Sunday, December 12, 2010

Backup Dancers From Hell: J Geils Band - “Centerfold”

We start off with a quick shot of lead singer Peter Wolf high-tailing it down an otherwise-deserted high school hallway. He’s way too old to be up in such a place, so he’s probably running from the police after some type of incident involving the proffering of candy or a startling request to a Girl Scout.

Then we see the rest of the band, and I believe they are supposed to be performing, but it’s really hard to tell what they are doing with all the jump-cutting, uncontrolled hairstyles and generally unattractive people. Peter marches into one of the classrooms, and immediately goes into a dance routine that no one else would ever attempt or even want to do so.

Brief shots of all the band members actually playing now, as opposed to whatever they were doing a few moments ago, and then Peter starts singing. He cavorts around the room, sitting in a chair for exactly 1.5 seconds and then bouncing some more. (That boy has had too much caffeine.) Peter then peruses a magazine for 2.7 seconds, then throws it into the air with far more flourish than necessary.

The setting free of the periodical causes a bevy of mid-twenties women to come parading into the room, acting like they’re high school students but succeeding about as well as Stockard Channing did in “Grease”. Their attire consists only of slips, silky bras and Mary Jane shoes, because that happens all the time in high school. They insist on doing this very annoying line dance where they take a step while staring forward, then take another step while leaning way over to one side. Rinse and repeat. Wow. Somebody actually sat down and thought “wouldn’t it be cool if…”

Oh look, now all the girls are properly dressed, sitting in a classroom and passing notes. Peter comes tromping in, doing more of his awkward dance movements. (We get a quick close-up of the outright fear in one of the co-ed’s eyes.) Peter jumps on one of the desks so we can see his fancy golden shoes, then he follows one of the girls out of the classroom. I seriously doubt that he just wants to help her with her algebra homework.

More annoying choreography, with the girls attempting to do some jazz hands while wearing pink sweaters. That completely doesn’t work, so they switch to the girls wearing nighties and straddling the desk tops like hookers in detention after school. Then they do another line dance which mostly involves waving their arms about and smiling at where they think the camera might be. (Oh, and there’s a nifty thumb-out hitchhiker move that they must have practiced really hard on, but still can’t manage to do it in synch.)

I do have to say that the chorus girls do much better with the next bit, because it involves bouncing in place and playing patty cake with their slumber party neighbors. Peter jumps on the teacher’s desk so he can clap and show his approval. (Wait, is that Faye Dunaway in the shadows behind him, wielding a ruler and wearing a nun’s habit?)

Then we have some mess where Peter plays fashion stylist and selects new outfits for the girls to wear. This is followed by Peter drawing a primitive car on the chalkboard, and then a short sequence where people are checking into a sleazy motel. We don’t see any faces, but there’s the unmistakable aroma of sex and candy.

We’re back in one of the classrooms, where Peter does a squat-tag dance on yet another desk, then he jiggles his way to a different part of the room where the girls are wearing only white sweaters and doing that soul-killing line dance of step, lean pointlessly, step again. The girls are all really proud of their footwork, and it saddens me a little that this was probably the pinnacle of all of their careers.

The girls join Peter for a rousing part of the chorus (probably because it only has one word, “nah”, repeated endlessly, and everybody assumed the girls could handle it.) Then they all take their schoolbooks and pile them on top of Peter. Because that makes perfect sense, right?

Brief shot of drumsticks hitting a drum, which turns out to be filled with milk. No idea.

Now we’re apparently at the prom, or at least a dance of some kind. The girls are wearing just sweaters, naturally, but somebody has put a “C” on all the sweaters so at least the girls can feel like they’re a part of something special. They’ve also been given pom-pom’s, which may not be the smartest move. The girls then bounce all over the room while the band plays, happily shaking everything they’ve got, natural or not.

We end back in the hallway where we started, only now it’s crowded with extras trying to appear ten years younger than they really are. Once more, Peter runs down the hallway, but this time all the co-ed’s turn cartwheels as he zips by, so we can see that they are all wearing skimpy panties and that they have absolutely no shame in their game.

Wonder how many people are going to be on Welfare at that class reunion?


Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

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