My Favorite Music Videos, Part Twelve: Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’

Today’s offering in the “My Favorite Music Videos” series is a record nine-time MTV Video Award winner and, as of 2011, the most played video in that network’s history– Peter Gabriel‘s 1986 hit “Sledgehammer.”

The song from which the music video originates is Gabriel’s only number-one hit in the US to date. According to Wikipedia, it was also one of the first singles released on compact disc (CD).

Wikipedia tells us that “Sledgehammer” was directed by Stephen R. Johnson and produced by Adam Whitaker. Also:

Aardman Animations (of Wallace and Gromit fame) and the Brothers Quay provided claymationpixilation, and stop motion animation that gave life to images in the song. The video ended with a large group of extras jerkily rotating around Gabriel, among them: Gabriel’s daughters Anna and Melanie, the animators themselves, and director Stephen Johnson’s girlfriend. Also included were six women who posed as the back-up singers of the song. Gabriel lay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming the video one frame at a time. Notably, two oven-ready chickens, headless and featherless, were animated using stop-motion and shown dancing along to the synthesized flute solo in the middle of the song. This section was animated by Nick Park of Aardman Animations who was refining his work in plasticine animation at the time. The style was later used again in the video for another successful single from the album So, “Big Time.”

The song’s music video has won a number of awards, including a record nine MTV Awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, and Best British Video at the 1987 Brit Awards. Gabriel was also nominated for three Grammy AwardsBest Male Rock Vocal PerformanceSong of the Year, and Record of the Year.

In 2011 an HD version of the video was released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of “So,” the CD that featured the song.

(Click here if the video fails to load and/or play.)

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