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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dancing With Tears In My Eyes

All I admit that when I was coming up with possible topics for the month of October, I really wanted to come up with ideas that really made people scared out of their wits.  And one of the theme days in which I really wanted to do a spotlight on for this month was the Sunday Jukebox.  After all, there have been so many music videos that have been made that invoke fear in the hearts of innocent viewers all over the world.

Since MTV's debut in August 1981, there have been several examples of music videos that have a lot of imagery and concepts which have chilled the bones of many people over the last thirty-two years.  And as you have noticed over the last three weeks of this blog, I've chosen videos that have done exactly that.  

Well, at least they did so at the time anyway.  Nowadays they seem almost laughable.

In week number one of October, we took a look at the creepy erotic fantasy that Bonnie Tyler dreamed up when she sang about how once upon a time she was falling in love, but now she was only falling apart.  Nothing she could do, a total eclipse of the heart.

(And, we also talked about how the guy with the wonky beams of light illuminating his eyes gave me the creeps.)

Then in week number two, we took a look at Robbie Williams, and his video where he ripped off his clothes...and then his skin...and then all of his internal organs all in the name of art.  It's just a saving grace that the song itself was really catchy and had a great beat to it.  Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have been able to stomach even watching the video once.

And, just last week, the band known as Soundgarden showed us all what it was like to get sucked up into the endless abyss known as the inside of the "Black Hole Sun".  Now with more face morphing than ever before.

Now, as interesting, horrific, and grotesque as the three music videos up above were, you have to admit that the possibility of being greeted by a man shooting laser beams from his eyes singing "turn around bright eyes" is likely not going to happen any time this century.  You could never rip off parts of your skin and throw body parts to your adoring fans...because,'d die a slow and painful death.  And, nobody ever wants that.

And, although scientists have claimed that the Earth will likely end up becoming permanently scorched when the sun eventually goes into its supernova phase, we don't need to worry about that happening for billions of years.  So, there's no chance of us having the black hole sun give us all permanent botox any time soon.

But today's's video is scary for a number of different reasons.  Because of all the scary music videos that I have posted this month...this particular one was filmed at a time in which the entire world was on edge over the threat of a nuclear war.  It was the event known as the Cold War, for those of you who might not know.  And although the Cold War officially ended in 1991, the threat of nuclear destruction is still very much alive and still very much a threat to the world.

What makes today's video especially frightening was that this video was filmed just two years before a devastating worldwide event took place...and it certainly made everyone very uneasy.  After all, it was a video that depicted a possibility that nobody ever thought was possible...until it happened for real during one Spring day in the mid-1980s.

First, the video.

ARTIST:  Ultravox
SONG:  Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
ALBUM:  Lament
DATE RELEASED:  May 4, 1984

Yes, you're reading this correctly.  This song never actually charted in the United States.  I don't even know if the single was even released there or not.  However, I can tell you that in my native country of Canada, the single only peaked at #52.  In the UK (the place where Ultravox hailed from), the single performed much better, with the song reaching the bronze position on the charts.

Ultravox was just one of the many projects that Scottish singer Midge Ure (born James Ure on the tenth of October, 1953) was a part of.  In this case, he was the lead singer of the band, which was formed by himself and pal Billy Currie in 1979.  Together, along with Warren Cann and Chris Cross (not to be confused with the "Think of Laura" singer or the 1990's rap group), they enjoyed making music for seven years before breaking up in 1986.  However, the band reformed in 2009, and still perform the occasional gig.  Rumour has it that the band will be touring with Simple Minds beginning sometime next month!  And, you know something?  I actually think that would be an awesome show to go and see!

Anyway, in the spring of 1984, Ultravox released their seventh album, "Lament".  And the single "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" was the second single from the album.  And to say that it was a rather melancholic song would be like making the shocking declaration that Coca-Cola has bubbles in it.

You see, the video actually starts off quite innocently enough.  In fact, I would say that like most people watching the video for the first time, I was a little bit confused over why the video began inside of a power plant when it first came on.  After all, I thought the song was all about dancing and people crying.  Like the same feelings that people would have when they break up with a girlfriend at the high school prom.  How naive was I back then?  

Little did I know that the action in the video would take a rather melancholic that likely scared many people to death.

Before you knew it (and before the poor guys who are working at the power place knew it), the screens started going haywire, and red emergency lights bathed the area in an intimidating scarlet hue.  

Did I forget to mention that the power plant was one that dealt with nuclear energy?  And that in this music video, the power plant was just minutes away from complete and total meltdown, effectively nuking those who are unlucky enough to live close to it?

Now, this isn't the first time that we have seen the threat of nuclear fallout air on television.  After all, the television miniseries "The Day After" aired just six months before this single was released.  But there was just something unsettling about seeing people panicking in the streets, knocking each other down, trying to make sense of everything that is going on outside.  The panic that those people must have felt knowing that something big was happening, and that it could very well be the last night they end up living's unthinkable to even imagine how that would be.

Certainly Midge Ure (who acts in the video as the motorist who is trying so desperately to get back home to be with his wife and young child one last time) portrays this confusion and fear very well.  Even when he arrives home and gazes upon his wife for what ends up being the last time, all they can do is hold each other, never wanting to let each other go.  After checking on their child to make sure that all is okay (well, as okay as impending death by radiation poisoning can feel), both husband and wife strip off their clothes and make love one final time before descending into a deep sleep...a sleep that neither will ever wake up from.  With a flashing blue light and the shattering of window panes and television screens, the blast takes out all living things close by.  But eerily enough, the possessions of all of those who once lived in the area remain.  

And the video ends on an extremely sad note as we watch a home video of the family in happier times before the whole roll of film burns up and disintegrates right before our eyes.

A very scary thought, no?  Of course, nuclear power plants are likely not going to disappear any time soon.  They do run on less pollution and can power more homes and businesses than your average coal powered plant (though to be honest, I'm more a fan of hydro generated or solar power).  But they can also be very dangerous places if the wrong people make the worst possible kind of mistake inside.  The United States managed to avoid disaster in 1979 with Three Mile Island...but little did anyone realize what devastation that a nuclear meltdown would have on a community just seven years later.

The nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in April 1986 was a devastating event.  Large quantities of nuclear radiation were spread throughout parts of Europe and the then Soviet Union, and several communities (including the city of Pripyat which had almost fifty thousand people living there at the time of the meltdown).  It's unknown just how many people were negatively affected by the fallout of Chernobyl, but the one thing that I know for sure is that life for the people around the area would never be the same again.  And life as they knew it would be forever changed.

So, to end this blog off, a few images of Pripyat...the abandoned that was affected by one of the worst possible events ever imaginable.  One that Ultravox seemingly foretold.

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