Eddie Murphy singing was a thing in the ‘80s. And not just a random thing. He released three music albums. While most people remember “Party All The Time,” which was written and produced by Rick James, what is less remembered is that Eddie had music from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Nile Rogers...and even Michael Jackson. It’s like he took music seriously—especially in music video format—even though there was no discernible reason to do so. Hell, Eddie was even signed to Motown for his last album. Let that sink in.
This brings us to the iconic video for Eddie Murphy’s one true hit, “Party All The Time.” This song charted well—it was an actual top 5 pop chart hit and it featured the stylings and production oomph of one of his best friends, Rick James, who was killing it at the time (mid-80s) so it only made sense to keep the buzz going with a video.
This video clearly had one goal and one goal only—to illustrate that Eddie was actually a musical artist. And how do you do that? Well, you do an in-studio video of course where you show him singing and recording with actual musicians like Rick James but you remove all of the cocaine that must have been a staple, which was notably missing—it was the “Cocaine ’80s,” after all—and have Eddie perform and sing while folks kickin’ it in the studio jam along.
Two very fun things to note about this video which I think take it to iconic levels: 1) Eddie really took this music shit seriously, and he had to show us by walking into a room full of happy people with a serious gait because he was a serious musician about to record some serious music. Eddie needed us to know he was for real for real, which means that he didn’t go full Eddie at first. And 2) I cannot stress enough how odd it is that SO many folks were entirely off-beat while dancing in this video, including Rick James and an odd assortment of maybe-famous people clapping, but not on-beat.
The overdub game was trash for this video. Also, Eddie can’t dance for shit.
Rick James is directing traffic from the control room and Eddie is straight business. He even does a few runs just to show his range. What I enjoy most about this video is all of the people in the studio, both the control room and in the booth with him who just know they have a hit on their hands. They are dedicated to letting Eddie know that he is both killing it and that they need to take him seriously. Rick James, not high at all, then goes into the booth to add his guitar section and sing some runs that blow Eddie entirely out the water, instantly. I love it.
Listen, if I wasn’t a singer and I wanted you to take me seriously as one then perhaps I’d create a video that shows me getting busy in the booth as well, complete with folks plugging shit into shit and loading up sessions and all that shit that looks like a real jammy jam is going down. And most importantly, the song jams. It’s like one of the best worst songs ever.
But we have Rick James at the height of his powers, Eddie Murphy coming off of his 48 Hrs., Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop trilogy, so there was literally no better time to drop an album for him. And that all culminates with this video for this song that leads to comedian Eddie Murphy becoming a legend in three games. At least for 1985. And that is iconic.