I was a bit busy over the weekend, and so I got a little bit behind in my writing. Yesterday’s post, in fact, went up just barely in time to be called yesterday’s post and not “earlier today’s” (if you missed it in the shuffle, it’s here). Fortunately, being short on time doesn’t hamper the Monday Music Video much; a little help from the random video selector, and we’re on our way.
This week’s pick is a 1987 song from a former Beatle: George Harrison with “Got My Mind Set on You”.
Lyrically, it’s a simple song, expressing the obvious interest and his intentions to win over a woman. The chorus and several verses are repeated multiple times. It’s small wonder that “Weird Al” Yankovic opted to parody this version of the song a few months later with “This Song’s Just Six Words Long.” But the song is catchy in its own way, the instruments are handled deftly, and at any rate, the repetitive lyrics aren’t Harrison’s fault. The song, written by Rudy Clark, is probably the most prominent Harrison song to not have been written by the ex-Beatle himself. It was originally recorded by James Ray over 20 years earlier, so any culpability Harrison has over the repetitive nature of the song is simply in his decision to cover it.
Most people didn’t seem to mind the lyrics, though. The song was extremely popular, making it to #1 in the U.S. and taking the #3 spot on Billboard’s year-end list for 1988. It did nearly as well on MTV’s year-end list, making it to #8 in 1988 (after an appearance at #82 on the 1987 list), and also earning nominations at the Video Music Awards for Best Male Artist and Best Special Effects. MTV continued to show it love over the years, placing it at #64 on their list of the top 100 videos of the 1980s, and #347 of their 500 greatest videos of all time (as decided in 1999). EDIT: Whoops, it was the second video that garnered the video praise. See it in the comments. Thanks, Spikor.
And frankly, even if I personally find the song to be “just all right”, I have to concur with the praise for the video. This video combines a few ideas that are so deceptively simple that they seem obvious in retrospect. A young man is trying to get a girl’s affection, and just as the song says, it’s going to take some time and money and effort. He thinks he’ll be able to get her attention with a ballerina figure from a claw machine at the arcade; his difficulty in acquiring the figure parallels both the obsession and the frustration in the song’s larger goal. Meanwhile, the video is able to show Harrison and his band performing without “breaking continuity” by having the girl watch them perform on a video machine, complete with a stuttering, flickering quality to the performance. The boy, incidentally, is Alexis Denisof, who would become better known a decade later for his role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and who will be starring in the upcoming Joss Whedon-directed Much Ado About Nothing. I’m afraid I don’t know who the girl is.
And with that said… good luck getting this out of your head for the rest of the day.