80’s Mania Mondays: That Creepy Video Though

If you are trying to guess what song that lyric is pulled from, just stop. Today’s song doesn’t have any lyrics. But what it does have is scratching, the DJ technique where the record is moved back and forth to create a “scratch” effect. It’s also the song that brought the hip-hop sound to the pop audience, even if the performer himself was as far removed from hip-hop as the east is from the west.

Today’s song is “Rockit” by Herbie Hancock.

Not going to even try to explain what that video is about, but it was, and still is creepy.

By the time Hancock got around to creating this song, he had been making music for over twenty years. In his twenties, he played with Miles Davis in his great mid-60’s quintet. That group, which featured Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams helped expand the jazz vocabulary. When the group went their separate ways in the late 60’s, Hancock became a fusion pioneer. The album Head Hunters from 1973 and its song “Chameleon” not only became one of fusion’s great songs, it turned out to be an R&B hit as well. Throughout the rest of the 70s, Hancock dabbled in all kinds of music: straight-up jazz, funk, and fusion.

Working with Grandmixer D. ST. and producer Bill Laswell, Hancock created this hip-hop influenced song that managed to make the R&B top 10. With rap and hip-hop music beginning to make inroads in popular culture then, no one would have ever guessed that this jazz great would bring the sound to the mainstream. That it was him speaks to his willingness to explore genres and sounds outside his supposed comfort zone, and to his amazing creativity.

Now can anyone tell me what in the world that video is about? Seriously, I never understood it back then, and I still don’t understand it now.

Anyway, that’s today’s 80s Mania Mondays song. Hope you enjoy it. As always, thanks for reading and listening.

14 Replies to “80’s Mania Mondays: That Creepy Video Though”

  1. I actually have the 12″ of this in my collection! I liked the weirdness of the video. I always thought that, since Herbie is the only human in the video, it was his way of showing how we were evolving into an entirely technological, robot-run society. That pretty soon, nothing would be “real” except for Herbie, playing his (synthetic) keyboard, and the robots would be enjoying life … with no meddling humans to mess things up. Which is a message that fits even better today, don’t you think? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I used to have that 12″ too, and the Mega-mix as well! Sadly, I donated them to Goodwill when I got the electronic versions.

      That explanation sounds as good as anything I’ve ever heard about the video. We meddling humans seem to mess up a lot of things, huh?

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      1. Absolutely! Another jazz legend (Miles Davis). That was one of my favorite classes in college. The professor was hilarious, made it fun. I made it a point to attend his class. Lol. Others not so much!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This was always one of my favorite videos, and was getting a lot of airplay when I first discovered MTV in 1984! Like a lot of early 80’s videos, I don’t know if there even was a meaning behind the video… it was just fun! IIRC, it was runner up to The Cars’ “You Might Think” as the first ever MTV Video of the Year award winner…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right about the MTV Video award. Hancock did win five VMAs that year, but he missed out on Video of the Year. Amazingly, that video for “You Might Think” only won that one award.

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  3. Um…I didn’t look at the video because, like you, I always thought it was crazy! But from what I remember it seems that there were mannequin body parts dancing all around.
    Just too crazy.
    Regardless, Herbie Hancock is a genius. I can just imagine him saying, “Check me out, I’m so bad, I can cross over and do YOUR stuff!”
    LOL!!!
    Good times!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He is a genius and extremely creative. So many songs in so many styles. I will admit, I was never crazy about his “singing” through the vocoder period though; I liked when he left the singing to other people, like on “Stars In Your Eyes” for example.

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