Friday, July 24, 2015

The Films of David Lynch: I Predict by Sparks (1982)

Music Video: I Predict by Sparks (1982)

Between The Elephant Man (1980) and Dune (1984), David Lynch directed a music video for the cult group Sparks. I have to be honest, I don’t think I had ever heard of Sparks before I saw this video on Lynch’s Wikipedia filmography, and then tracked it down on Youtube for this series. But despite my ignorance of the group, they have had a long career, where the two permanent band members, brothers Ron and Russell Mael, have taken on many different genres over their 40 plus year career. They have even made a radio musical entitled The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, which may be turned into a film by Guy Maddin.

The song I Predict is a catchy little number – nothing brilliant or ground-breaking – it sounds like many songs from the early 1980s, which isn’t my favorite musical era. The lyrics though are quite good – a little strange and joke-y, the song, as the title suggests, makes a series of bizarre predictions about what going to happen – ending the song with the lyric, and this song will fade out, which, of course, it does. The song became a minor hit in America – and perhaps would have become more had the video not been banned by MTV.
When you hear that a video was banned by MTV, you would expect it to be explicit or controversial. I Predict isn’t – at least not my today’s standards. The bulk of the video is made up of two types of shots – the lead singer (Russell) singing the song (standard), and keyboardist (Ron) doing a striptease on a cabaret stage with a Hitler mustache. There is no nudity in the video – but I guess the combination of cross dressing striptease and a Hitler mustache was enough for MTV to ban it.

The video, it must be said, not particularly good. It isn’t particularly bad either – it’s just like most music videos, it sells the song, and it ends, and you forget about it. Back in 1982, MTV and videos were in their infancy – so perhaps this looked provocative (after all, Lynch and the band couldn’t do much more – they already got banned for this). It’s something, but like the song, the video is amusing and not much else.

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