Lately, it’s felt like we’ve been living in an ’80s flashback. Groups like MGMT and M83 are taking the best of New Wave to the present. U2, Depeche Mode, and KISS all came out with new albums. Michael Jackson is dominating the airwaves. All we need now is big hair and Chia Pets to make a comeback for the vision to be complete. While we’re living in this brief flashback, let us remember “The Warrior”, who valiantly died in one of the worst videos the ’80s had to offer.
“The Warrior” was a hit single by the rock group, Scandal. It was released in 1984 on the band’s only full-length album, Warrior. For the era, the song was pretty decent, containing many of the typical power rock styles found in a lot of tunes from that time. The song went as high as number seven on the Billboard charts. However, where the song succeeded, the video fails.
Almost from the very start, “The Warrior” makes it clear that it’s going to find whole new levels of cheesiness. A hand appears out of nowhere to claw at lead singer Patti Smyth’s jacket, leaving a yellow scratch mark on her leather. It’s this attack that causes her to start singing. I don’t know what symbolism they’re going for by having a scratch mark on her leather jacket where the hand touched her. But it went way over, or more likely, way under my head.
As the camera pulls away, we get to see that the creature who attacked Patti Smyth is the famed warrior of the song. Of course, the use of the word “warrior” here is pushing the term. Generally, warriors don’t wear grey padding like they belong in an episode of Power Rangers. Our protagonist also has the added bonus of looking like Bob Geldof if he was cast to play Sweeney Todd. From here, the music video disease known as “people/scenes thrown in for no apparent reason” begins to take effect. First, there are the blue flower girls. Then there’s the two people covered in mud with towels around their heads.
When we move into the chorus, the entire video transitions from random arty looking ideas to West Side Story. Four villains, who look and dance like they tried out for a pirate version of “Thriller,” jump out of nowhere to surround our hero. He defeats them with amazing shows of power, such as throwing manly smirks at them, posing in various battle stances, and acting like Spiderman. Disillusioned by this level of warrior skill, the enemies all retreat to wherever the hell they came from in the first place.
When Spidey finally slows down, he runs into a ballerina who dances with him as he holds her in a lover’s embrace. Then… I don’t really know what happens. The camera cuts to Patti Smyth singing while expressing emotions with hands. When it turns back to the girl, she’s seemingly dead. Even the warrior looks surprise at this turn of the events, though I’m sure the viewers will be more confused than anything. There’s no explanation for who killed her. Was it the “Thriller” pirates? The flower girls? Did the warrior do it himself? The video ignores this question in favor of the mud-covered people kneeling and swaying in front of the hero.
The camera then cuts to Patti Smyth again in another “what the hell just happened” scene. Throughout the video so far, Smyth had been dressed fairly normal. But when the chorus kicks in the second time, she appears with her hair standing on end and war paint covering half her face. I guess emoting with her hands just wasn’t enough. The face paint was needed to add more emphasis to the wild, animal side of the warrior. Soon enough, she’s the one fighting with the warrior during the guitar solo. As they fight, a clown with a referee shirt keeps score like it’s a professional wrestling match. The battle transitions into dance for the rest of solo and as the chorus returns for a final time, all the action stops to put the attention on Smyth. Since she’s just standing there singing and moving her hands around, the video instantly goes from confusingly weird to incredibly dull.
So by the end of this lovely joyride, I have more questions than I would ever want from a video. They’re not good questions either, like “Who directed that? Where can I buy that song?” The questions are more in line with “How did the girl die? Why does this warrior suck at fighting so much? Can I get the three minutes of my life back?” When all is thankfully said and done, “The Warrior” winds up being down for the count. But from the minute the video started, that was never going to be a surprise to anyone.