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Revisiting literal music videos, 14 years later

2023 Update: Over the span of some 14 years since I wrote this (wow), all of the YouTube links broke. I've fixed them (except for two that sadly vanished), though you may see a "view on YouTube" message instead of being able to watch them as overlays here. I also added three more videos—two thanks to comments from Aaron and Jordan—and one I just stumbled on while searching for new links. Originally published June 10, 2009.

Recently a friend introduced me to something called literal videos. A literal video is a remake, with a twist, of a popular music video, usually something older from the 1980s or 1990s.

The twist in the remake is that the lyrics for the song in the video are changed to reflect what's actually happening in the video. So if there's a shot of a car driving down the street, the literal video's lyrics will be something along the lines of "So there's a car ... driving ... driving down the street."

The words are sung by someone doing their best to match the musical sound and pacing of the original singer, making it seem like this is how the video has always been.

It's actually much harder to explain than it is to demonstrate. So, without further ado, here are four six of the funniest (to me, at any rate) literal videos I've found. If you haven't seen the original versions of these videos, the literal videos may not be quite so funny; I've included links to the originals, too.

  • Ah-ha's Take on Me [originalliteral video]. This was the original literal video, and I overlooked it when I first wrote this post. It's very well done. 2023 addition
  • Creed's With Arms Wide Open [originalliteral video]. Quite entertaining. 2023 addition
  • Men Without Hats Safety Dance [originalliteral video]. This one is crude in spots, but quite funny. Also, the literal version has been very nicely remastered in high def. 2023 addition
  • Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart [originalliteral video]. This one is, by far, my favorite. Some of the lines are absolutely hysterical. After watching it way too many times, there's no way I can watch the original now without hearing the literal video version's lines playing in my head.
  • Meatloaf's I'd do Anything For Love [originalliteral video]. Another very good effort, with some bits that are laugh-out-loud funny.
  • The Beatles Penny Lane Sadly, this one seems to be gone now.
  • Journey's Separate Ways This one's also gone.

I've searched YouTube pretty extensively, and these are the best examples I've found. Anyone have any other recommendations that I may have missed?

4 thoughts on “Revisiting literal music videos, 14 years later”

  1. I think the first (and best in my opinion) was A-HA's "Take on me". Very funny. Also I think that Tears for Fears "Head over heels" is pretty good.

  2. Total Eclipse is the one possessed of true genius. However, I quite liked the Creed - With Arms Wide Open one.

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