Thursday, September 07, 2006


The things I missed out on back in 1999... I just found a long article on the history of the "Scopitone" For those who aren't obsessed with cheesoid '60s pop culture, the Scopitone was a video jukebox that started in Europe in the early '60s and came to North America in 1964. You could listen to the music, but there was also a screen where you could watch somebody singing (or lip-synching) the song. It was, in essence, the birth of MTV, and a bunch of three-minute music videos were made for the Scopitone before it died out.

There's a Scopitones website that posts some of the Scopitone videos (which are better-known simply as "Scopitones"). They are also on YouTube. The article gives a good idea of what kind of music and visual content the Scopitones had: basically, a bizarre combination of sexploitation and family-friendly variety-show corn. Or, rather, we now think of it as bizarre; in the '60s, as I've written before, it was absolutely mainstream to do sexually suggestive or borderline obscene material in a way that suggested that this was all supposed to be very wholesome and appropriate for the Kiddies. See any episode of "The Dean Martin Show" for an example of this.

Anyway, here are a couple of examples of Scopitone-osity:

"Trapped in the Web of Love," a video with stupefyingly literal interpretations of the lyrics and lots of wholesome obscenity, featuring Joi Lansing:

Neil Sedaka (or as Pinky called him on Pinky and the Brain, "Beloved tunesmith Neil Sedaka") in "Calendar Girl":

Barbara McNair in "On the Other Side of the Tracks" by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh:

Are you all '60'd out yet?

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