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1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #26

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.) MTV goes to commercials and plays a promo for Michael Jackson. “He’s been bad!” says MTV Voiceover Guy, as we watch Jackson dancing in black leather and buckles. “He’s been smooth!”–a quick cut of him from “Smooth Criminal,” white fedora rakishly tilted over one eye. “Now he takes […]

posted 4 March 2014 in 1988. 3 comments

1988 Countdown #38: Poison, “Nothin’ But a Good Time”

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.) In a busy restaurant kitchen, a hulking blonde dude leans over a sink full of dirty dishes, listening to Poison’s cover of “Rock and Roll All Nite.” He has pulled his hair back in an unsuccessful attempt at a ponytail. A busboy with a neat dark ponytail–a fellow […]

posted 19 September 2013 in 1988. 16 comments

1988 Countdown #39: Rick Astley, “Never Gonna Give You Up”

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.) Rick Astley holds forth, in a thick northern English accent, in front of a glass window; behind him, we can see New York City in wintertime. “I don’t like being in front of cameras,” he says, looking straight into the camera, and laughs uncomfortably. “So I find that […]

posted 19 August 2013 in 1988. 5 comments

1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #25

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.) Time to visit the Duke. The ads kick off with the network’s frequently deployed spot (the seventh time on a once-per-hour schedule) for their “Big Bang ’89″ program (the New Year’s Eve live program playing a few hours later). I’ve noted previously that Robert Plant had the best […]

posted 31 July 2013 in 1988. 2 comments

1988 Countdown #40: David Lee Roth, “Just Like Paradise”

(New to the countdown? Forgotten what it’s about? Catch up here.) A rock climber dangles from a steep cliff, pulling himself up with his left leg. To emphasize that this is a raw, elemental scene, the only soundtrack is a howling wind. The climber would not be identifiable as David Lee Roth without the block […]

posted 9 July 2013 in 1988. 6 comments

1988 Countdown: #41-50 Roundup

A few years back, I discovered gold in my garage: three videotapes containing the 1988 year-end countdown on MTV. Since then, I’ve been working my way through the top 100 videos of that year, plus the commercials, the VJ breaks, and the cool animated snippets. The sixth batch of videos (not exactly “the sixth hour,” […]

posted 18 January 2012 in 1988. 3 comments

1988 Countdown #41: Belinda Carlisle, “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.) The best commentary on “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” remains Niki Harris and Donna De Lory, backup singers for Madonna, captured in Truth or Dare doing vocal warm-ups by belting the song out while beating on their own chests to produce a warbly Minnie Mouse effect. (“Those […]

posted 10 January 2012 in 1988. 10 comments

1988 Countdown #42: Daryl Hall John Oates, “Everything Your Heart Desires”

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.) “After three years of separation, Hall and Oates got back together,” Adam Curry says, not particularly moved by this tender reunion, “with a tremendously successful album.” Well, Ooh Yeah! peaked at #24, which seems something less than tremendous. (Filled with bonhomie, Arista had it certified platinum.) Curry continues, […]

posted 22 June 2011 in 1988. 12 comments

1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #24

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.) The commercial break kicks off with a time-lapse video. A shadow of the MTV logo glides across a wall. As it moves, black-clad graffiti artists paint the shadow on the wall, resulting in a mural of overlapping MTV logos. It’s a well-conceived, attention-grabbing ten-second spot. Next up: another […]

posted 10 May 2011 in 1988. no comments yet

1988 Countdown #43: Information Society, “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)”

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.) A burbling drum-machine rhythm accompanies quick cuts of four young white synth-poppers, including a boy with Chris Lowe glasses covering his mouth, a girl with black lace gloves covering her ears, and a lead singer covering one ear and one eye. Then a gravelly voice solemnly intones, “Pure […]

posted 4 May 2011 in 1988. 9 comments