One Great Music Video: “Sledgehammer”

In which I get animated

A literary magazine recently sent me one of the best rejection letters I could hope for. Even if the short story in question didn’t make their cut, they did call the opening sentence ‘a sledgehammer of engagement.’ This was pretty good bad news because 1) I had done something right, and 2) I could topically console myself by watching Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” video for the billionth time.

I think it remains the music video to beat. Well, when the folks at Aardman Animations are on it, what did you expect? (The whole middle section, with the Claymation and stop-motion effects, was engineered by Nick Park—this was still a few years before he created Wallace and Gromit.) It seems to factor significantly into the song’s status as Gabriel’s biggest North American hit and his only US #1–notwithstanding the song’s own merits, and there are many.

To be frank—and this may well reflect the times we live in—I have neither the energy nor the desire to search at length for something novel and compelling to say about this video. I can’t help thinking it would be a fool’s errand anyway; exactly 34 years on, it’s perfectly novel and compelling in its own right. The guy didn’t lie under a glass sheet just to kill sixteen hours. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this is a doctoral dissertation.

So for once I’ll content myself simply by bringing this jewel to your attention, or more likely back to your attention. Let it take you on the most exciting journey you’ve had since you were last allowed to actually go somewhere. Mmmmm, fruit.

Published by Cecilia Gigliotti

Cecilia Gigliotti (she/her) lives in Berlin with a beloved ukulele named Uke Skywalker. She co-hosts and produces the music commentary podcast POD SOUNDS. Her free time goes toward dancing, reading books new and old, drawing cartoons, taking city walks, and devoting too much thought to the foibles of her heroes. Connect with her on Instagram (@c_m_giglio, @ceciliagphotography, @pod_sounds_podcast) and see what else she's up to (

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