Lionel Richie's "Hello" is the Most Confusing Music Video of All Time

Categories: Previews

All screenshots from the "Hello" music video.
Still life with longing and mustache.

Lionel Richie and CeeLo Green are touring together. At first glance it seems odd, a Dungeon Family affiliate splitting time with someone I always picture wearing a turtleneck.

But here we are -- the tour is real and we must confront the idea enough to decide whether or not to buy a ticket. And actually I think I will; there are just so many grooves involved. Lionel and CeeLo just announced a Dallas date ("date" has never felt more appropriate) -- it's on July 11. Tickets go on sale Friday, February 28 at 10 a.m. via LiveNation. I told our esteemed web editor/weather shouter Gavin Cleaver about this. He laughed and asked me if I'd ever seen the "Hello" video. I have not. So we watched it together:

Gavin Cleaver: I mean, what? Is this some sort of set-up for a 1980s crime movie? Why is Lionel's jacket so pink? WHAT IS IN THAT BOOK?!

Kiernan Maletsky: Why is Lionel sad? Is it because barely anyone signed up for his class on perms?

GC: I feel like he is really upset about the Brooklyn Dodgers, though. I suspect he's not even the lecturer. His jacket is just so outlandish that he commands respect among the students.

KM: Maybe he's Billy Boy's parole officer. Also, some quick math reveals that the time between Eisenhower's presidency and this video is roughly equivalent to the time between this video and now.

If they shot a remake, the line would have to be, "When you went to prison, Lionel Richie was still a sex symbol."

GC: Was he, though? The thought is terrifying.

KM: I think so. The '80s were a different, more shoulder-padded time.


GC: So it turns out this is some sort of improv class, that is conducted by people who absolutely need acting lessons, while Lionel Richie watches them from a piano, pink jacket sleeves rolled up.

At least the keyboard hook has started.

KM: I have nothing to add. This setup could have been accomplished in 10 seconds.

GC: This setup could have been skipped entirely, and I would have had more respect for the video. Imagine your lecturer bursts out into song while you're trying to act?

KM: In this case it feels like mercy.

GC: How better to establish someone is blind than by footage of someone just handing them a white pole? I mean, she's blind, Lionel, not deaf. If you want be all longing about it, you'll probably need to try mime instead.

KM: Also, there's a reason Van Halen didn't write a song called "Hot for Student" and that reason is felonies.

GC: What's your play here, Lionel? I know the '80s were a different time, when pink jackets were acceptable (as was the music of Lionel Richie) but it doesn't look great that you're singing imagined love songs to one of your students. You're meant to be analyzing her acting skills. So she learns. Tuition is expensive.

KM: Not when the class is improv after hours at the local high school. Or, you know, based on the lockers, the bells and the 30-year-old actor in the backward cap, this is actually just high school. Definitely a felony.


GC: So, Lionel's seduction technique becomes clear - hang out in places a blind person wouldn't expect you to be, and stare at them.

KM: I do love this song, though.

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how does he tell that kid she should consider law school?

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