The Strangest and Most Wonderful Parties in Music Video History


Yesterday, Buffalo-based band Lemuria released the video for their new single “Scienceless.” It’s based around a sort of pre-apocalyptic end-of-the-world party, with the band welcoming an alien invasion by partying like there’s literally no tomorrow. It’s pretty great, actually, and it got us thinking about some of the other interesting parties that have featured in music videos over the years — straight-up pool parties are dime-a-dozen, obviously, but these videos are rather more interesting than that. Well, hopefully, anyway.

Smashing Pumpkins — “1979”

Like Dazed and Confused or Freaks and Geeks condensed into in a four-and-a-half-minute music video. Every hallmark of suburban adolescence is here: boredom, mild juvenile delinquency, and a rocking house party that’s clearly taking place while the parents are away.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood — “Relax”

Now this is what we call a party: drag queens, cages, a tiger, and a suitably bacchanalian Roman emperor type who seems to be enjoying proceedings immensely. It was all too much for the BBC, who banned the video, resulting in a tamer version for public consumption.

Fiona Apple — “Criminal”

She’s been a bad, bad girl. And so has everyone else at this party, by the looks of it.

The B-52’s — “Love Shack”

The Love Shack does look a pretty awesome place to be, but more to the point, what does Cindy Wilson scream when the music drops out in the middle of this song? And what does it mean? It’s been mystifying your correspondent for about 20 years.

David Lynch — “Crazy Clown Time”

And, yes, this is pretty much exactly the sort of party that we’d expect to find David Lynch at.

Weezer — “Beverly Hills”

Imagine if we really did live in a world where cashed-up LA business moguls called up their stylists to hold well-attended poolside listening parties for Weezer albums. Rivers Cuomo probably would be living in Beverly Hills instead of people like Pete Wentz. This world sucks.

The Prodigy — “Smack My Bitch Up”

Even setting aside its notorious twist, “Smack My Bitch Up” catalogs the brutal side of hedonism from start to finish, encompassing pretty much every destructive vice you can think of. Happy days! We make party! (On the off-chance you’ve never seen it, here’s your official warning: this video is definitely NSFW.)

The Notorious B.I.G. — “Juicy”

Rap videos that feature pool parties aren’t exactly thin on the ground, but there’s something beautiful about this one — the party pictured comes off as less the sort of hedonistic free-for-all that characterizes videos and more a genuine celebration of things going right for once. At this point, Biggie’s not jaded in the slightest, and rejoices in what life’s brought him: “My whole crew’s lounging/ Celebrating every day, no more public housing.” It’s all the more poignant for knowing how this particular story ended.

R.E.M. — “Imitation of Life”

At the other end of the scale, R.E.M.’s summeriest song came with a suitably summery video, which found the band at a strange and mildly sinister pool party that featured, among other things, a dude with his arm on fire, a monkey playing Peter Buck’s mandolin, and Michael Stipe doing a crazy dance.

The Beastie Boys — “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)”

And finally: best ever! “We could invite all our friends and have soda and pie!”