3 Memorable Music Videos Inspired by Cult-Classic Films

Music videos and movies have been intertwined ever since MTV made the former ubiquitous in the 1980s. For songs that were part of a movie’s soundtrack, music videos frequently had tie-ins to the films the music appeared in. Other videos, such as the ones for Madonna’s “Material Girl” (inspired by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and “California Love” by 2Pac featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman (inspired by Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome), paid tribute to box office hits, even if they had no connection to them otherwise.

Videos by American Songwriter

It’s a bit harder to find videos that took their inspiration from films that have more of a cult following, but those exist, too. The three music videos featured here all borrowed generously from cult-classic films, and each is arguably the most memorable video associated with the artist who made it.

“Everlong” by Foo Fighters (1997)

There is a lot going on in the official video for “Everlong,” which was one of the first music videos ever made by Foo Fighters. The basic premise is Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins (playing the role of Grohl’s female partner) are having disturbing, violent nightmares that overlap with each other. Within this story, there are nods to the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious and his partner Nancy Spungen, and the Teddy Boy movement, as well as images straight from director Michel Gondry’s own dreams. The video’s settings and style are odes to the 1981 horror film The Evil Dead. In particular, the fast-moving, shaky shots that appear early in the video were a device used in The Evil Dead, and the scenes taking place in a cabin in the woods are also evocative of the movie.

There may be an homage to yet another cult-classic film tucked away in the middle of the video. Grohl dreams that he (as Sid Vicious) tries to answer a loud ringing phone that is several times his size—which is similar to a gag used in the 1984 comedy Top Secret! It’s also an interesting coincidence that Grohl unsuccessfully tries to lift the phone’s receiver as Louise Post’s backing vocals, which were recorded by phone, enter the mix. Or maybe it’s no coincidence at all.

With 310 million views, the clip for “Everlong” is Foo Fighters’ second-most viewed official music video on YouTube, trailing only their video for “The Pretender.” It was nominated for Best Rock Video at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, though Aerosmith’s video for “Pink” won the category.

“Don’t Wanna Lose” by Ex Hex (2014)

Ex Hex’s debut album Rips was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2014, and the leadoff track “Don’t Wanna Lose” was the first exposure many listeners had to the band. The song’s video was every bit as well executed as the album’s power-pop arrangements. The clip is close to a frame-by-frame reenactment of a scene from the 1982 Lou Adler film Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, right down to the hand claps, choreography, and wardrobe changes. Specifically, Ex Hex’s performance mirrors that of the movie’s titular band as they play the song “Join the Professionals” in the final scene.

The concept for the video came from its director Lara Jean Gallagher, who has also made music videos for She & Him, Allison Crutchfield, and Wild Flag (another band featuring Ex Hex vocalist/guitarist Mary Timony). The video was shot in Portland, Oregon, and included rooftop performance scenes. In this particular instance, mimicking the windblown shots from the movie proved to be a difficult experience for Ex Hex. Drummer Laura Harris tells American Songwriter, “All of the roof scenes were great fun, but we were freezing.”

Those familiar with the movie will appreciate Gallagher’s attention to detail. One scene in the film shows the Stains doing a promotional shoot, with frontwoman Corinne Burns (played by Diane Lane) holding a Gold record. Then her bandmate Jessica McNeil (played by Laura Dern) leans over and reminds Corinne to spit out her gum. Harris explains how Ex Hex recreated that scene on the fly. She says Gallagher told her to “whisper to Mary that she needs to spit out her gum.” Harris adds, “I don’t think Mary was even chewing gum, but it was such a great detail. We had been touring so much at that point, so that absolutely is something that would have happened in real life.”

In this scene, Timony is holding a copy of Rips, instead of a Gold record plaque. While Rips didn’t go Gold, it did reach No. 170 on the Billboard 200, and No. 24 and No. 46, respectively, on the magazine’s Top Alternative Albums and Top Rock Albums charts.

“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX (2014)

We could have gone with any number of Iggy Azalea’s videos, as she has made several that reference cult-classic films. Her most popular one is for her chart-topping breakthrough single “Fancy.” There is no mistaking it as a tribute to the 1995 comedy Clueless right from its opening moments. The title sequence uses the same font and style as the film’s logo, and the first scene features Azalea looking like Alicia Silverstone’s lead character Cher Horowitz. She is shopping for clothes online, adding a 21st-century touch to the ‘90s setting. Charli XCX takes on the role of Tai Frasier, played by Brittany Murphy in the movie.

In other videos, Azalea has paid tribute to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Showgirls, Kill Bill, Earth Girls Are Easy, and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Director X’s video for “Fancy” received nominations for four awards at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, but it did not win in any of the categories. However, “Fancy” lost the Best Pop Video award to another video featuring Azalea—the video for “Problem” by Ariana Grande featuring Azalea took the honors. “Fancy” turned the tables on “Problem” at Billboard.com’s 2014 Mid-Year Awards when “Fancy” won Best Music Video. Azalea’s video for “Fancy” has received 1.1 billion views on YouTube.

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Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

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