Van Halen may not have created too many classic music videos, but when they did get it right, the results were unforgettable. From hilarious to awesome to goofy as hell, here are the band’s 5 Best Music Videos.
There are three versions of the video for Van Halen’s classic power ballad “Dreams,” but the best (and best-known one) features the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels performing a slew of aerial stunts. A classic example of a rock band dropping any pretense of music video plot (or even concert footage) and just slapping a bunch of cool shit onscreen while their song plays.
Plenty of Van Halen videos are just concert footage and/or the band rock-syncing along to the album version of the song in a closed studio. This one is the latter, but it’s the best of them, with the entire band looking like they’re actually happy to be there and David Lee Roth giving the camera his best “come hither” eyes.
3) “(Oh) Pretty Woman”
Maybe not one of their best tracks, but their cover of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” produced one of the group’s most bizarre, memorable clips. As a Quasimodo-esque dude watches two evil little people (classy move, Van Halen) molest a tied up damsel in distress, he calls a group of archetypical heroes (a cowboy, samurai, Tarzan and Napoleon) to rescue her. Whoever came up with the idea for this video either spent way too much or far too little time hashing out the details, but either way, it’s one of the ’80s most strangely compelling clips.
You know you’re in for a treat when a music video kicks off with David Lee Roth hanging by a wire over the stage, swinging back and forth and pretending to swim in the air while wearing a pair of aviator goggles. The video might not make a whole hell of a lot of sense (why are they dancing in front of stripper poles one second and then playing in front of an arena the next?) but its throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach is a good fit for the group’s goofy bravado.
1) “Hot for Teacher”
Not just Van Halen’s best video, but one of the greatest rock videos of all time. Poor sweet, sensitive Waldo (voiced by Phil Hartman doing what sounds like a John Wayne impression) is sent into a nervous fit when his classroom’s elementary school teacher suddenly transforms into a swimsuit-wearing beauty pageant queen (played by real-life Playmate Lillian Muller). Aside from delights like kid versions of the band and an outro that reveals what they all grew up to be (Eddie Van Halen ends up in Bellevue, Roth becomes a game show host), there’s the video’s crowning achievement: the band’s shitty choreography. Dressed in brown-orange suits and attempting synchronized movements a la the Temptations, only Roth delivers — everyone else executes their movements with a slipshod two-second delay from the next person. Somehow, that IDGAF attitude makes it even better.
Honorable mention: The Claymation romance between two hamburgers set to “Everybody Wants Some!!” in the 1985 John Cusack-starring black comedy Better Off Dead.