If you’re looking for Rihanna or Fifth Harmony, you need to leave, because they’re not here.
With that out of the way, once upon a time, music videos were my life. My brother and oldest sister were in middle school and high school when I was but a wee lass, empire being the farthest thing from my mind. So that meant that BET and MTV* were on constant rotation in my household. From an early age, I fell in love with music videos, an appreciation I carried into my adult life, but that doesn’t mean that television did.
Technology, as it does with many things, made showing music videos on a near constant loop on television all but obsolete. The main BET network barely shows them and MTV only shows them overnight. MTV also purchased summertime main stay The Box and turned it into MTV2, and of course, all the programming now is a mix of scripted shows, scripted reality shows, reality shows, reruns and showings of C-List movies.
So I am left to scour YouTube and other media for music videos. However, because of my current dissatisfaction with today’s music (those damn youngsters, as if I’m so old myself), I don’t always look for new things. I’ve found some gems though.
If you know me, you know that this is one of my favorite songs of all time, word to Kanye. Peter Gabriel, formerly of the band Genesis along with Miami Vice pilot episode hero Phil Collins, recruited Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns, the in-house band for Memphis based label Stax Records to lead the horn section for this song, in addition to the talented backing vocals section of P.P. Arnold, Coral “Chyna Whyne” Gordon and Dee Lewis. A synthesized shakuhachi flute rounds out the song. Released 30 years ago in April of 1986, “Sledgehammer” is Gabriel’s only number 1 U.S. hit and won nine MTV Music Video Awards (back when they meant something), including Video of the Year and remains the most played music video in MTV history. 3rd Base, Naughty by Nature and Jermaine Dupri have sampled the song. This is all stuff you can find on Wikipedia though (I sure did).
I love the song though, mainly because it reminds me of 1960s Soul music and it should because that’s where Gabriel got his inspiration from. I could totally imagine my grandparents and my mother as a young child playing this on vinyl in their living room while entertaining guest, the cigarette smoke of my grandmother’s dear friend floating in the air and liquor flowing freely (because before everyone aged and/or died, that’s how they rolled). The lyrics are clever, and if you aren’t up on it, you wouldn’t know that he’s talking about getting up on it. I live in the gutter on a semi-regular basis but I can appreciate cleverly veiled sexual innuendo.
So enjoy the video in all it’s HD glory.
*MTV was still easing into rap and hip hop around this time, so I for sure got most of my entertainment out of MTV due to Rock N Jock Baseball (can they bring that back or is everyone too full of themselves for it?), Bevis and Butt-head, Ren and Stimpy, Singled Out, Spring Break and later on Daria and Celebrity Deathmatch. Long story short, we didn’t always have MTV on for the music videos.