JT: What’s up my ginger angel? Let’s keep the ball of nostalgic wax rolling along, eh? And speaking of wax, it is music time… Early 90s music time… Early music VIDEO time even…
This time around we are going to dive into and break down the music video for “Crazy” by Aerosmith. Now, Aerosmith doesn’t scream “1990s” per se, but this video does! It’s quite the piece of business, especially for a thirteen year old in 1994. Hache. Mache.
Before we get to business, thoughts on Aerosmith as a band… Fan? Not a fan? Neither?
Chris: My main man, the Rhode Island Iced JT, what are you doing to me, man? I was a little older than thirteen in 1994, but just as hormonal, if not more so, for this video. I think this thing ended up on a VH1’s Greatest of All Time list and is definitely a product of its era. I’m going to try my best to not revert back to 1994 Chris and break out into creepy little sweats when watching it again.
As for Aerosmith, I would say that they were a band that, while not a personal favorite, definitely had a few songs that I would consider mixtape worthy. Of course, now all I hear on classic rock radio is “Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion” at least eight times a week, so there is also some stuff I’m burned out on from them. The mid-90s were a bit of a revival for them, and with their album Get a Grip in 1993, where “Crazy” and “Cryin'” came from, they found an even younger, newer fanbase. These songs were for the chicks, though.
JT: Yes they certainly had a mid-90s revival and spoke to a different audience. And again later in the decade, but we will get there.
I know they have some classics but I have just never been a big fan overall. My first true exposure to them as far as my memories go was probably the use of “Dude Looks Like a Lady” in Mrs. Doubtfire, and I definitely thought it was “Doin’ It Like a Lady” for a long time.
If I never hear Dream On again I will be just fine.
That all said… Get a Grip certainly skyrocketed them back into the mainstream and a big piece of that we’re the music videos for “Cryin'” and “Crazy”.
Of course, “Cryin'” came out first and the video featured Alicia Silverstone, a child actor that had been lauded for her role in The Crush and seemed ready to really explode.
And speaking of explode… That scene at the tattoo parlor.
Anyway, before we dissect “Crazy”, want to share thoughts on “Cryin'” and your first cognizance of Alicia?
Chris: “Cryin'” is another huge 90’s tune that every chick I knew was into. I mean, when you gather with friends at a house party, when that song came on, all the chicks would sing in unison, while the guys would sit around and play Royal Rumble on the Genesis.
The ladies were probably singing about all these losers they were with that weren’t paying any attention to them. But seriously, why would you even want to be with a chick that sings along to “Cryin'” anyway?
I have to admit that I don’t remember The Crush. Here I am, reviewing retro films at www.retromovienerd.com, and I’ve never seen The Crush. Well, put it on the list then. Look for that review in the future. My first exposure to Alicia Silverstone was from the Aerosmith videos. She was probably around 17 at the time, which would put me right around her age, maybe a couple years older. I can’t recall being too enamored with her, although she certainly looked good. Her 90s attitude was on full display in the videos. This was around the time that grunge music really started to take off and shed light on a whole subculture of slackers with attitudes. I think she was a good embodiment of that: she looked like she couldn’t care less.
Of course, then “Clueless” came along and we all know what that movie means to the 90s. She was the centerpiece of that and it’s what really strapped the rocket to her ass, if you know what I mean. But was it too much too soon for her? Do you think she was overexposed?
JT: They were probably trying to forget you as you sat there playing wrestling video games during a party.
I do look forward to the review. I don’t remember the movie that well either but it was definitely her first break out step before these videos pushed her to the next level. Clueless was the big score, and she needed it after getting passed over for My So Called Life. She definitely was the embodiment of that era thanks to that movie and I thought she had a very good look, one that carried over to her stint as Batgirl in Batman & Robin. Where do you rank B&R in the Batman anthology? She wasn’t very memorable but fit in well enough and made sense as a casting choice at the time.
I don’t think she was overexposed. She was young, very attractive and had a pretty good resume to that point. Her trajectory was on point and then she seemingly vanished. But, that is for another day.
So, in “Cryin'”, Alicia is burnt by a cheating boyfriend and goes off on a rebellious joyride that is capped with a pair of fairly iconic scenes:
– Navel piercing (pretty revolutionary and seemed to uptick in popularity following this)
– Apparent suicide that ends up being a bungie jump with a big middle finger to her ex
The video got major air play and cleaned up at the MTV Awards (huge at the time, natch), which is not a shock.
We will dive into “Crazy” in a moment, but any thoughts on the “Cryin'” video as well and how it sets up “Crazy”.
Chris: Batman & Robin is the worst of the Batman quadrilogy (quadrology?) Alicia Silverstone was fine as Batgirl and she was the least of that film’s issues.
As for “Crazy” the Video, it really was a star-making vehicle for Silverstone. It basically played out as a movie, with the setup, the build and then the twist ending. You think she’s going to kill herself over some jamoke (played by Stephen Dorff) but SURPRISE!! She was seeking everyone’s attention by bungee jumping off the bridge. I think the 90s introduced a whole new generation to the term “HEAD CASE”. Yeah! Flip the bird, you crazy-acting lunatic! It was one of the most requested videos of the time for MTV. The naval-piercing thing really did take off, as did emergency room cases of infection, as it turns out.
“Cryin'” was actually followed by “Amazing”, another video starring Silverstone and another guy who will connect all the dots to our 90s retrospectives. Jason London co-stars in the Amazing video, but also appears at the end of the “Crazy” video. He is also the brother of Jeremy London, who starred in Mallrats, a previous topic for We Miss the 90s, which was a movie that took place in a mall, which was also a previous We Miss the 90s subject.
