Diva-licious: Annie Lennox’s videos from her first solo album, “Diva” (1992), were simply divine

By on August 7, 2019

During our syndication era in the early ’90s, Night Flight set aside a full hour for our “Annie Lennox Video Profile,” which features three simply divine videos — “Why,” “Walking on Broken Glass,” and “Little Bird” — from her 1992 debut solo album, Diva.

Watch this special tribute, which originally aired in 1994, on Night Flight Plus.

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Diva — released on April 28, 1992 — was a professional and personal turning point in Annie Lennox‘s career (she’d taken some time off after leaving Eurythmics in 1990).

It was a huge commercial and critical success, charting at #1 in the UK and #23 in the U.S., winning the “Brit” award for Album Of The Year.

It was also Grammy-nominated in the U.S. for the same award, as well as Lennox being nominated for “Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female.”

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As for calling the album Diva, Annie once said, “It’s quite an arrogant thing to take that name and put on yourself… but I do it with a smile.”

The cover photo was taken in early December of 1991 — she hadn’t yet come up with the album title — by Satoshi Saikusa, a young Japanese artist living in Paris.

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In an interview excerpted in Lucy Ellis’s Annie Lennox: The Biography, Lennox talked about the enjoyable task of making videos:

“I always enjoy the visual bit, making the video. It’s easier than writing the music. That is soul searching. This is fun. I don’t want to sound pretentious… OK, let me sound pretentious. I love bringing visual images out of a song. I don’t use stylists. I create what I think will be suitable… the diva look is new for me, but it seemed to suit the mood of the album.”

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“Why” — from the Sophie Muller-directed video album, Totally Diva — was the album’s first single.

The song, Lennox said, “… is a dialogue and a diatribe and a statement about feeling misunderstood. For me, words are very powerful and one person can misinterpret what the other person’s saying so easily.”

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The video is all about Lennox “becoming” a diva.

We see her sans makeup, in front of a dressing room mirror, curling her eyelashes and applying orange and pink eye shading and penciling in heavy eyebrows.

The transformation is completed with garish red lipstick, heavy jewelry, and a headdress made from brightly-colored feather boas.

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“Why” make it to #5 UK, and it topped out at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video won Muller and Lennox MTV’s Best Female Video award.

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The Sophia Muller-directed video for “Walking On Broken Glass” is a period piece, set in the late Eighteenth Century salon, where everyone is awaiting a newlywed couple.

Muller has said she was inspired by two movies in particular, the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons, and the 1984 Best Picture Oscar-winning Amadeus.

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Actors John Malkovich and Hugh Laurie both appear, the latter dressed like he was when he played “Prince George” in the UK TV series “Blackadder the Third.”

Lennox wears a red Turkish headdress (nearly everyone else is in a powdered wig), repelling the advances of Laurie’s Prince George while throwing herself at Malkovich, the new groom.

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“Walking on Broken Glass” made it to #8 on the UK Singles chart, and #14 on the Hot 100 in the U.S.

Read more about Annie Lennox’s Diva and “Little Bird” below.

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“Little Bird” — the fifth and last single from Diva — was clearly a metaphor for Lennox’s state-of-mind prior to leaving Eurythmics (“They always said that you knew best/But this little bird’s fallen out of the nest” ).

It was inspired by the appearance of a real bird, though, that landed on her windowsill and began singing while she was tracking songs for the album.

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Lennox turned it into a moving tribute to her son Daniel, who was stillborn in 1988, telling the UK’s Telegraph newspaper that his death “…made me realize that the human condition is immensely fragile and strong at the same time.”

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The Muller-directed video was inspired by Bob Fosse’s 1972 film Cabaret.

It’s notable for featuring eight Annie Lennox lookalikes, dressed in the many different personas that Lennox had presented in her videos over the past decade.

We see an “Annie Lennox” from “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart),” “Thorn in My Side,” “Beethoven (I Love to Listen To),” “I Need a Man,” “Why,” “Walking on Broken Glass,” and how she appeared during the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

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At the time of filming, Lennox was pregnant with her daughter Lola (she later gave birth on February 9, 1993).

Lennox: “We held this audition that was probably one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Sophie and I were in the darkness of a theatre, while people queued up to present their version of what they thought could be a potential ‘Annie Lennox’ performance. It was the maddest thing. I was literally curled up in a ball with stifled hysterics on the floor of the theatre.”

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“Little Bird” reached #3 in the UK, and peaked at #49 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, although it did reach #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.

Annie’s Totally Diva won the Grammy for Best Long Form Video (the video didn’t include “Little Bird,” which hadn’t yet been shot).

Watch Night Flight’s ’90s-era “Annie Lennox Video Profile” — featuring eight Eurythmics videos, including “Sweet Dreams,” “Who’s That Girl,” “Missionary Man,” “Sex Crime,” “Would I Lie To You,” “Love is a Stranger,” “Here Comes the Rain,” and “There Must Be an Angel” — and other video profiles on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.