Every now and again, my family would leave Waukon (the county seat of Allamakee County) and visit my mom’s sister’s family. My cousin Josh was the coolest kid I knew. Being two years my senior, he had infinite wisdom when it came to cool music, and he lived in Burlington, which seemed truly metropolitan compared with the ‘Kon, which meant actual record stores or at least a better selection of department stores.
Anyway, one trip in 1987 had a tremendous impact. He busted out some old Memorex tapes, and gave me the following albums:
- Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
- Metallica, Ride the Lightning
- Metallica, Garage Days Re-revisited
- Descendents, Liveage!
- Slayer, Reign in Blood
- The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
And from that moment, the era preceding this gift became known as BMCJMMC (Before My Cousin Josh Made Me Cooler). During that era, most of my music purchases fell into three categories:
- Respected (Prince and the Revolution, Madonna)
- Unfairly maligned (Duran Duran—I will fight this fight until the day I die)
- Um, well, I was in grade school (Paul Young! Billy Ocean! “We Are the World”! Big Bam Boom-era Hall & Oates! “Sussudio”! And pretty much everything else I bought…)
So I thought it might be fun to look back at the stuff I liked before Josh high-speed dubbed me into a reasonable realm of coolness, to see if there was anything redeemable about the stuff I listened to. And why not start with Wham!? My friends from St. Patrick’s Grade School might remember them from the folder I had for social studies class.
Yeah, so my favorite song by Wham! was “Everything She Wants,” perhaps because vocalist George Michael uses the word “hell” in the first verse. Or perhaps because it wasn’t as bubblegum as “Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go)” or as saxy as “Careless Whisper.”
Or maybe it was the video?
Or maybe not. Let’s break down this cinematic masterpiece.
0:33 mark: the frozen extreme close-ups of our two heroes. George looks constipated; Andrew looks dumb.
0:55: George is glowing.
[there’s a lot going on in the next few seconds]
1:33: Andrew Ridgeley extreme close-up. Awkward! But it did showcase his most important contributions to the band, other than spinning around with a guitar that obviously wasn’t plugged in to the sound system (he wasn’t getting tangled up in a cord as he twirled around): “ah ha ah, ah ha ah, oh oh oh, oh oh oh, ah hah ah, ah hah ah, do-do-do da da da da-da!”
1:36: someone on stage does the Crane Kick move (a la Ralph Macchio). Did Mr. Miyagi give these guys the tutelage, much less permission, to execute such a maneuver? Bad form, Wham!
1:38: Andrew is giving an awful lot of hip action to his guitar playing. And with George a little too close for comfort, I might add.
2:03: George and Andrew’s synchronized spinning routine. Who choreographed that move? And I’m embarrassed for the audience, which is acting like the fucking Beatles are on stage or something at that moment. They’re screaming like schoolgirls because a couple of mulleted Brits are spinning?
2:22: Andrew extreme close-up totally breaks the mood that George has worked to create. It’s going to take some serious sass from George to get back the vibe.
3:02: see commentary at 1:33.
3:17: a woman’s hand emerges from behind the blanketed George. Oh, the irony. His disinterest, however, is foreshadowing at its finest.
4:05: see commentary at 1:33.
4:19: the launch of Andrew Ridgeley (or some other brunette-mullet dude) into the air as the background singers gaze upward in awe; a flip is executed, with a delayed copycat flip soon to follow; and then the guy sticks the landing, doing a pose reminiscent of Daniel-san’s aforementioned Crane Kick move. The 1980s asked us to just love goofy shit without asking questions, but this sequence cannot go unchecked.
4:47: a running-in-place routine. I guess the spinning was too much for the lads.
5:25: I stand corrected—more spinning!
5:35: see commentary at 1:33.
5:50: another flip! I get it, this is obviously the extended remix of the song, but didn’t they have any other b-roll footage to intersperse, rather than going back to the well on the gymnastics?
5:52: one of those “3 Men and a Baby” ghost deals. Look at the lower right corner as the flipping guy starts his descent. There’s a face! Who is he? Why is he ogling the flipping guy? Is he alive or an apparition? This is intriguing…and/or evidence of poor production values.
6:37: let’s watch it again!