Jazzin for Blue Jean


Score (for Bowie fans): 4.5 out of 5

Score (for Non-Bowies): 3.5 out of 5

Verdict: Great stuff! Well done and lots of fun !

The Non-Movie Video Movie

This thing is only 20 Minutes Long ! We want Bowie! Lots of him ! This isn't enough.
This was a mini-movie intended to promote the song Blue Jean, but it turns out to be way more entertaining as an actual story that leaves you wanting more. More Bowie, more Byron, more everything. It's so cute and has some great, funny stuff in it. It's also annoyingly hard to get. It's only available as an Easter Egg on the Best of Bowie DVD. So for heaven's sake, jump into your outrigger and...

Paddle Upstream NOW!

The Video

Jazzin for Blue Jean isn't quite long enough to get a full review, but we enjoy it and wanted to give it some coverage. It's a product of its time in the way that narrative videos were becoming popular in the mid 80s. Largely thanks to MJ's "Thriller," everybody and his sock puppet started making sophisticated videos that told stories (sometimes very weird ones) and the field was opened to all the interesting music video techniques that would become staple for MTV.
People take that for granted now, but there was a time when nothing happened in videos, and once the thrill of seeing your band semi-live wore off (which took about 45 seconds, if you're interested), they were boring as hell.
Best of Bowie is a fun journey through this transition, from the simple videos of the 70's to the super-entertainment of watching Bowie do stuff, run around and go on adventures, make out with girls, etc. And Blue Jean is awesome for its general content and story; if there's a better way to spend twenty minutes, we can't think of it.

Finding the Egg!

Damn eggs. We don't like these things. Whatever's on the disk should just be on there, not as some secret thing that you have to research to find. It's annoying. Especially when the Egg is one of the best things on the whole disk, it's like why don't they want to promote it? However, as eggs go, this one isn't too irritating. Even we were able to find it, and we're total stupidheads when it comes to eggs.

1. Insert Disk #1
Best of Bowie is Two Disks - like four hours of delightful Bowieness! Blue Jean is on Disk 1.

2. Go to Tracklisting, Track #25
Track 25 is Blue Jean. (On this one, the egg is hiding right next to the chicken.)

3. Press *Right Arrow*, then Enter
A highlighted Parenthesis ) will appear to the right of Blue Jean. Press enter to select it. This will cause one of the Bowie pictures on the right to change.

4. Press *Right Arrow* and Enter Again
Right arrow will move you to the new Bowie picture, and Enter will select it. You should get Julien Temple's "Jazzin for Blue Jean."

Eating the Egg!

This is the story of Vic, a regular dude who has a crush on a girl. This poor guy is a loser and the girl already has much better guys lining up for her. She also has a crush on Lord Byron, a rock star who's playing a gig in town within the next week. Vic has nothing real to offer this girl, so he pretends to be friends with Lord Byron and makes arrangements for the girl to meet him. This is pretty ridiculous, going out of his way to introduce her to someone who is much better and that he already knows she has a crush on, but Vic is dumb.
This girl has no interest in him at all and even seems to use him to get to Lord Byron. But it's not clear if she's deliberately a bitch or just going along for the ride, cuz she never actually leads him on or lies to him. Then again, she doesn't need to, because Vic is already delusional; he seems to think the relationship has a future. All of this fun stuff is just padding for the actual music video, which Lord Byron performs.

Blue Jean is a good song. We love it, though it's not considered one of Bowie's best. For most people, it's like a solid, middle-of-the-road Bowie tune, and this mini-movie is so charming that it overshadows it.
Bowie plays two roles and is SO AMAZING (and irresistibly cute).


Bowie #1 is Vic, a terminally dorky single guy. He means well, but he's all heart and NO STYLE. He shares an apartment with "Spencer," a slick, professional dude, obviously his opposite. (It was 1984. Comically-mismatched roommates were required by law.)
Vic is working as a billboard hanger when Blue Jean walks by, and he actually thinks he has a chance with her. Hard to know why, as his history with girls must be terrible and he shouldn't have any confidence. Maybe he's one of those guys who just never learn, because he does make the move that puts this story in motion.

Screamin Lord Byron

Bowie #2 is Byron, a famous rock star who has it all and is totally smooth. Byron is an exaggerated version of Bowie's Star Persona from the 70's, what with the entourage, the flamboyant stage character, and the excessive, oversexed lifestyle. Even the name (Byron = Bowie) and the "Screaming Lord" (Lord = Duke) suggest the loud grandeur and status that Bowie has enjoyed in his career. And like Bowie, Byron is just a guy living it up. Not an asshole. He's just a good-looking, drugged-up stud enjoying the perqs of fame, unaware (or uncaring) that he's spiraling out of control.
Byron doesn't mean to dust Vic, but of course he takes Blue Jean when the opportunity is there, and of course she goes with him.

