As I’ve started gathering my ideas for the forthcoming essays about MTV, I decided to mix it up a bit. Rather than doing a half-dozen posts about various aspects of the channel (the music, the shows, the controversy, etc.) and following those with another half-dozen “best of” lists, I’m going to alternate between the two. I’m hoping this method will keep things as fresh for you as it will for me (I love the aspects of the channel itself, but I don’t think I can hold off on talking about specific videos until the very end).
With the recent untimely passing of the talented George Michael, I’ve not only been listening to his songs again, but also thinking back to his music videos. One of them cracks my top-five list of the sexiest videos to ever grace the airwaves, and it might not be the one you’re thinking about…
Before we continue, I’ll reiterate what I said in the introduction: my time with MTV came during the glory days. In this and future essays, we’ll primarily be looking at the timeframe of the mid-80’s through the mid-90’s. So, while there may be sexy videos from the 2000’s through the present day, you won’t find me talking about a naked Miley Cyrus riding on a wrecking ball or Beyoncé shaking her moneymaker while asking would-be suitors to put a ring on it.
[Item 527 in The Book of Unsexy Actions: kissing a chain.]
And so, without further ado, I give you my top-five sexiest MTV music videos, ranked in order:
Honorable Mention — “Wild, Wild West” by The Escape Club
I might lose you from the get-go with this one, but I was always fascinated by The Escape Club’s “Wild, Wild West.” First, as corny as it is, I dug the song. But what got me about the video were the disembodied arms and legs that danced, played tambourines, and shot pistols. Something oddly, um…erotic is probably the wrong term, but along those lines. Maybe I’m looking for hypnotic? Whatever. Does that make me weird? Probably. Do I care? Nope.
Number Five — “Simply Irresistible” by Robert Palmer
First things first: you have to be impressed when a song can rhyme so many words that end in “-ible” and “-able!” As for the video, never before had such an ensemble of goth-like, indifferent, heroin-chic women been assembled to move around in the background than in Palmer’s work. Not much else to say about this catchy tune, other than to check out the video and watch the women do their thing.
Number Four — “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” by En Vogue
Despite the fact that the chorus emphatically told me I had no shot with these talented and beautiful singers, it didn’t stop me from watching this video any time it came on. The group was extremely successful during the early-to-mid 90’s, having multiple hit singles and winning an array of awards, but for my money, this combination of song and video was a winner.
Number Three — “Vogue” by Madonna
This list would be incomplete without a video from Madonna, who did her damnedest to push the envelope, as well as people’s buttons, throughout her early years. While there is a veritable treasure trove of options (and I’m guessing most people would select the over-the-top “Justify My Love” as her entry on a list like this), I’ve chosen “Vogue” both because it’s a very good song and the video is much more restrained than others. In fact, while she shows a fair amount flesh (especially in the see-through shirt during the video’s opening), I think she’s actually sexiest in the tailored suit she wears during multiple dance scenes.
Number Two — “Freedom ’90” by George Michael
There was a time when George Michael may have been the hottest thing on MTV, and it wasn’t hard to see why — he was a good-looking guy, he had a phenomenal voice, and he was putting out some of the most popular music of his era. Some folks might think “I Want Your Sex” should be in this spot, but the one that had a bigger impact on me musically and visually was “Freedom ’90.” In it, Michael forsakes the camera, instead using a bevy of male and female models to lip sync the song. While the males certainly weren’t ugly, the women stole the show. Linda Evangelista looked amazing with her short, platinum-blond haircut, wearing, of all things, a bulky sweater (and still managing to look *fantastic*). On the opposite end of the spectrum was a nude Cindy Crawford, writhing around in a bathtub while singing the song. As you might imagine, “Freedom ’90” made quite an impression on this thirteen-year-old lad.
Number One — “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak
I’m probably not breaking any new ground by putting Isaak’s seminal work in the number one spot, but it’s so heads-and-tails above the rest of the pack that it deserves the accolades it has received since its release in 1990. In the video, Isaak and model Helena Christensen are on the beach in various states of undress. While Christensen appears to laugh once or twice, she spends most of her time trying to seduce Isaak. Most telling of all, when Isaak finally has her in his embrace, he’s focused on the woman before him while Christensen is often looking off to the side, indifferent to the whole thing. The video *perfectly* coincides with the slow, sultry music and plays to the lyrics of the song. As a music video production, it was the best overall package from that time, and is still talked about almost thirty years later.
There you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this cold-shower inducing essay. Have a different opinion than mine? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on the Facebook page.
Until we meet again…