It’s a widely known fact that, given access to a time machine, everyone’s first responsibility is to go back in time and kill Hitler. Obviously it’s scary and yes it will change the course of history in ways we can’t fully know, but it has to be done and that’s all there is to it. Besides, no one says you can only do one thing with your time machine, so after you kill Hitler and come back to the present, you can fire that shit up again and go whenever you want.
If I had a time machine and came back from killing Hitler, I think I’d like to visit the music industry circa 1994 or so. It was at this time that boy bands were just starting to gain steam, and while I would also purchase some Apple stock because I’m no dummy, I’d really like to get a piece of that boy band wealth. Specifically, I’d like to be the one who came up with the template for all boy band videos ever.
The template is this: have the boys in the band arrive at some improbable place, such as a rest stop, bus station, or photo shoot where no one is actually working to take photos. Give them a small handful of costume changes if the mood strikes them, throw in a little rain, and just watch them emote.
Every boy band video in the history of ever uses this template, and it’s fucking genius. I could watch these videos all day long, and I no longer want to fuck any of the people in them (or I want to fuck the people I never imagined fucking back when the videos were first released, which I guess means I’ve matured?). It’s such a simple yet satisfying concept, in that it isn’t really a concept at all. It’s pretty much the laziest thing to put in front of a camera (“Yeah, I dunno, just dance around or something for a minute, and then just, like, sit in a group or whatever”) but it’s mesmerizing, not least for the nostalgic pleasure centers in hits in our brains. Yes of course these videos take us back to the days when innocent crushes rushed like narcotics through our veins, but they also remind us of what it was like to lay around in our friends’ living rooms all day watching MTV (or, for those of us without cable, The Box) watching videos because we didn’t have to have jobs yet.
A shining example of this video concept is “Back For Good” by Take That, a British band that wasn’t a huge priority for me back in the day because a) they were British and b) Nick Carter wasn’t on meth yet and was way cuter. But Present Me knows that British boy band videos were actually so much more important than American videos, because when it comes to pop music, British people are so much more sincere than their American counterparts. British people don’t strive for legitimacy or art in their pop music; they strive for world fucking domination, and if you don’t believe me, I’ll remind you that the Spice Girls reunited for the hundredth time to play the Olympic opening ceremony and people lost their fucking minds. Britain is a class-ruled country, but it has zero pretension when it comes to pop bands.
To be honest, I’d forgotten about this video (and the band, and the song) until Stephanie sent it to me the other day. I must have watched it at least four times in a row, because I couldn’t get over how simple and brilliant it is, and how much fucking cash I’d have made on it if only I’d been involved (and not, um, 13 years old). Go ahead, watch it once or several times:
First of all, where is this? Besides England, I mean, which is obvious because it’s raining. Is this a photo shoot? A concert venue? A rail yard next to the interstate? Why are all of them in this one car (I assume, because we never actually see them exit the vehicle together)?
Edit: Nope, the band is clearly in the car at the start of the video. The dude in the hat (see below) is driving, and look at that sad little puppy staring out the back window!
Um, dudes, there’s a shelter and you were clearly running towards it, and now you’re just like “fuck it, let’s walk in the rain?” Besides the guy in the hat (seriously who is that guy I don’t remember him also he looks homeless), you all look pretty miserable without umbrellas. Oh, wait, nevermind, one of you is twirling.
Man, I love England. Anyone can be a little bit chubby and still be a superstar. Also, I know that I could easily look this up, but does that line go “a fist of pure emotion?” Because that would be awesome.
Vintage car covered in twinkle lights while a group of dudes grooves out to a power ballad in the rain? So heterosexual.
Possibly homeless guy is leaning against a car, and despite the hat, he’s getting rain in his face. We’re sure he’s a part of the actual band and not some junkie who just kind of wandered onto the set to meet someone, right? Right?
WAIT, I THINK HE IS JAMIROQUAI.
Whoever he is, he and the twirling guy from earlier are clearly the “funky” members of Take That, because the chubby one keeps singing and Robbie Williams just sort of sulks around in a fur coat while these two are just breaking it the fuck down with some sweet ass dance moves. See: twirling, finger snapping, and what my drunk cousins do when someone plays “Danny Boy” at a funeral.
Try catching raindrops on your tongue. It’s fun!
These guys are soaked and this doesn’t even look like fun anymore. Homeless Guy appears to be the most comfortable, although now his hat looks like the time George Costanza bought the ushanka from a street vendor and it turned out to be rat fur.
Someone ran out of ideas, so they spliced in Homeless Guy’s Janet Jackson video audition footage. He’s still wearing the hat, of course, but now he’s taken off his coat(s?) and jesus christ, for England this guy is fucking ripped.
KARATE KICKS! Man, do I have a thing for guys who wear layers. If one of them was in performance fleece and smelled like cigarette smoke and Cool Water cologne, 13-year-old Me would be so pregnant right now.
Robbie Williams just wants to get the hell out of Take That and start snorting blow off of strippers’ asses like a proper pop star. He’s so anxious, he can’t even decide whether or not to keep his fur coat on.
The chubby singer guy is the only one who doesn’t dance in the rain. In fact, he doesn’t even look like he’s getting wet. Insecurity, perhaps? Also, is he the one who’s dead now? (I assume that at least one of them is dead now.)
You guys, the video is so ridiculously brilliant that I don’t even know what the song is about, aside from wanting someone back for good. I guess there was a breakup, and that breakup was possibly due to someone’s infidelity? I don’t even know. I looked for clues in the video but there were none, because it’s infinitely more important to have five dudes dance around in the black and white rain than it is to tell a story, and in no way am I being sarcastic.
Look out, Take That. As soon as I kill Hitler, I’m coming after you.