TV and movies matter, and thankfully our favourite musicians have recognized. Since the mid-1980s, artists have paid tribute to the creme de la creme of pop culture’s finest (and also to Mad Max), and we used that fact as an excuse to round up the best and brightest TV and movie spoofs in music videos. Ron Howard, if you can read this, we’ll take a movie about Weezer’s Happy Days influence anytime.
Iggy Azalea, “Fancy”
As IF Iggy Azalea copied Clueless! (See what I did there?) However, this interpretation was arguably a massive component in establishing “Fancy” as the song of the summer — especially since it stayed true not just to the friendship between Cher and Dionne, but to their clothes and social calendars (all while respecting the movie’s legacy). And while nothing will come close to watching Brittany Murphy roll with the homies circa 1995, there is something about imaging Cher Horowitz use “the realest” — because that’s absolutely what she is. (*writes 1000 more words on her own time*)
Weezer, “Buddy Holly”
When it comes to this Spike Jonze-directed masterpiece, the realization is simple: had the real Happy Days creators just enlisted bands like Weezer (or their ’70s equivalent) for Death Cab-on-The-O.C.-esque appearances, Fonzie never would’ve had to jump that shark.
Tupac and Dr. Dre, “California Love”
Maybe like some of us (hello), you didn’t see Mad Max. And maybe, because Mel Gibson stars in the action-adventure franchise, you never will. That’s fine. Because in 1995, Dr. Dre and Tupac released the video for the now-old school night staple, “California Love” — a spoof of the 1985 Mad Max film, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. (So don’t you ever say we missed anything in the ’80s.) Now, instead of watching Mel Gibson do anything, you can watch Dre and Tupac hang out in a desert. And this, among many things, is what makes them heroes.
Beastie Boys, “Body Movin'”
You like culture? Well, here. Here’s some culture: the Beastie Boys’ 1998 video for “Body Movin'” is actually a play on Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik, an Italian spy film that was released exactly three decades before. A film I believe might make exactly as much sense as this video. Which is, to say, quite a bit, actually.
The “how dare you” anthem of 2002 had much more credibility than just its Murda Inc. roots (S’MURDAAAA) — especially since the video for “Foolish” not only starred Academy Award-nominee Terrance Howard, it drew from Goodfellas, the 1990 mob saga. So I guess for as long as he can remember, Ja Rule wanted to be a gangster (which explains why he showed up to say only one line).
Drake, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
Say hello to our little friend. Despite Drake’s heart actually belonging to the Toronto Raptors, in his video for “Hold On We’re Going Home,” he pretends it belongs to the biz — the organized crime biz, and the violence (and act-ing!) that goes along with it. Enter: Drake as Scarface. A kinder, softer-faced, Degrassi-alum’d, sensitive Scarface. A Scarface who, after getting the job done, has a basketball game to get to. (#thirsty)
Smashing Pumpkins, “Tonight, Tonight”
First year film class survivors, listen up! The reason you may have thought 1902’s A Trip to the Moon looked familiar upon first viewing is because it is: the video for The Smashing Pumpkins’ 1995 hit was a play off the first science fiction film ever made. However, instead a straight-forward plot with simple black-and-white colouring, the Pumpkins answered the question of what would happen if A Trip to the Moon was ever remade. Or more specifically, what would happen if Billy Corgan ever went to space. (A lot. A lot would happen.)
Eminem, “My Name Is”
Once upon a time, Eminem wasn’t a 40-year-old rapper, he was a 20-something-year-old master of controversy. So while the video for “My Name Is” doesn’t focus on just one pop culture medium, it does use its four minute runtime to spoof everything from Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, to The Brady Bunch, to Marilyn Manson, to Cops, to the State of the Union. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting on a music video that features his mom’s spaghetti.
Outkast, “Hey Ya”
When The Beatles made their American TV debut on Ed Sullivan in 1964, it changed, well, everything. So why wouldn’t Outkast base their 2003 video for “Hey Ya” (best song ever, thank you kindly) on the ’60s phenomenon? Re-naming themselves The Love Below (which was one disc of Outkast’s two-disc album), various versions of Andre 3000 took to the “Sullvian” stage and instilled within all of us the easiest dance moves ever. So for that I say thank you, kind sirs — we will always be your screaming audience members.
Madonna, “Material Girl”
In 1953, there was Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Then, in 1984, there was Madonna in “Material Girl” — an equally iconic video that mimics Monroe’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” almost perfectly. (Almost — I mean, this was Madonna in 1984. Some risks were taken.) The unifying tie? These women were and are singing the cold, hard truths: all while wearing pink dresses and plotting financial security. Marilyn would’ve done well in 1984.
Red Man, “Whateva, Man”
See, now this just makes sense because Redman and Method Man are the Blues Brothers of hip-hop. The video for “Whateva Man” may have come out in 1996, but I think I speak for everybody when I say this premise is a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch we still deserve. (Or at least a live performance with Dan Aykroyd.)