The music video for “Separate Ways” by Journey is widely regarded as one of the worst of all-time. It was memorably mocked by Beavis & Butthead during the show’s original run on MTV, and the network later went on to rank it as the 13th worst video ever made. There is a good reason for all the scorn it received: It is awful. Awful. The whole thing looks like it was shot in 30 minutes, edited in the next 30, and then shipped off to MTV in a manilla envelope labeled simply “MUSIC VIDEO.” Needless to say, I love it dearly.
The first few times I watched it — and I have watched it many, many times — I tried to grade it on a curve. “Well, I mean, it was 1983,” I said to myself. “Music videos were just becoming a thing, and they had to work with the limited resources they had at the time.” But then I thought about that some more and realized that 1983 was also right around the time the videos for “Beat It” and “Thriller” came out, and Journey was also a big-ass deal back then. They had the juice to demand a big, elaborate concert video, or one with some sort of narrative structure, if they really wanted it. But no. They chose to hang out on a wharf and play air instruments for a while. And thank god they did.
Watch the video for yourself, then join me on the following pages for a breakdown of all its crappy pieces. This one is mess.
The video opens with the band playing air versions of their instruments over the song’s opening notes, then magically, utilizing the modern movie-making technique of “a terrible jump cut” …
… POOF their instruments appear. We are literally 10 seconds into the video and it is already one of the worst I have ever seen. Buckle in, people.
There is a girl in the video. Because there is always a girl in the video. At this point all we know about her are the following things:
- She has legs
- She has a white jacket
- She has white shoes
- She has a butt (see above)
Will we find out more about this mysterious, apparently anatomically-correct vixen? KIND OF! (But not really.)
It is important to look back at videos like this one, if for no other reason, to remember that there was a time when Journey lead singer Steve Perry was a sex symbol. He really was. With groupies and everything. I do not mean this as an attack against Mr. Perry, who for all I know is a very nice man who loves dogs and gives lots of money to charity, but when you go home for the holidays in a few weeks, you would be entirely within your rights to back your mother into a corner and demand an explanation for this. She owes it to you. She owes it to society.