After the random video selector had such a great first outing, I decided to give it its second shot back-to-back with the first. After all, part of the fun of having it around is its capability to surprise me with something I wouldn’t pick, or even something I wasn’t familiar with at all. The video selected for this week’s MMV falls into the latter category, with “C’est La Vie” by Robbie Nevil.
It’s not exactly on the level of Queen, but you roll the dice and you take your chances…
As the title implies, the theme of the song is pretty much “that’s life, take what you get and roll with it”. The lyrics aren’t anything special, but they’re not bad either. Just run of the mill “my life is rough, but I can deal with it” sort of stuff. It’s been done better, and it’s been done worse. The song — lyrics and melody together — is one that falls just a little bit short of “good” for me, though. It gives the impression that it’s something that could be really good with the right singer, but Robbie Nevil isn’t it. Nevil wrote the song himself, with a couple of co-writers, but it was first recorded by Beau Williams in 1984. Nevil then covered it on his 1986 debut album. I gave Williams’ version a listen after I finished Nevil’s, and I think I like it a bit better, thanks to Williams having a slightly richer voice. Nevil is just a bit too whiny sounding to me, and there’s a shallowness to the performance that reminds me of the later boy bands; his mannerisms in the video also have something of that element.
Speaking of the video, it’s also a miss for me. There are a few nods to the scenes being described in the songs, but a lot of it’s taken up with dancing. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but the choreography here leaves much to be desired. It’s as if the people making the video were aware that women dancing in tight dresses is considered attractive, but were unable to figure out why. The dancing here is stiff and almost lifeless, as are the expressions of the dancers. Ironically, for a song about accepting life, the performers here act like they’re burned out on life. Combined with Nevil’s singing, the video as a whole comes across as the creation of somebody who just didn’t quite get what they were doing.
But maybe it’s just me. Certainly it seems to have had its moment in the spotlight. The song was all the way up at #6 on the Billboard year-end chart for 1987, and was #75 on MTV’s top 100 of the same year. At the video music awards, it took home the award for Best Cinematography and was a nominee for Best Editing. And while Nevil’s career never really took off as a performer, he did make his way in at #45 on VH1’s list of the top one-hit wonders of the 1980s.
So the random video selector has given me a bit of a puzzler this week. It’s a song and video I don’t like, but which had some definite popularity. Am I going to see agreement when this goes live? Or a legion of Robbie Nevil fans who think this song was terrific? Either way, I don’t think this is as strong a winner as Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend”. But that’s how things go when you decide to let something be selected at random. It’s not always something you like. You just have to grin and bear it, and wait for the next go-round. C’est la vie.