See what I did there? Connected the dots. Like a magician.
JT: I feel like “Amazing” kind of gets forgotten in all this. The song isn’t as catchy or good, frankly, even though it did experience charting success. It also felt a bit ahead of its time with all the virtual reality stuff going on. Do you put this song on par with “Cryin'” and “Crazy” from a nostalgia/holds up well stand point?
I guess we can sidetrack here for a second too. How amazing (see what I did there?) were music videos at this time? Like fucking movies man! This was a God damned trilogy! The rewatch value so high and they told stories and had tremendous cinematography and special effects and budgeting and stars. I mean… what a time! Why did this genre fall off a cliff like it did? It was a major part of anyone aged 12-22’s life between 1984sh and 2000, right? Am I accurate there? It felt that way at least.
Answer THAT and then we can finally get to “Crazy”!
Chris: Having just recently listened to the album Get A Grip, where all of these great songs are from, I can say that “Amazing” definitely ranks third in the Alicia Silverstone trilogy. “Crazy” has that sing-a-long chorus that I can still remember all the girls in our little group singing during our nerd-fest video game sessions. “Cryin'” is more of the same. A little tidbit of info here: this album had Aerosmith leaning on outside songwriters for the first time as they were trying to crossover more with a mainstream audience, so Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and the gang had no hand in coming up with the lyrics for these hits.
I get nostalgic for music video channels quite often. Back in Canada, we had MuchMusic and that was the most-watched channel in the house. Music video premieres used to be big events, like whenever Michael Jackson would debut a new one. With YouTube coming along in the mid-2000s, this became a venue where all the kids could get their music video fix. Just check out your TV Guide channel (or Pop TV now, thanks Obama!) and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a 24/7 music video channel. Kids coming up now will never know what it was like to stay up late and watch 120 Minutes. It’s sad, really. Aerosmith was definitely one of the bands that took full advantage of the format, however.
JT: It is sad in many ways. It was such a ritual to watch the top video countdown in the morning and then trying to catch your favorites throughout the day. They added so much value and made the songs seem larger than life. The magic just changed at some point and I think I point to the advent of MP3 and downloadable music more so than YouTube. I know we had CDs and cassettes in the 90s, but music felt much more like a TV item at that time too because our resources to hear that song we love were so limited. By 2001 you could just download and listen to it whenever you wanted and didn’t need to sit around waiting for it to hit the radio or MTV airwaves.
Talk to me about “Crazy”. To me it’s the video that stands out the most. Hell, why wouldn’t it…. Alicia and Liv basically look like they are about to bang at any given minute throughout this one. That is more than enough to get any teenager fired up. What stands out the most to you as far as the video? Then we can look at the song.
Chris: I’ll be honest here and tell you that the one thing that stands out the most for me is the pervy older guy sitting outside the gas station watching Liv pump gas in her tight leather pants… AND SHE LIKES IT!!!! In 2016, Liv is posting on Instagram or Twitter trying to shame the old codger.
Liv and Alicia acting like total marks for themselves the entire video, essentially shoplifting and paying for stuff with racy photos. This video must have set back women’s lib back to 1970s standards.These two make Jenny from Forrest Gump look like Mother Theresa. Liv Tyler did a pretty spot-on impression of her old man in the karaoke scene. Another thing that stood out was the farmboy they picked up near the end of the video and dumping his sorry ass after catching him digging for nostril gold.
Ultimately, I feel that it’s the story of the video that stands out. I mean, if you put the video on mute, you could basically follow what’s going on. It’s like five minute short film that takes full advantage of the medium of the era.
JT: Where do these videos rank all time for you? What are some of your all time favorite classics? Like were these regularly in your memory banks before I brought them back up?
Chris: As far as all time goes, I can think of many others that I enjoy more. Such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, which is probably just the greatest music video of all time. In fact, MJ’s video library is quite iconic, which includes “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”. For the 90s decade itself, you have to remember that we had “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys, as Spike Jonze is probably the best director of the music video genre. Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” and Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” will round out my top three of the 90s.
These videos were cutting edge at the time, but Aerosmith’s collection probably had a wider mainstream appeal because of the “it girls” involved and the fact that these songs were more accessible. Not everyone was a Beastie Boys/Weezer/Fatboy Slim mark like me.
JT: Those are all really good ones. Some of my strongest music video memories are of Salt-N-Pepa… “Shoop” and “Whatta Man” at age 14? Hot damn.
Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” still holds up to this day as well.
Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” too of course, that was a full 10 on the Hache Mache scale.
And as a huge Biggie Smalls fan, he has some memorable ones that had mini movies attached like “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money, Mo Problems”.
Ok any final thoughts as we put a bow on this?
Chris: It’s been pretty fun reminiscing about not just Aerosmith’s hot run back in the early 90’s, but reminiscing about music videos in general. I used to make comp tapes of music videos for rainy day watching. It was the best way for an artist to promote their new and current work, and there were television networks that would play nothing but music videos 24/7. It was a different time. You may still get on the internet, go to Youtube and watch videos on there but trust me….it’s not the same. A lot of film directors got their start in the music video industry, but now in this era, the art form is not given the attention it once was.
“Crazy” was one memorable video, gave the rocket push to a starlet or two and provided a band the opportunity to reach a whole new audience and that allowed them to hang on even longer. Of course, the music video also gave us the MTV Video Music Awards, which was always a trainwreck of epic proportions. And who doesn’t love a train wreck?
JT: We all do, Chris. We all do. One even runs the Nation!