David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s ‘Dancing in the Street’ Video Is Even Crazier Without Music
There was absolutely no shortage of unintentional hilarity beaming out over the MTV airwaves during the '80s, but from the moment David Bowie and Mick Jagger's exceedingly ill-advised promotional clip for their cover of Martha and the Vandellas' 'Dancing in the Street' made its debut, rock fans knew they were witnessing a bad music video for the ages.
In a way, it's the perfect visual counterpart for the song, which pulls off the admittedly rather extraordinary feat of managing to sound both haphazardly tossed off and calculatedly overproduced. Like any number of '80s covers of '60s classics, Bowie and Jagger's 'Dancing' tried to "update" the original arrangement with trendy noises; synth-lovin' production duo Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, fresh off Elvis Costello's 'Goodbye Cruel World' LP, were brought in to supervise the sessions, which -- as you might guess, given all the slapdash clattering going on -- had to be completed in a matter of hours, given the singers' tight schedules.
With the song in the can, our duo immediately decamped to the London Docklands to cut the video. Director David Mallet boasts some pretty impressive credits on his resume, but he didn't have much to work with here: Pressed for time and clearly loopy with lack of sleep or something, Bowie and Jagger resorted to a lot of jumping around and exaggerated preening, all of which looked catastrophically silly even by the Day-Glo standards of the decade. There's camp, and then there's Bowie and Jagger's 'Dancing in the Street.'
That didn't stop the song from becoming a hit, however -- and whatever our problems with the recording or the video, we can at least be happy the whole thing was done for a good cause, as the duet was organized as part of Live Aid, and all proceeds went to charity. Given that the '85 'Dancing' broke the Top Five in the U.K. and made it all the way to No. 2 in the U.S., we can safely assume that plenty of money was raised, and we're thankful for that, as well as the many laughs the video's given us over the years.
We wouldn't have believed such a thing was even possible, but now the video's even funnier: YouTube user Mario Wienerroither's 'Musicless Musicvideo' series -- which is exactly what it sounds like -- has added 'Dancing in the Street' to its list of victims, and the results are predictably hilarious. Without all that synthy bombast backing them up, Bowie and Jagger are just a couple of grunting, foot-tappin' fools, and we're helpless with laughter. Check out the clip embedded at the top of this post, and see if you don't prefer this version to the original.