Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Leaping Ahead #288)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #288: 161014

[Song with a good video (8)]

The short film for “Billie Jean” is considered the video that brought MTV, until then a fairly new and unknown music channel, into mainstream attention. It was one of the first videos by a black artist to be aired regularly by the channel, as the network’s executives felt black music wasn’t “rock” enough. Directed by Steve Barron, the video shows a photographer who follows Jackson. The paparazzi never catches the singer, and when photographed Jackson fails to materialize on the developed picture. ‘Billie Jean’ was the second single from Jackson’s sixth studio album ‘Thriller’ released in 1982.

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (Leaping Ahead #258)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #258: 160914

[Song with a good video (7)]

Though some artists had made video clips to accompany songs (including Queen themselves,it was only after the success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in October 1975 that it became regular practice for record companies to produce promotional videos for artists’ single releases. These videos could then be shown on television shows, such as the BBC’s Top of the Pops, without the need for the artist to appear in person. A promo video also allowed the artist to have their music broadcast and accompanied by their own choice of visuals, rather than dancers such as Pan’s People (Top of the Pops).

According to Brian May, the video was produced so that the band could avoid miming on Top of the Pops, since they would have looked off miming to such a complex song. He also said that the band knew they would be set to appear at Dundee’s Caird Hall on tour and unable to appear on the programme anyway. The video has been hailed as launching the MTV age.

Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice (Leaping Ahead #199)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #199: 160717

[Song with a good video (3)]

Released in April 2001 as a double A-side with ‘Star 69’, ‘Weapon of Choice’ is perhaps best known for its accompanying music video, which was filmed in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel (now the LA Hotel) in Los Angeles in December 2000. Directed by Spike Jonze and featuring actor Christopher Walken, who trained as a dancer in musical theatre before his acting career, it features Walken dancing and flying around in the empty hotel to the music.

The video won six awards at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. Walken was awarded one of MTV’s “Moonmen” for Best Choreography. The clip was also ranked number one in a list of the top 100 videos of all time by VH1 in April 2002 that was compiled from a music industry survey. Walken has cited the involvement of Jonze as one of his main motivations for appearing in the video, which he also welcomed as a chance to do “something different”.

Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer (Leaping Ahead #130)

As I’m away these next few days, here’s ‘Leaping Ahead’ parts #130 – #135 all in one go.

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #130: 160509

[Song with a good video (4)]

Appearing on his 1986 album ‘So’, Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” had a widely popular and influential music video commissioned by Tessa Watts at Virgin Records, directed by Stephen R. Johnson and produced by Adam Whittaker. Aardman Animations (of Wallace and Gromit fame) and the Brothers Quay provided claymation, pixilation, and stop motion animation that gave life to images in the song. The video ended with a large group of extras jerkily rotating around Gabriel, among them: Gabriel’s own daughters Anna and Melanie, the animators themselves and director Stephen Johnson’s girlfriend. Also included were six women who posed as the back-up singers of the song. Gabriel lay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming the video one frame at a time.

Two oven-ready chickens, headless and featherless, were animated using stop-motion and shown dancing along to the synthesised flute solo in the middle of the song. This section was animated by Nick Park, of Aardman Animations, who was refining his work in plasticine animation at the time.

Katrina & the Waves – walking on sunshine (Leaping Ahead #125)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #125: 160405

[A song for the Spring (2)]

Originally released in 1983 as the lead single from the band’s debut album, it has gone on to become their best seller. So much so that in August 2015, the song was acquired by BMG Rights Management for £10 million, along with all the other songs written by Kimberley Rew and Katrina and the Waves.

In 1996, Dolly Parton included a bluegrass version of “Walking on Sunshine” on her album of covers, Treasures, stating in interviews to promote the album, as well as her CBS TV special to promote the album, that she had long loved the song. In 1997, a dance remix of Parton’s version was released.

The Pixies – Blue Eyed Hexe (Leaping Ahead #105)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #105: 160414

[Favourite guitar riff (4)]

It’s something about the way the guitar grabs me 24 seconds in – BAH-BA-BAH-BA-BAH – boom boom boom – BAH-BA-BAH-BA-BA! Gets me every time, grabs me by the proverbials and reduces me to a quivering wreck. Pretty good video too – not that I get to see it much; my eyes are usually closed by then.

Shakespeare’s Sister – Stay (Leaping Ahead 101)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #101: 160410

[A song for the 1990’s (4)]

Released by London Records in January 1992 as the second single from their album Hormonally Yours, “Stay” became the duo’s first and only No. 1 single in numerous places including the UK, where it topped the UK Singles Chart for eight consecutive weeks; the longest UK No. 1 reign for any girl band, and was the fourth biggest selling single of 1992.

It’s the only song that featured Siobhan Fahey less prominently on vocals than Marcella Detroit, with Detroit singing the verses and lead chorus and Fahey singing the song’s dramatic bridge. Detroit is noted for singing in whistle register before the last chorus of the song, going up to a high F (F6). The piano, synth and bass guitar were performed by Ian Maidman, and the drums by Steve Ferrera, both musicians whose contributions featured throughout the ‘Hormonally Yours’ album.