Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

'Total Eclipse of the Heart': Literal Video Version

It started with an a-Ha! moment. Dustin McLean — an assistant director at Current TV's animated SuperNews — would regularly make fun of 1980s-era music videos with co-workers, coining new lyrics to match the absurd imagery of early MTV. Then, McLean said, one of them laid down a gauntlet: "Somebody should record that and put it back on YouTube!"

McLean accepted the challenge and spawned a trend he called Literal Videos. The obvious choice for his first attempt was "Take on Me," by Norwegian quartet a-Ha!, whose video in pencil-drawn roto-scoping was one of the most memorable of the '80s. McLean re-recorded it, using an iTunes karaoke version, with lyrics to match the pictures. The "Take on me" chorus was replaced by "Pipe-wrench fight!" as the hero is chased by a man with, um, a pipe wrench?

The literal version hit YouTube last year, so it can't be on this year's list. But not long after that first video, the knockoffs started popping up.

The best of those knockoffs is this one. The video to Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was MTV at its most rococo — ripe for parody. The literal lyrics to the ridiculous visuals of a boys' prep school and its "glee club of the damned" are laugh-out-loud funny.

What kind of private school would let in these kind of guys?/ It started out as Hogwarts, now it's Lord of the Flies.

When his first videos came out, McLean said he got dozens of requests every week for songs to give the Literal Video treatment. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was the most requested. But McLean procrastinated because he didn't know a female vocalist who could match Tyler's voice. "When I saw it, I was glad to see someone had done it, so I didn't have to," he said.

We're also glad someone did.