Every week, we dig in the archives for videos that we find noteworthy, memorable, or just unbelievably stupid. And then, Jon McMillan breaks ’em down for you. Why Video Hangover? Because when you watch as many videos as we do, you’re going to feel it afterwards.

“Sun City”
Artists United Against Apartheid, 1985

Join us as we journey back to the days of Atari, apartheid, and all-star jams.


Unfortunately, they don’t make ’em like this anymore
1984-1991 were prime years for all-star musical lovefests, but how many of those projects actually made the difference they were supposed to make? “We All In The Same Gang” (failed to end gang violence in LA), “We Are The World” (failed to end famine in Africa), and “Band Aid” (failed to end the same famine, using only British people), were all great videos, but two decades on the problems they attempted to tackle still exist. On the other hand, history has proven kind to Steven Van Zandt, whose personal quest to raise awareness of South African apartheid ended a few years later with the end of South African apartheid, thus freeing him to spend his fifties glorifying sociopathic behavior and a casual disregard for human suffering. But it’s true that Van Zandt, between the album and the documentary that accompanied the “Sun City” project, did an amazing job bringing people together and raising awareness. Anyone who can rally Miles Davis, Brett Michaels and the Fat Boys around a cause that doesn’t involve heroin, hot chicks, or an enormous sandwich has got to be doing something right.

I can’t go for that (system of codified racial discrimination), no can do
You know who doesn’t give a crap about apartheid? Daryl Hall. At least that’s what I was thinking at the 3:04 mark, when John Oates and his man-eating moustache appear alongside … Lou Reed? Fortunately Daryl shows up a few minutes later to set the record straight.

Maybe he was just trying to impress Ashford and/or Simpson
Legend has it that Bruce Springsteen was sick when he recorded his infamously guttural turn at the “We Are The World” microphone, but after revisiting “Sun City” I’m not so sure. Apparently that’s just the way he sounds. But the Boss has nothing on Bono, in full Rattle And Hum mode as usual. Lou Reed, Joey Ramone, Run DMC — everybody comes on, does their thing, and gets out of the way. Even the guy from Midnight Oil gets it! But Bono tries to impart every syllable with the gravitas of a gospel preacher on Sunday morning and ends up looking and sounding, for lack of a more elegant visual, like he has a bowel obstruction. But, you know, he’s Bono, so I guess you have to keep inviting him to these things.

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Comments (16)
  1. el b  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2007 0

    Besides Dan Ackroyd and John Candy, Bono has to hold the record for being involved in the most “charity” singles.

  2. Ashton  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2007 0

    O… M… G…

    Well, at least it was for a good cause?

  3. mrs  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2007 0

    OMG! I totally loved this song when I was in high school. It totally taught me about apartheid, just like “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” taught me about people starving in third-world countries (and people who have never heard of Jesus).

    Music can be a mighty weapon.

  4. impatient  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2007 0

    who cares about this video? i want to hear the automatic for the people album, ‘gum! don’t get my hopes up like that and then leave me hanging…

  5. Rina  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2007 0

    The enthusiasm of Bruce’s low five to David Ruffin is contagious

  6. melle mel and little steven were kind of rocking the same look back then, huh. I wonder if mel is all sopranos now too. bono’s “silver & gold” from this tape was the jam.

  7. “‘Band Aid’ (failed to end the same famine, using only British people)”

    I don’t remember if they were in the video for “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” but Kool & The Gang were on the record.

  8. saltchunk  |   Posted on Oct 3rd, 2007 0

    This tune pales in comparison to “Free Nelson Mandela” by Special AKA, but this vid was a relatively rare political tune that got into heavy rotation on MTV. The campaign to stop western artists from performing in Sun City was highly effective. Sun City offered millions for various artists and many accepted in the early 80s. When this campaign popped up, the number of western artists performing there dropped of to a trickle. I believe only Laura Brannigan and Irene Cara played there in 88 and 89. The Commodores (sans Lionel Richie) cancelled a lucrative contract to play Sun City after taking a lot of heat. So, say what you will about this tune – it somehow managed to spearhead an effective boycott and got Joey Ramone some MTV airtime. Na na na na na na – na na na na!

  9. DaJebu  |   Posted on Oct 3rd, 2007 0

    I sorta remember this from back in the day. A girl i was dating at the time even had a t-shirt.

    but i had no idea it was this long! damm..!

    I dig Jackson Brown’s east LA look! lulz!

  10. nol  |   Posted on Oct 3rd, 2007 0

    looks like they filmed daryl hall in a totally different location on a totally different day, right? he’s the only one all alone (for the two brief shots he’s in)

    this video is awesome, but also kind of depressing. all of the artists looked so much younger back then. luckily the rest of us haven’t aged a day since then…

    lou reed and john oates together at last! what a great rock n roll combo. Reed N’ Oates. I want that album.

    ps RIP marvin gaye and joey ramone.

  11. fortune  |   Posted on Oct 3rd, 2007 0

    jesus, is that stiv bators in the choir towards the end?

    that lil steven sure turned out to be the hipster.

  12. C’mon now ‘Gum.. that’s Bono in full “Unforgettable Fire” ’85 mode, with the almost-mullet….

  13. queefersutherland  |   Posted on Oct 5th, 2007 0

    The economic impact of Darryl Hannah’s boycott can not be overstated.

    Five years later, she joined Pete Nice in giving P.W. Botha the gas face.

  14. Kar  |   Posted on Oct 6th, 2007 0

    Even though this this video feels like they forced these guys to be in it or be in traffic court, the star power underwhelms.

    Don’t even think they had Peter Gabriel who’s Biko acted as a catalyst for the project.

  15. Niles Siegel  |   Posted on Apr 24th, 2008 0

    When I was asked by Hart Perry to produce this video it took me about a second to say yes. Everyone, all the artists, Hart, Demme and I, plus the entire crew did this video for free. Many companies like Kodak donated film and equipment. All the artists really put themselves into this and loved the experience. It was a great project to be involved with. We were honored by the UN for it.

  16. robt  |   Posted on Jul 7th, 2008 0

    Not Bret michaels..Michael Monroe from Lords of the new CHurch..but you would have to a smart journalist and not some smug unfunny jerk in his flip flops and a Paul’s Boutique shirt trying to be intelligent and funny and failing

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