Blue Jean / "Dream"

We never find out who she really is. She's referred to as "Dream" girl, but even Vic doesn't ask for her real name! And she doesn't even wear jeans. Vic just thinks she looks like the kind of girl you'd see in a jeans ad.
Blue Jean is very cute and very 80s. She has that adorable, impish face that was requisite in the 80s because they didn't sell girls on T&A back then. (Dream's wardrobe is way modest, typical of the period.) But she has no personality and the script only gives her like four lines. She turns out to be exactly what she is all along: a tease for Vic and a one-shot for Lord Byron.

The Bowie

David is an awesome comedic actor and such a good sport about playing opposite a funhouse reflection of himself. He even jabs at Byron ("Your record sleeves are better than your songs!") and gives such a great performance that you totally forget that you're watching The Bowie. He sells both of these characters with such conviction, almost disturbingly so. He's so relaxed as Vic and looks nothing like himself. His mind seems totally empty as he jabbers away under his floppy hair, bumbling in his messy apartment and his stupid life, never right but never in doubt. Then suddenly he's Byron, the world is at his command, and he's full of this inner stillness, total ego that's just as comfortable. He's focused and professional; even his voice is different, deeper and more like Bowie's, while Vic's is high and aimless.
How does Bowie do this? And why the hell didn't he get more (and better) film roles??

(Much as we enjoy Blue Jean, it's just one more valid opportunity to bitch about why Bowie never got the chance to be a proper film star.)

No one in "Blue Jean" ever notices or comments on how Vic and Byron look similar. This was a missed opportunity for a joke (especially when Vic claims to be related to him), but it's amazing how different he looks as Byron. Mr. Screaming's stage identity is a Golden-era Sinbad/Valentino sheik-type, including full makeup that disguises him.
But David actually plays Three Guys in this thing. At the end, Lord Byron has ditched his stage persona and appears as "Himself." Out of makeup, he is incredibly handsome and dapper in a long, Victorian buccaneer's coat, and we glimpse Bowie for the first time. Or at least, some aspect of him. With his composure, steely expression, and spiked hair, he's one commercialized fragment of David that we've seen before.

Jazzin for Blue Jean is such a quirky and funny video, but it's even more a highlighting of Bowie's acting prowess and the many, compelling shades of his personality. Aspects of Real Bowie may be in here somewhere, this mosaic of Vic, Screamin Lord Byron, and Regular Byron. But as always, David only drops hints; he keeps his secrets and leaves us with hunky, funky entertainment.

Save The Date !

At 11:57 ... Bowie appears to bang his foot pretty hard on the downspout.
This might be a stunt, we're not sure, but Bowie the trooper does make the initial climb up the building!

Also ... Vic loses his shoe here and apparently never recovers it, so he's one-shoed for the entire concert. This is the same loose shoe that fell off earlier when he was going down the stairs.

At 12:40 ... Vic crashes through the ceiling and lands on the elaborate fruit table in Byron's room. This may be a comment on Bowie, as his bands' dressing rooms sometimes had fruit bowls in them.

Scoring and Critique

This is a charming little outing. We give it 4.5 out of 5 for the Bowies! It only misses a perfect score for a couple things. We think it needed:

Less Bouncer, More Byron

We would have shortened Vic's dialog with the Bouncer (and cut the second exchange (7:29 - 8:04) completely) and used that time to flesh out the arrival of Lord Byron and Vic's meeting with him. Byron is carried in and they have to get him ready for the show, and then Vic gets to talk to him; this is the most interesting stuff, but they only spend a couple seconds on it. It's not even clear whether Byron has OD'd and they resuscitate him, or if he's crashed and needs to be doped, but he comes back too quickly. They should have had to work harder putting him back together.
Also they never showed Vic on the roof or explained how he managed to fall through it and the ceiling (?). It just kinda happens. This is all too fast, considering how much time is spent on Vic negotiating the Bouncer.


Both of these guys are jazzin for Blue Jean, so shouldn't at least one of them get to kiss her? We think Byron should have done it right in front of Vic, maybe while the two of them were walking away. As an insult on top of injury thing, heh. Poor Vic.

This Concludes Jazzin for Blue Jean !

Wanna read more reviews for Bowie videos?

You should go to The Best of Bowie!

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