In Living Color was a comedy staple in the early 90s. It’s also a show that my mom forbade me from watching– the only show she ever wouldn’t let me watch. I still watched it, quietly in the basement or in my bedroom. Or at a friend’s house.
In any case, while I loved In Living Color as a kid and did my best to sneak around to watch most of it, it’s a show I’ve never revisited. Going through these music videos, however, made me realize what an impression the show left on me. Especially when I hear the original versions of the songs and the In Living Color parodies play in my head.
The music video parodies were left off of the DVD releases (you know the drill– music rights and all), but thanks to the magic of YouTube, we can still enjoy these Musical Moments from In Living Color.
13 – Vanilla Ice – “White White Baby”
Arguably, this might be the video most people remember best from In Living Color. It has everything: the whitest white guy, straight up shtick, and a jacket Ice’s grandmother gave him.
12 – Michael Jackson – “Am I Black or White?”
Oh boy. In Living Color really gave it to Michael Jackson, two music videos and even an entire episode dedicated to his tabloid foibles. Although, it was the early 90s and Jackson was a heavy target.
Joking aside, every time I hear “Black or White” I hear: “I’m still a virgin and I’m 33, even Madonna won’t have sex with me”.
The ending is brilliant, and sadly still so relevant in today’s world.
11 – Michael Jackson – “Little Billy’s Not My Lover”
In Living Color turns it up again with another Jackson parody. My cousin played the original at her wedding and I had to leave the dance floor so I wouldn’t belt out, “He’s just a kid that claims that I touched his buns. But I swear I didn’t get none”.
It was the last family event I was invited to.
10 – “Career Aid”
“We Are The World” parodies are great, but anything that features Hall & Oates in the back gets extra points from me. This clusterfuck makes me feel a little sad for Yoko, but what can you do. And hey, what’s with Jamie Fox not playing Ray Charles?
9 – Michael Bolton – “When a Man Needs a Big Hit”
I never thought much of this parody when it was on, but now I do. Let’s unpack this a little, shall we?
In Living Color calls out Michael Bolton for covering Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman”. Covering songs isn’t a crime, but I’m slightly amused.
Years later, Michael Bolton threatens to hit Conan O’Brien with a softball, triggered by Conan’s many jokes about Bolton. Suddenly, I’m more appreciative of anything poking fun at Bolton.
Carrey does an excellent job at looking like a creeper and mimicking said creeper’s voice.
8 – Crystal Waters – “My Songs Are Mindless”
As you may or may not know, I’m a huge 90s dance mix fan. So, when I hear a parody of Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)”, I’m totally on board.
Kim Wayans does an amazing impression, both in look and sound. Also hilarious: cable having 100 channels (which even then was an exaggeration) was considered a lot of channels.
In revisiting this video, I learned why I sing “Yabba-Dabba-Doo-Yabba-Dabba-Dee” when I hear “Gypsy Woman”. Mystery solved.
7 – Bill Clinton – “Humpin’ Around”
Oh Bill Clinton, you lovable scamp.
Whenever I hear Bobby Brown’s “Humpin’ Around” (it happens more than you think), I can’t get the image of Bill Clinton out of my head. And at least it isn’t some weird untapped fetish. It’s just an In Living Color music video. Phew.
6 – Whitney Houston – “Rhythmless Nation”
Fun fact: when I hear Downtown Julie Brown (again, way more often than you think, I have Satellite Radio in the car), I don’t actually picture Ms. Brown. I picture Kim Fields’ impression of her. Which, you know, may not be that far off.
The shtick for “Rhythmless Nation” is pretty amusing. Kim Wayans nails it with her awkward dancing skills.
5 – Trail Mix-a-Lot – “Baby’s Got Snacks”
This video could have begun with the actual song, but In Living Color doesn’t fool around and starts with the obnoxious white Valley girls. This video had to tide us over while the original was banned by MTV. You could watch this on antenna TV, as long as my mom wasn’t around.
4 – Shabba Ranks – “Mr. Ugly Man”
Okay, it’s a mean-spirited one, but I dare you to keep a straight face while Marlon Wayans yells “SHABBA!”
3 – Snow – “Impostor”
I was always captivated by Snow’s fast rapping, especially during an era where slow rap was more the norm comercially. The bit with the auctioneer inspiration explains everything. Sometimes I sing “Would you, would you, would you like fries with that? A hot apple pie with that?” and forgot this is where I picked it up.
Snow is still around. And possibly working in fast food.
2 – M.C. Hammer – “Can’t Touch This”
Hammer getting caught in his parachute pants is pretty spectacular, yet throughout the whole ordeal the Fly Girls don’t miss a step. Fucking professionals.
1 – Hag Team – “Droop! There It Is”
I mentioned at the beginning of the article that I had a television in my bedroom. Whether this was an A+ parenting move is up for debate, but it did lead me to tape a lot of things off the TV onto cassette before I got a VCR of my very own.
I loved recording TV theme songs, but for some reason had the forethought to record this parody of Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)”. Never being one to sleep at night, I’d listen to these cassettes on my Walkman and memorized this one. It has never come in handy once in my life, but it’s something that brings me great joy.