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Say Cheese!

Taking a little cruise down memory lane last night on YouTube, I came upon a few videos I remember seeing all over MTV in their day. Here are three of them:

White Lion, "Wait"

Firehouse, "Love of a Lifetime"

Nelson, "After the Rain"

Listening to these songs again, I don't find anything wrong with the songs themselves. They're tuneful and filled with melody. However, I can totally understand why grunge was such a great thing for me, the 7th grader in '91/'92, and the jaded rock music critic who was much older than me.

The biggest thing that strikes me with these videos is how goofy-looking guys take themselves very seriously. But how can White Lion's singer consider himself a serious musician when he's constantly bending down in leather pants? How can the guys in Nelson take themselves seriously with their whole look? "That's what people did in those days" they would probably argue today. But come on, this is pure cheese. Yet cheese sells . . . for a while.

I get the same feeling whenever I watch that silly Panic! At the Disco video for "I Write Sins Not Tragedies." Sure, this band has sold a lot of records, but so what? Are the same people who love this band going to be feeling like us former Nelson and Firehouse admirers when they get to be our age? I think that's definitely in the cards.

So why do I even care? Because there's something very peculiar about how cheese can be taken so seriously and then be forever lampooned.


pimplomat said…
What I appreciate about the Panic! At the Disco video is the entertainment factor. They made a very visually appealing video, where the action is constant and the characters (no matter how over the top they are) are intriguing.

The first two videos you posted are nothing but band members standing around in a room playing their instruments, while the Nelson video at least tries to make it more of a story-based piece.

I'd rather see over the top story-based videos than people just standing around playing their instruments (unless they're live in a music venue).

From my understanding, "emo" is about being exceeding emotional and over-dramatic, and Panic! At the Disco's video plays right into that perception. I think it's a good video. And I really like the song, too.
Random Kath said…
Like you said, that's what everyone did in those days - "Cherry Pie," anyone? Whitesnake's "Is This Love" with Tawny Kittaen sliming herself all over the hood of the car? I mean, it was cheesy, but it wasn't as cheesy when we were living it . . . just think of the guy from Orleans who's a Congressman now, trying to live down his cheesy 70's shirtless cover.

The thing about fashion is . . . you're wrappped up in it, and you know it's over the top, but it's all around you and you get used to it and soon you start picking things up from it. A lot of people in the 70's look back at their pictures and are horrified by the way they looked and dressed then (and those of us from the 80's too . . .) 20 years from now, you'll look at your pictures and go "What was I thinking?" . . . it's just a part of life! ;-)
An Urban Femme said…
Personally I think My Chemical Romance does this brand of cheese better, but I see your point. Seriously, though, did you have to throw ALL those examples in the mix? I can only take so much cheese on any given morning.

Emo and monster ballads actually have a lot in common. Both genres enjoy a long list of artists who are trying to be something they are not. Perhaps this is where the cheese begins.

For me, it has nothing to do with fashion or style. There are timeless videos and songs as well. One of the greatest pitfalls an artist can make is assume that singing about love or betrayal is enough to make a song relevant for years to come.
Anonymous said…
i'm laughing because just the other day, we were ripping on eric's twin sister because she was head over heels for "extreme" - had pin-ups all over her bedroom of them. we were trying to remember the words to nelson's "after the rain". i'm going to have to forward this post to her. :)

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