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So you've read all the books on big screen dinosaurs and have seen all the dinos you can in pop culture and on television. Chances are you may've missed your favorite beasts making cameos on Music Television (back in the prehistoric days when they actually played music videos). In my own experience and out of my personal collection of 10,000 music videos I have only spotted a little over a dozen and here they are - to the best of my knowledge - in order of appearance.
THE HOODOO GURUS - "I Want You Back" (1984)
Wow, what an idea. The singer is sleeping in his room decorated like a child's, with a dinosaur mobile above. Next thing you know we're in some kind of trippy dream (note I don't consider this a nightmare per se) - and his dino toys are alive via claymation, fighting each other in back while the Gurus play. For all you readers, I am pretty sure they're derived from the common 1980s rubber ones from Imperial Toys. Maybe the kid wanted dinosaurs to come back as the title implies, but the song is actually just about a broken relationship. Regarding the dino imagery what do you expect from a group whose debut album Stoneage Romeos - from which this single was taken - had a color tinted photo of Harryhausen's Allosaurus from One Million Years BC?
THE POLICE - "Studies in Synchronicity" (1983)
Black and white promotional video (a medley of tracks from the band's last studio album) shows a completely fanciful dinosaur skeleton.
PYLON - "Beep" (1983)
Obscure band's video has a ton of random images apparently from a tour. Makes the list for a tiny glimpse of an Eryops skeleton (probably video from a museum visit). May not be so coincidental, as the album "Beep" appears on has Elbert Porter's Tyrannosaurus on it.
LUIS CARDENAS - "Runaway" (1984)
Luis Cardenas is one of those guys you've never heard of but for some reason, the no-hit wonder decided to record a cover of Del Shannon's classic, and make a video where anthropomorphic, mohawked, guitar playing dinosaurs steal the show. It seems to be all people remember about the song. Most of the time people seem to only remember the award-winning stop-motion animated by Chiodo Brothers. The characters even made their way to the jacket of the song's 7" single.
RUBBER RODEO - "Anywhere With You" (1984)
While an obscure video, viewers may remember the opening and ending showing Claude Bell's oversized T rex and Brontosaurus statues in their Cabazon, California roadside attraction. At the end, the Bronto winks at the camera. The location served as the cover of their album Scenic Views.
SHRIEKBACK - "Nemesis" (1985)
Imagine a parade of dinosaurs while the lyric is sung: 'Priests and cannibals - prehistoric animals, everybody happy as the dead come home'. But no, all we get is a spiralling nautiloid fossil and some very creepy looking band members. Cool song at any rate.
TEARS FOR FEARS - "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" (1985)
In this video, probably the most famous of all on the list, we pass by the Cabazon dinos once again. Trivia: The Cabazon dinos were also seen (and used) in the movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure released the same year. Well, not everybody can rule the world as dinosaurs once did.
SUPERTRAMP - "Cannonball" (1985)
No dinosaurs here, but throughout the video a caveman (resembling the ones from Geico commercials) wanders the modern world. Perhaps the band or the video director took a cue from Iceman (released the year prior). The paleoreferences didn't stop here; the band's LP Brother Where You Bound from which this single was taken featured the evolution of man.
GENESIS - "Land of Confusion" (1986)
Among the many Spitting Image caricatures (created by Roger Law) is a bizarre centrosaur-like ceratopsid with a stegosaur-plated back and a "Stone Age" satire scene with a T. rex. The Ronald Reagan character rides the ceratopsian near the end like a cowboy.
LOS LOBOS - "Shakin Shakin Shakes" (1987)
Only makes the list due to a few clips from old black and white horror and suspense films including silent The Lost World (some dinosaurs but also Bessie Love and the Apeman).
TALKING HEADS - "(Nothing But) Flowers" (1988)
Ok, no dinosaurs in this one but the word "DINOSAURS" in giant green lettering pan across the screen as David Byrne sings "since the age of the dinosaurs cars have run on gasoline". That was a close one.
WAS NOT WAS - "Walk The Dinosaur" (1988)
You'd think with a title like this we'd see something - claymation, old animation, silent movie stock footage, something. Boy, what a missed opportunity. All we get are dancers dressed as "cavewomen". Trivia: this track replaced Don Glut's "Dinosaur Tracks" in the opening of the documentary Hollywood DInosaur Chronicles when it aired on Discovery Channel in the early 1990s. In 2009, Queen Latifah remade it for Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - and they even made a music video for it.
