War - Why Can't We Be Friends
Another campy-ass highlight from my hour of "Super '70s" on VH1 Classic, "Why Can't We Be Friends" holds two distinctions:
a) It's the absolute most obnoxious of the glut of Smash Mouth remake songs from a few years back (their cover of this War hit was the last track on the BASEketball soundtrack - I can't believe I know that)
b) It's the single most repetitious song in pop history. I don't have the patience (and plus, it's more fun to just make up a number) to listen to this song all the way through just to count how many times the words "Why can't we be friends?" are sung, but I'm guessing it's in the low hundreds. It's almost brainwashing; by the end, you want to be friends with everyone.
The video's opening sequence illustrates this amicable brainwashing, as the camera opens on two hippies playing chess with each other and pans out to show a series of unlikely pairs coming into frame from opposite ends to shake hands or embrace. It's funny enough to watch when the prisoner and priest give each other a soul shake, or the Mexican and the construction worker.
But when the black activist and the hood-wearing Klansman grin and slap each other on the back... well, that's worth half a star right there. No doubt if this video had been shot 15 years later, we'd see a bloody Rodney King pick his brains off the pavement, grin widely and invite Sgt. Koon and the other LAPD officers out for a round of King Cobra tallboys on him.
Other awful but somehow endearing images:
- A man parachuting into a rich couple's backyard with a bottle of champagne, then pouring it into their glasses while they strike their best looks of befuddlement. A hard expression to master, befuddlement.
- A masked criminal snatching an old lady's purse at gunpoint, while a Gheri-curled, Barry White-looking brother in a white and powder-blue leisure suit tux walks by and does nothing.
- A choreographed procession through the welfare line, while a grinning man with an Afro hands out checks to all who boogie by.
- A brother in an Uncle Sam costume handing out cash to a surrounding circle of citizens, while another masked criminal comes by, grabs his money at gunpoint. Again, no one does anything to stop him. The Uncle Sam guy looks amused by the situation, and who can blame him, really?
- Some very large moustaches that extend down into band members' chins.
It all ends with a rapid-fire montage of "friends" the band made while making the video and touring. So, so cheesy, but the video for "Why Can't We Be Friends" will put an involuntary grin on your face, just like the song itself was so shamelessly designed to do.