MMV: Voices Carry

MMVThanks to yesterday’s anniversary post, we’re having a rare Tuesday music video. Just because it had to be bumped from Monday didn’t mean I was going to skip it altogether, even if the title of the column is the Monday Music Video. This week’s feature is a new wave track from 1985 with a video in narrative form.

Well, when I said yesterday the MMV would have to wait ‘Til Tuesday, what did you think I meant?

“Voices Carry” was the title track and first single off of ‘Til Tuesday’s debut album. It was written by Aimee Mann, who also stars in the video as the girlfriend of an oppressive lover. The lyrics originally were written to be sung as though to another woman, but the record label, Epic, felt that it would have more mainstream appeal if that angle were removed. Producer Mike Thorn felt that the song’s overall impact, of a lover who is both controlling and ashamed of their relationship, would remain the same if it were a straight relationship, and the band eventually complied. The video keeps the element of control as the primary focus, with Mann’s boyfriend slighting her style and interests — calling her music a “little hobby” and trying to remake her image into one that would fit in upper society.

The video was instrumental in making the single a success. The single peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and would place at #68 on the year end ranking. While other songs from the band would place on the chart, it was the only single of theirs to break the top 25, leading to a perception of the band as a one-hit wonder; VH1, for example, placed the song at #56 on their list of the 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 1980s. The video placed at #72 on MTV’s year-end countdown for 1985, and was one of the titles selected for their summer 1999 edition of the 500 Greatest Videos of All-Time, but bumped for the winter edition. However, it was not overlooked in the 1985 Video Music Awards, where it was not only nominated, but took home the award for Best New Artist. Similarly, Aimee Mann won the Best Female Performer award at that year’s American Video Awards.

Though ‘Til Tuesday would never hit that level of popularity again, “Voices Carry” remains one of the more popular and iconic songs of the 1980s. Fans see no need to keep their voices quiet.

About Morgan R. Lewis

Fan of movies and other media
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4 Responses to MMV: Voices Carry

  1. scophi says:

    Loved this song. Brings back memories of high school. ’85 & ’86 were my favorite years for music and movies.

    I always wonder why some bands can never replicate their single hits. Not that I want cookie cutter recordings. But when a single does so well on the charts, it makes you wonder why the group doesn’t try similar styles, beats, acoustics, voice work, etc.

    I understand there are often creative differences. And some groups are not about the charts. Still, it seems odd.

    • It is an interesting question, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s because the one hit is simply out of character for the band (“More Than Words” by Extreme, for example — as well as any number of other power ballads by rock bands). Other times, it seems the public only really wanted the one song. Hard to say.

      • Scophi says:

        That brings up a better question. If the hit is out of character for the band, how did they come up with it? Outside assistance?

        Creativity is something I have very little of. So the music industry, other than being an avid listener in the 80’s, is completely foreign to me.

        • “Out of character” may not have been the best way for me to phrase it. “Atypical” might be better. To go with Extreme as the example again, “More Than Words” was this soft, lovey-dovey power ballad. Most of their music is faster-paced and a little harder edged; it’s not thrash metal or anything like that, but it’s not going to be mistaken for boy band music either. “More Than Words” was just a track that was a bit of an experiment for the band, and was written by them like their other songs, but the record company thought it had mainstream appeal. The company was right. But Extreme had no interest in revisiting it; it wasn’t the type of song they usually liked to play.

          To try and put it into a context that might work, consider a genre of film that you normally dislike. But you watch this one film of that genre, and it’s really good, and so you give it a glowing review. Then all the fans of that genre see that review, and think you’re the guy to go to for that genre. But you don’t revisit that genre again, or you aren’t as favorable to it later. So your page views spike with that review, and then drop off again.

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