I said cut away, not zoom in! New company policy: never fucking zoom in on Peter Cetera—do you understand me? He looks like someone surprised him while he was in the middle of a stroke! On the toilet!
*Or Kenny Loggins and Over The Top.