* (of four)JULY 1987 -
At the age of nine, I am enamored of Top 40 pop radio. My favorite songs are "Don't Dream It's Over," "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight," "The Final Countdown" and, number one with a bullet, Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," the flagship single from the soundtrack to the Andrew McCarthy comedy Mannequin
. I see the music video on VH1 every time I visit my dad, and I crack up laughing.
-APRIL 1988 -
I beg my mom to rent Mannequin
on VHS from an electronics store named Tipton. I tell her it has my favorite song in it and that from the music video I can tell the movie is going to be wildly hilarious. We watch the movie, me and my mom and my little brother. None of us like it. But before we return it to Tipton and check out a compilation of WWII-era Donald Duck shorts, I put my tape recorder up to the TV speaker and record an obnoxiously low-quality copy of NGSUN. Listen to it a few more dozen times.
-JULY 1995 -
Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, VH1 runs a History of Music Videos A-Z marathon. The weather's absolutely beautiful, but I stay inside for three days and pick which videos to record for all-time safekeeping. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" makes the cut, as does 1986 Starship #1 "Sara." I do notice, at the age of seventeen, how fucking horribly the NGSUN video has aged, but I still think the song's cool.
-SEPTEMBER 2005 -
I karaoke "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" at a bar called Maryland Yards with my heavily tatooed, cropped-haired friend Lashonda. She's fifty years old, we're both drunk, and our harmony is downright painful. I resolve to never sing Starship with Lashonda again - from now on, it's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" or nothing.
-NOVEMBER 2005 -
Sitting at home on a Tuesday, I come across a VHS tape labeled "Music Videos '95." Sixth in the lineup is "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," bottom right corner branded with the white-and-blue "AtoZ VH1" logo. I get the urge to fire up the laptop and give this Starship video the epic full-circle treatment it deserves. But, to my surprise, it's actually not as embarassingly fall-down funny as I remember. Its unintentional humor quotient peaks about a minute in.
The scene is, Starship guy-singer Mickey pulls up to a closed department store on his motorbike. In the store window, a freeze-framed Grace Slick plays the role of mannequin. Clips from the movie Mannequin
show Andrew McCarthy happening upon his mannequin and watching her come to life. He skids backward, Kramer-style, and falls on his ass.
Cut to freeze-framed Grace coming to life in front of Mickey, who raises his eyebrows to the camera in exaggerated fashion.Both reactions are overblown, but one of these guys went to acting school and the other didn't. The other just coasts on his Mel Gibson Lethal Weapon 1
hair and silky-smooth voice.
There are a couple other funny parts - including a Spinal Tap
-level solo played on a jagged, rectangular pink guitar by a Dana Carvey lookalike in plaid, paisley pants. And there's the dramatic conclusion, in which Mickey shrugs and joins Grace in freeze-framed mannequindom.
But watching this video in November 2005 gives me more or less the same reaction as me watching Mannequin
in April 1988. It's just a big, tacky letdown.