RUSH - "Show Don't Tell" (1989)
A song said to be inspired partly by the Scopes Trial, there's a closeup of a fossil fish, an image that turned up on one of the band's tour book covers. Trivia: Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson often tours with a guitar rig guarded by an army of rubber and PVC dinosaurs.
PETER GABRIEL with Sinead O'Connor - "Blood of Eden" (1992)
Gabriel always strived for innovative or at least original concepts in his videos. Who could forget "Sledgehammer"? For this there's some traditional animation, and you may miss the silhouetted, tail-dragging T rex that leads a parade of animals across the screen (seen twice). Lyrics mostly evoke Biblical imagery - one line could suggest prehistoria: "I can hear the distant thunder - Of a million unheard souls". Trivia: Gabriel scored IMAX feature "Sea Monsters" in 2008.
FIGHT - "Immortal Sin" (1994)
In the beginning of this heavy metal video, kids are seen sitting playing with assorted dinosaur toys. Trying not to read too deeply into this...
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC - "Jurassic Park" (1994)
The entire video is clever Will Vinton style Claymation (three fingered T rex notwithstanding) illustrating the events of Jurassic Park in Weird Al's "MacArthur Park" rewrite/spoof. Even the cover of his Alapalooza album was based off the recognizable JP logo. As I am not an avid fan of JP or its sequels, I could laugh at the ridiculous storyline mocked in the lyrics. There are some fanatics who can't stand the song and very few of them are old enough to be familiar with the song it spoofed. Some of them have made videos edited themselves from clips from the actual movie to the song on youtube. Best part: Barney's decapitation.
THE B.C. 52s - "Meet the Flintstones" (1994)
The B-52's were the perfect choice to do a cover of the 1960s animated show's theme song for the Hollywood live action remake. The video has the expected stoneage theme with the movie actors but what's notable is when Beavis and Butt Head attacked it on their own program. Beavis asks Butt Head if the stone age was really like this and is told that the stone age was more like Jurassic Park. After stumbling a few times on the word's pronunciation, Beavis finally declares the video's depiction of the stone age "int-accurate".
BJORK - "I Miss You" (1997)
Ex-Sugarcube Bjork appears in another one of her imaginative, wacky videos, riding a cute animated brontosaurus reminiscent of a 1940s Terrytoon. Taking the title into consideration, I guess even rock stars miss dinosaurs time to time.
PEARL JAM - "Do The Evolution" (1998)
After deciding they wanted to make MTV videos again, it was hard convincing the band to actually appear in their own videos. Good thing they decided to do 'the evolution' here animated, it's a brilliant creation. It starts with a single cell multiplying Fantasia style, and then quickly cuts to busy menagerie of life under the sea. A eurypterus is eaten by Dunkleosteus which is promptly eaten by a shark which is snatched up in the jaws of a T. rex, which then turns and gulps down an ornithomimus, before the meteor strikes down and destroys everything. Prehistoric man is also shown and later modern man - still refining the art of killing our own species.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE - Renegades of Funk (2000)
Don't blink or you may miss the animated Triceratops vs. Tyrannosaurus excerpt from PBS' The Dinosaurs! in the opening stanza to the song.
THE POLICE - "Walking In Your Footsteps" (Live 2008)
This was not actually aired on MTV - but it's worth mentioning that on tour and now seen on their live concert DVD Certifiable. During the song which makes clear lyrical references to brontosaurus and fossils, a CGI sauropod skeleton periodically flashes across the rear video screen.
This is also the tune I chose as the background intro page music. (Of course this is not my property but rather A & M Records or their current owners.)
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS - I am a Paleontologist (2009)
Not one of the Giants' best, this would be a good children's show video/song. Also used in a Payless Shoes commercial in 2010.
HOLLY CAVANAGH - Outer Limit (2013)
The American Idol contestant had this video shot with the oft-filmed Cabazon dinosaurs in the background.
CLOSING THOUGHTS -
Amazing that during the last 30 years not a single band ever decided to film in a dinosaur museum hall! Some of these have been uploaded to Youtube naturally if they are not available on the respective artist's own DVDs.