Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Rock Videos

Short movies using popular songs as their sole soundtracks, issued by recording companies in order to sell records; as such they are, strictly speaking, Commercials, though their increasing sophistication also qualifies them as a distinct new artform. Basically there are three categories: performance videos, showing the artists performing in a concert setting; "mood" videos, interspersing performance scenes with various images to inspire the emotions suggested by the song; and narrative videos, which convey a story connected to the song. Videos in the latter two groups often draw upon or are relevant to fantasy.

Some videos clearly derive from actual fantasy texts: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Don't Come Around Here No More" (1983) features characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice books; Blues Traveler's "Run Around" (1995) retells L Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz (1900) with modern-dress analogues of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion watching an impostor band as Toto pulls a curtain to reveal the real band playing behind them; and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (1983) and "Leave Me Alone" (1987) pay homage to a number of horror and sf movies. A number of fantasy characters and creatures also appear: Enigma's "Return to Innocence" (1994) features backwards movie clips and images of a galloping Unicorn; Madonna's "Cherish" (1989) includes some well rendered mermen (see Mermaids); The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Soul to Squeeze" (1993) shows the lead singer as a Serpent-haired Gorgon; Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract" (1989) shows the singer dancing with an anthropomorphic animated Cat; Elton John's "Blessed" (1995) presents a series of breathtaking fantasy landscapes while the singer floats as a head in a crystal ball; The Grateful Dead's "Touch of Grey" (1987) depicts the band as walking skeletons; and The Rolling Stones' "Love is Strong" (1994) shows band members as Giants, lumbering through New York. Other memorable fantasy videos include: George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set on You" (1987), where the singer lounges on a chair while every object in the room around him comes to life; A-Ha's "Take on Me" (1985), where a woman is drawn into a Comic book; Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" (1985), where animated manual labourers enviously watch glamorous imaginary videos; and Sting's "If I Ever Lose my Faith" (1993), where many striking tableaux recreate the mood of a medieval Romance, including one scene of Sting as Cuchulain, brandishing his sword at the sea. Two noteworthy videos with a definite fantasy narrative are Yes's "Owner of a Lonely Heart" (1982), an Orwellian nightmare about a man captured by anonymous oppressors who escapes by a Metamorphosis into a bird, and Mike and the Mechanics' "All I Need is a Miracle" (1987), showing the improbable comic misadventures of a band manager. [GW]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.