1988 Countdown #98: Vixen, “Edge of a Broken Heart”

Stiletto boots decorated with silver chains, a dramatically swelling synthesizer, scarves tied to the microphone stand, lots of makeup and hairspray–this must be a hair-metal band!

vixen boot

In the case of Vixen, the musicians slathering on the cosmetics were all women. I suppose this qualified as a twist, given that the Sunset Strip metal scene was populated by men who were responsible for fully 18% of L’Oreal’s bottom line in 1988, but it doesn’t feel especially transgressive.

vixen 98

The video for “Edge of a Broken Heart” starts off with dramatic backlighting behind the band–or three of its four members, anyway. Was the director looking for an iconic Charlie’s Angels silhouette? Was the bassist hungover and late for the shoot? After that initial band-winnowing shot, it’s a straight-up performance video: Vixen (returned to full strength once they escape from the backlighting) strut around the stage while the camera stays in constant motion, panning around the musicians. There’s no crowd, but there is a full-scale lighting rig, with lots of spotlights in hyper-swivel mode. Bleached-blond hair, enhanced with extra AquaNet volume and combined with bright klieg lights, produce the video’s visual motif: the way a radioactive comic-book glow appears to be emanating from the performers’ scalps.

vixen scalp

Like all right-thinking people, I root for female rock bands, but this clip just isn’t very good. Part of the problem is that Vixen don’t have much in the way of moves. They seem awkward and stiff as they execute the standard rock poses (e.g., singer leans against guitarist while they share a mike), either because it’s the largest stage they’ve ever played on, or because their stiletto heels are taller than usual. (Singer/guitarist Janet Gardner does a particularly ineffectual thing where she waves her hands around, which I think is meant to pump viewers up, but makes her look like a kindergarten teacher trying to get the attention of her class.) The happy exception is drummer Roxy Petrucci, who’s twirling her drumsticks, flailing around, and generally rocking the (nonexistent) crowd.

The song was written, arranged, and produced by Richard Marx (who, I suspect, we will be hearing from again later in this countdown), and is a competent piece of pop hackwork. The opening line–“I can’t believe I could’ve been so blind, but love is strange”–sets the cliché meter pretty high, but Marx, never one to shy away from a challenge, matches it later in the same verse with “I don’t need another lonely night to dry my tears.”

“Edge of a Broken Heart” reached #26 on the Billboard pop charts. You can watch the video here.

posted 20 May 2008 in 1988 and tagged , , . 3 comments

3 Comments on 1988 Countdown #98: Vixen, “Edge of a Broken Heart”

  1. Chris M. Says:

    The placement on the countdown is telling — very “here’s the token spot for that chick metal band.” Not that it’s a great video, as you point out, but I guarantee an equally lame video by, say, the Bulletboys would place higher.

  2. gavin Says:

    (I edited the entry to add the song’s Billboard info, which I’ll start including as boilerplate. Neither Keith Richards nor Crowded House hit the top 40 with their tracks.)

  3. gavin Says:

    Department of Clarifications: A friend asked me if the L’Oreal statistic was real; I’m sorry to report it’s completely fictional. I apologize for any confusion.

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