Friday Night Videos

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Quite by accident the other day I noticed that The Cars’ Heartbeat City was missing from my collection. The album’s three hit singles were in there, but somehow I’d never managed to buy a CD to replace my long-ago worn-out cassette.

Before clicking over to Amazon to correct that egregious oversight, I pulled up the band on Wikipedia to see what they’d been up to the last 20 or 25 years, and was saddened to learn that bassist Benjamin Orr had died of pancreatic cancer back in 2000. The surviving members got back together a few years ago to record their first new album since 1987, Move Like This. I’ve only previewed a few tracks on iTunes, but The Cars still sound like The Cars — this album has a very Summer of ’78 vibe, without sounding dated.

Well, at least it doesn’t sound dated to my aging ears.

Heartbeat City is still, I believe, their bestselling album, although I was a little surprised to learn that their bestselling single was “Drive,” which is far more languid that almost anything else they recorded. It’s a great tune, but very much in a One of These Things Is Not Like the Other kinda way.

But forget all that! What really made me feel old, reading old news about one of my favorite old bands, is that tonight’s cut, “You Might Think” was MTV’s very first Video of the Year, way back in 1984. Back then, in my sophomore year of high school, Video of the Year was a new and important thing.

Does anyone still honestly care about videos anymore? I think the reason we cared then was something more than just the novelty of promotional videos for popular music. What grabbed us back then is that almost all of these things were shot using absurdly primitive tech on absurdly small budgets. Those limitations — just like practical effects versus CGI — forced the bands and studios to heights of creativity we’d never seen before in short-format TV.

And you know what? Despite the primitive video effects, “You Might Think” is still one entertaining little video.

I had a crush on model Susan Gallagher back then, and watching this now — heh, I still do. She’s an absolute doll, and a great sport for taking on such a goofy job.