Their own music career peaked in 1980 in Australia with the top 20 hit, “An Englishman In New York” (which came with its own innovative music video), but Kevin Godley and Lol Creme had a much more significant impact on the decade in their role as directors. The British duo were behind some of the 80s’ most iconic visuals – ones that influenced other directors and artists, and gave music fans a series of captivating clips as the music video form took off.
“Fade To Grey” by Visage
One of the pair’s first commissions was the video for new wave band Visage’s breakthrough single. Simple but effective, the clip consisted of a series of close-ups of singer Steve Strange’s heavily made-up face and body, while in other scenes, he and Blitz Kid pal Julia Fodor (who lip-synced the French vocals) were covered by a transparent sheet.
“Girls On Film” by Duran Duran
This one got them plenty of attention! The racy video for Duran Duran’s third single featured scantily clad models pillow fighting and kissing, a naughty nurse massaging a Sumo wrestler and plenty of naked breasts. Naturally, the erotically charged clip was banned by the BBC and extensively edited for the newly launched MTV – the version now on YouTube – although the publicity didn’t hurt one bit.
“Every Breath You Take” by The Police
By 1983, Godley and Creme’s services were in high demand, and they were hired to shoot three music videos for singles from The Police’s Synchronicity album. The clip for the lead single, “Every Breath You Take”, is widely regarded as one of their best works and, indeed, one of the greatest videos ever made. Shot in black and white, it was inspired by 1944 short film Jammin’ The Blues, which depicted jazz musicians performing in a smoke-filled nightclub, and was filmed in the same location and using the same award-winning cinematographer as the 1981 video for “A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.
“Rockit” by Herbie Hancock
Showered with technical awards at the inaugural MTV VMAs in 1984, the cutting edge video for electro classic “Rockit” comprised scenes of motorised mannequins (created by artist Jim Whiting) moving around a house in time to the music. Herbie Hancock himself was relegated to appearing on a couple of TV screens seen around the house.
“Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood
They’d created a storm of controversy with their debut single, “Relax”, and its sexually charged lyrics, and for their second effort FGTH got political, with a little help from Godley and Creme's Cold War-themed video for “Two Tribes”, which depicted US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet general secretary Konstantin Chernenko in a no-holds-barred wrestling match.
“Cry” by Godley & Creme
The multi-tasking duo continued to record throughout the '80s and saved one of their most impressive visual tricks for their own video for this single from The History Mix Volume 1 (which was later turned into a top 5 hit by Lisa Edwards). The black-and-white clip for “Cry” featured a host of diverse faces, including their own, morphing from one to the next, using techniques considered revolutionary at the time. Six years later, Michael Jackson used the same effect in his “Black Or White” video.
“We Close Our Eyes” by Go West
Featuring the best use of a wrench in a music video – OK, possibly the only use of a wrench – the debut clip by pop duo Go West also contained an army of marching wooden artist mannequins behind a sweaty, dirty singlet-wearing Peter Cox and, occasionally, band-mate Richard Drummie. It was quite the introduction.
“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung
Another British duo who received a visually arresting video courtesy of Godley and Creme were Wang Chung, whose ARIA top 10 hit came with a video consisting of rapid edits between numerous takes of the band performing, resulting in a juddering, flickering effect. The ever-cautious BBC slapped a ban on this video, too, concerned about the potential for it to trigger fits in people suffering epilepsy.
“Hip To Be Square” by Huey Lewis & The News
Just as potentially disconcerting was the video for this “undisputed masterpiece” (according to American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman) from Huey Lewis & The News’ Fore! album. The directors utilised the type of medical cameras that are inserted into the human body for some ultra close-up shots of the band playing the song, with some footage filmed right inside their instruments.
“Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel / Kate Bush
Befitting the song it accompanied, the video for this duet was a much more sedate affair, but none the less powerful. One of two videos filmed for the collaboration between Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, Godley and Creme’s clip consisted of one continuous take of the performers hugging and singing the heartfelt ballad in front of a sun as it goes through a total eclipse.
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