120 Reasons To Live: Sparks

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#118: Sparks “So Important”

Is it possible this was the only Sparks video to appear on 120 Minutes? Sparks, the L.A.-based duo of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, went on vacation in the late ’80s and didn’t really return until the early ’00s. “So Important” is from 1988’s Interior Design, and it’s symptomatic of some issues that may be preventing the full-on Sparktacular rediscovery: dated style and production that’s like a wall or tall shrubbery, inhibiting access to a deep reservoir of songs. Oh, but when Sparks returned with 2002’s Li’l Beethoven and 2006’s Hello Young Lovers, it began a renaissance in which the Maels’ annoying musical traits (mixing classical with rock, extreme repetition of lyrics and melody, bad puns) became unique assets. Below is the masterpiece from the modern Sparks songbook, “Dick Around”: