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The 10 Best Ska Music Videos That Will Inspire Your Summer Wardrobe and Get You Beat Up By Jocks

Ska music never made an impact in the music video world, since second wave was already dying down as MTV premiered. By the time of the 1990s ska revival, music videos were million-dollar showcases for beautiful people. Indie bands could not compete and most just slapped some show footage on VHS and sent it to “120 Minutes.” But some bands broke through with some creative and entertaining work.

Here are the 10 best ska music videos we could find and hopefully they also give you some style inspiration:

10. Voodoo Glow Skulls “Fat Randy”

For a band that slaps together so many genres and cultural influences, this video has a simple concept. They perform in a wrestling ring “taking on” the monster heel, “Randy El Gordo” interspersed with footage of wrestling moves. Combined with frantic horns, punk vocals, metal riffs, and poppy ska breakdowns, it’s a lot of fun. Hopefully all the wrestlers featured went on to become superstars and avoided CTE, “Dark Side of the Ring” features, and the advances of Vince McMahon.

9. Reel Big Fish “She Has A Girlfriend Now”

Reel Big Fish didn’t invent the Hawaiian shirt, checkerboard Vans, and cargo shorts style of goofy ska rock, they perfected it by going back to three main topics for their silly-ass videos:
1. Covers
2. “You can’t call us sellouts, only we can call ourselves sellouts”
3. “My ex-girlfriend is now ___”
RBF chose the latter bucket, donned 80s costumes, and produced a tribute to John Hughes movie gags and “Revenge of the Nerds” pranks. The lyrics barely manage to be on the right side of history, since this was made in the “Chasing Amy” era where queer people were “tolerated,” but somehow the straights are the victims because lesbians are somehow a threat to their sexuality (See also: “Friends”). “Stranger” still is the song features guest vocals from Monique Powell of Save Ferris, who isn’t in the video, which is awkward for a duet. Couldn’t they have thrown an actress in a Molly Ringwald wig and had her lip sync?

8. Save Ferris “The World Is New”

Imagine an episode of later series X-Files where Scully fronts a ska-pop band that goes on a “The Wizard of Oz”-inspired cyclone ride during band practice and you’ll get both this video and my high school LiveJournal.

7. The Specials “Ghost Town”

Horns are the instruments most closely associated with ska, but the organ is the unsung hero of the genre. Not all bands use them, but it adds depth to the classically shallow art form. The organ sound brings both the sound and visuals of “Ghost Town” to a new level, combining the cliches of film noir, spy movies, and gangster biopics into something new. Guy Ritchie must have seen this video and made it his entire persona.

6. Lily Allen “Smile”

Between Amy Winehouse’s Ska EP and Lily Allen’s debut album “Alright, Still,” there was an attempt at a fourth wave of ska in the mid-2000s. It didn’t happen, but we got an amusing video of the British tabloid bad girl as a scorned lover hiring hooligans to ruin the life of her ex set to a loop of “Free Soul” by Jackie Mitto and The Soul Brothers. It makes you wonder what could come from crate-digging DJs exploring the “Miscellaneous – Ska” bins at the record store…

5. Sublime “Wrong Way”

Sublime took surf and stoner culture and combined it with hip-hop, ska, and punk influences played on an acoustic guitar which still appeals to frat bros to this day. The posthumous video soft pedals the scummy lyrics about the narrator justifying sleeping with a 14-year-old sex worker by using bright color filters, dutch angles, cameos, a plucky trombone solo, and clown makeup into a Bonnie and Clyde-style story starring Bijou Phillips. What elevates this video above Sublime’s other posthumous output? The archival footage of Bradley Nowell projected on billboards and buildings doesn’t look like complete shit.

4. Rancid “Red Hot Moon”

For a band that looks like caricatures of punk henchmen from a Canon Films action movie, Rancid did put out a lot of ska singles, “Red Hot Moon” being their best effort. The video and lyrics tell the story of a young woman named Casey taking an existential bus ride which serves as a metaphor for drugs. But the most notable aspect of the video is the way the director made the CBGBs of the early 2000s look somewhat presentable. I don’t know if it was a set, the lighting crew, or CG over a green screen, but Marvel needs to hire these people.

3. Madness “House of Fun”

For almost 50 years Madness created bouncy ska-influenced pop songs with lyrics about growing up delivered in indefinable Cockney slang. Their videos are like random sketches from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” with references that never made sense to American audiences. The song is about a kid celebrating his 16th birthday by going to the Chemist (Pharmacy) to buy balloons and party hats (condoms), but the Chemist tells him to go to the House of Fun (a party supply shop). Even British people are confused by the Queen’s English, but fortunately, these lyrics are literally depicted for the Colonies to follow. The nutty boys are having a blast wearing costumes, riding amusement park rides, and doing herky-jerky dances, and blimey is it right brilliant.

2. Fishbone “Party At Ground Zero

At some point, society decided the best way to deal with Cold War atomic anxiety was through puppetry and mask work. Combine that with makeup, stock footage, politically charged lyrics, animation, stock footage, costumes, the plot of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of The Red Death,” and the most-high energy band of all time and you have a 4:50-minute long representation of 1985. And in the truest representation of Reagan-era lies and greed, a song about nuclear armageddon lives on in the soundtracks of “Kids make their own rules” movies.

1. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Rascal King”

Between “The Impression That I Get” and Dicky Barrett tanking his legacy by composing anti-vax anthems for RFK, Jr., came this little gem. The video features the band auditioning to play a 1930s-era nightclub for the club’s mobbed-up owner, giving some context to having a band in suits with a full horn section. Combined with an “I think that guy’s been in stuff” character actor playing the owner and the faux-gangster schtick, it’s the perfect encapsulation of this brand of ska. Plus, providing the “Dancing Guy” with a conductor’s baton as a prop gives the most useless person in music some credibility.