Blade Runner . . . the Music Video!
The 1982 film Blade Runner has made a lasting impression upon audiences all over the world, and has especially influenced other film and television directors with its future noir style. Five years after the film’s release, British progressive rock band Genesis paid homage to Blade Runner with their music video to “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” which makes no secret of its inspiration.
“Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” was the fourth single to be released from the 1987 album Invisible Touch, and managed to reach No.3 in the US charts, but only No.18 in Britain. The song was originally going to be called “Monkey, Zulu” and does not make any overt references to Blade Runner. The narrative of the song opens with a sense of being trapped “Like a load on your back that you can’t see,” but the situation is going to be resolved soon, “Cos tonight, tonight, tonight – oh, I’m gonna make it right.” The music is dark and ominous, and it becomes clear that our narrator needs to pay off a debt, presumably to someone dangerous; there is a shadowy gangster feel to the song. Whatever the situation is, it is clear that our protagonist is trying to escape, “Please get me out of here/Someone get me out of here.”
The video was shot in the Bradbury Building, the exact same location as the J.F. Sebastian apartment scenes of Blade Runner, and is decorated with the same lighting, fencing, mannequins, etc. that were in the movie. The famous L.A. building has been the location for dozens of films and TV shows dating back to film noirs of the 1940s; there have also been a handful of music videos made there in addition to Genesis.
Aside from capturing the oppressive feel of the Blade Runner cityscape, the video is not actually that engaging. The band all wear long coats reminiscent of Rik Deckard (played by Harrison Ford), and Phil Collins’s movements around the building feel more like the confident stride of Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer). About three quarters of the way in there is some drama with an unknown person being beaten by a gang in some alleyway, but aside from that, and the great Blade Runner visuals, the video falls rather flat . . .
Despite the lost potential of the music video, the song is still strong and feels like it should appear on some 1980’s film or TV soundtrack. This would have made, and still could, an effective montage scene for our hero working hard to get all the pieces together and finally resolve the problem . . . only for some unforeseen element to go completely wrong when the deal goes down. Anyone else feeling inspired to write a Cyberpunk short story and call it “Monkey, Zulu”?