Tuesday Tunes 76: Fashion

As well as watching a lot of music on YouTube I also enjoy many of the funny videos on there. They have loads from the comedy panel shows and chat shows, all cut down into bite sized pieces to save watching the whole programme for the funniest parts. Maybe a selection is due for a Saturday Smiles post, as I haven’t done one of those for a while? The other night I was watching one – I can’t remember which one or who the comedian was, and I can’t find the clip again – but trust me, it was a very funny rant about something which I’ve always thought, too: how pointless is the fashion industry, which tries to persuade the gullible to part with ridiculous amounts of cash to look stupid. So I decided to use this as my theme for this week: my take on fashion. There are seven tunes in total, a couple of which refer more to clothes than fashion per se, and a couple of which may not be entirely serious. But we should have some fun at fashion’s expense – that is what it is there for, after all.

For someone of my vintage, this is an obvious place to begin:

Alright, I know, that is more about a dance craze than clothes, but the theme of looking silly works just as well for dances too. This song first appeared on David Bowie’s album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), which was released in September 1980. It was the second track to be taken off it as a single, after Ashes To Ashes had been a UK #1, while not charting at all in the US. It was released in October 1980, and reached #5 in the UK and #70 in the US. The album was a UK #1 and peaked at #12 in the US. The video was a classic of its time, and was well received.

Those of a newer vintage than myself might choose this one for its same title:

There is a live version of that on YouTube performed by Lady Gaga with RuPaul, on a tv special she made with the Muppets. Just be thankful that I spared you that one! This was a track on Gaga’s third album, Artpop, released in November 2013, which was #1 in both the US and the UK as well as in several other countries. For those who are easily excited, I should perhaps point out that the album cover isn’t a nude photo of her: it’s a sculpture. Just to be sure. This one wasn’t released as a single, hence the audio-only video.

Last week I began my tunes with one from the Sixties, from the British band The Kinks. Luckily for me they have another song for my theme this week, too:

Don’t be fooled by the jaunty tune and some of Ray Davies’ phrasing in the song: Dedicated Follower Of Fashion is a cutting piece of satire. It was released in February 1966 in the UK, reaching #4, and in April in the US, where it got to #36. It did however make #1 in both The Netherlands and New Zealand. It comes from an era before every single had to have its own video, though promotional videos like this were becoming more common within the industry. I’ve no idea how they were played, though, as this was before the days of videotapes and DVDs – I have this vision of A&R men having to lug truckloads of equipment around with them, or maybe record companies laid on cinema screenings? Either way, I’m glad I managed to find this, as it shows a lot of what the song was about, even if the uploader did cut off the last few seconds of the song!

My next selection is, perhaps, a later treatment of a similar theme:

ZZ Top comprised Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard from their formation in 1969 until July this year when, sadly, Dusty passed away. They were by some distance the longest running rock band without a single change in membership until then. As I’m sure you know, the one without the trademark beard is, yep, Frank Beard. One of their little ironies, from a band who enjoyed writing sly lyrics. The band carries on: Dusty had requested that his role as bass player be taken over by the band’s long time guitar tech, Elwood Francis, and that is what they have done. This was a track on their eighth album, Eliminator, released in March 1983. The album got to #9 in the US but was the one that broke them big here in the UK: they had previously had a couple of albums in the lower reaches of our charts but this one reached #3. This was the second single taken from it, in July 1983, peaking at #56 in the US and #22 in the UK.

