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Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra (1982)

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  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.52
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"Abracadabra" is a song by American rock group Steve Miller Band, written by Steve Miller. The song was released as the first ...

"Abracadabra" is a song by American rock group Steve Miller Band, written by Steve Miller. The song was released as the first single from the 1982 album of the same name the same year.

Music video

The video is one of the most iconic music videos of all time and was shown alongside the birth of MTV. The language of music videos was yet to be created and with the Abracadabra video many aspects of the music video's visual vocabulary, were pioneered in this video, setting a precedent for all videos that followed. The main lyric "Abra, abra cadabra, I'm going to reach out and grab ya" is epitomised by a beautiful, girl with bewitching eyes, sculptured features and flowing hair, Ala sorceress, performed by a then teenage actress/model who with this video, was seen as "the Abracadabra girl" and at the same time became MTV's first "video vixen". With the repeating image of her bewitching stare and hair blowing, she appears to be casting a spell and directing the magical actions within the scenes, perfectly encapsulating the sexy but playful spirit of this ear-wormy pop song.

The two handsome young men who perform alongside the sorceress were professional jugglers and actors. In a series of magical situations, wearing various costumes, the trio perform tricks and illusions. The boys juggle batons, the girl juggles scarves, a handkerchief turns into a dove, stars come out of a hat and other witchery. The Abracadabra girl set a precedent or formula for other video vixens to follow, i.e. the mysteriously beautiful and seductive muse, full of surprises. Another example of repeated imagery, is that of the magician stubbing out the cigarette and that of the sorceress taking the ball from a swirling umbrella: "round and round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows."

The video editing methods, such as repetition of imagery and action, the pop art colourizations and stylised representations were new at the time and have since become part of music video's video language and vocabulary ever since. The actors in the video have chosen to retain their anonymity for reasons of privacy, however all continue to be active in the arts.

Abracadabra is the first music video to use special effects and make use of a "body pan", a camera move which pans across the subjects body in an objectifying way. The video received an MTV award for best effects, considered adventurous at the time.

Another woman who appears briefly in the video, is unraveled from a piece of cloth and does a dance with one of the magicians who is dressed as a harlequin. Next, she suddenly reappears in a sorcerer's cape making a dramatic conjuring gesture with her arms whilst observed by the younger witch, the Abracadabra girl.

Since Steve Miller himself was touring Europe at the time and unavailable for the shoot, he appears in the video only in a series of still shots, wearing sunglasses or a black video strip across his eyes and at times juxtaposed with images of the Abracadabra girl. The actors provided their own wardrobe and props and did their own hair and makeup.

Shot in one day, the video was produced and directed by Peter Cohn and his then wife who co-conceived the basic concept of the video.

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