I mentioned at the outset that a couple of these songs (alright, most of them) aren’t particularly about the fashion industry, and this is one of them. I know I’ve played this one before, but as it has ‘clothes’ in its title that was all the excuse I needed to play it again:

As the uploader says, he has edited this in the hope of avoiding copyright problems, but as it has been there for nearly two years my fingers are crossed, too. I’m not sure what happened to the original official video, though, as it isn’t even on Bruce’s own YouTube channel. Odd, that. Do please let me know if you can’t play this, as I have a sub warming up to come off the bench, just in case. The song was a track on The Boss’ Magic album, released in September 2007, which reached #1 in the US and the UK, and also in Austria, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Canada, Ireland, Norway and Sweden, and got to #2 in Australia, New Zealand and The Netherlands. Not bad! This track was released as a digital-only single in January 2008, reaching #98 in the US but not charting anywhere else. The album sold over 1m copies in the US despite reportedly being banned from airplay on stations then owned by the Clear Channel network. But as that report comes from Fox News it may need to be digested with the usual bucket load of salt.

My two remaining selections are where I really start having fun with fashion, in keeping with the original prompt for the theme. I’m betting that few of you will have seen this one before:

The Flight Of The Conchords began life as a radio show on the BBC in the UK in 2004, and then became a tv series on HBO in the US, which ran for two seasons from 2007 to 2009. The two lead actors adopted the full name of the series as the name of their band, and have released two studio albums and a couple of live ones. It is an extremely funny show, so do watch it if you can still find it anywhere: deadpan humour at its finest. In case you hadn’t noticed, this is a parody of the song and the music video for Fade to Grey by Visage: the song itself is a parody of Fashion and Fame by David Bowie. You can check one of those from earlier, should you so wish! This is a clip from season 2, episode 8, which is described thus by the IMDb: “Trying to look cool for a gig at the Grand Opening of New York’s one-block New Zealand enclave, the Conchords end up getting hooked on hair gel.” A fairly typical episode of the show, then. Their self-titled debut album was released in April 2008, and made #3 in the US, #32 in the UK, and was #1 in their native New Zealand. The follow up I Told You I Was Freaky, which includes this track, came out in October 2009 and reached #19 in the US, #47 in the UK and #7 in New Zealand. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this wasn’t released as a single. It still makes me laugh, though, all those years since I first saw the tv show.

For this week’s final song, I’m revelling in a fit of maliciousness such as I’ve never inflicted on you before. This song has a lyrical connection (of sorts) with fashion and fashion shows, and you may spot the inspiration behind the video. Prepare to have some images indelibly planted in your brain:

The clue is there in the invitation to watch the video on YouTube. I’ve tried that link and it works just fine, taking you to the ‘only for grown ups’ version. Some of those are in the ‘once seen, never forgotten’ category, aren’t they? I’ve loved that video since I first saw it when it came out to support the song’s release as a single. It still makes me laugh a lot now, and the band really looked like they were enjoying themselves. Possibly a little too much, in a couple of cases. This was a track on Aerosmith’s Nine Lives album, released in March 1997, peaking at #4 in the UK but going all the way to #1 in the US. This track was released as a single in November of that year, reaching #28 in the US and #37 in the UK. Wikipedia gives a fair bit of detail on this video:

The music video for the song used CGI to morph characters’ faces to other bodies: a variety of random characters mixed in with band members moving towards the camera, morphing into different characters in the process, directed by Doug Nichol. Two versions of the music video exist. In the uncensored version, there is a woman dressed in a blue jumpsuit walking towards the camera. For a brief second, the top, unzipped portion of the jumpsuit is pulled away, revealing her right breast. There is another instance where a woman’s breasts are briefly fully revealed when a woman, painted blue and green, does a pirouette. The uncensored version caused minor controversy and MTV asked Nichol to censor the video for daytime airings.

The song won the band their fourth Grammy award in 1999 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Additionally, the video won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Rock Video in 1998.

So that’s the lot for this week, a mixture of the weird and wonderful: a bit like the typical fashion show, really. But I’ve had a lot of fun with this selection, and hope that you have too. Fashion is, after all, meant to be enjoyed, even if that is just by reducing us to hysterical laughter. As for me, I just can’t wait for an opportunity to wear my new outfit:

I hope you have a great week. Only three more days for me until the heating is fixed, unless I’ve turned into a rather large block of ice by then. Take care, and I’ll see you again soon 😊