Are you ready for a clip that will catapult you back to the early 1980s? One saturated with the style and the attitude that made MTV an irresistible force? A video that leads with provocation, tight clothing, and copious amounts of neon? John Roberts has a video like that for you – a synth-driven, funked-out, new wave celebration of sexuality, steeped in the iconography of the day-glo decade.
Though Roberts’s name might not be familiar to you, there’s a pretty good chance you’re familiar with him. He voices the character of Linda Belcher, the enthusiastic, gently hedonistic, reliably hilarious wife of the title character on the long-running FOX animated series Bob’s Burgers. Roberts has been nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on the show, and his expressive performances have made Linda one of the best-loved cartoon characters on television. Roberts is a musician and a songwriter as well as an actor, and in his songs, recordings, and notorious shows at Joe’s Pub in New York City, he never fails to foreground his love of ’80s pop, punk and new wave. And the new wave loves him right back: he’s collaborated with Blondie, singing with Debbie Harry on “Love Level,” a cut from the band’s 2017 set Pollinator.
Everything John Roberts does displays his distinctive wit and lightheartedness, and that includes the music he makes. However, his dance-pop is more than just a comedy project. “Looking” is deliciously over-the-top, true – but that’s precisely what makes it a natural fit for any club playlist. “Looking” sashays along on an oscillating synthesizer bass and machine beat decorated with clattering cowbell, but it doesn’t catch fire until Roberts starts to croon, whisper, and plead. By the time the chorus hits, Roberts has made his lascivious intentions clear: he’s on the hunt for excitement, and nothing tame will do.
Director Ned Stresen-Reuter understands the exact aesthetic Roberts is attempting to capture, and he decorates the “Looking” clip with vintage video effects, fluorescent lights, and even a few Upstairs At Eric’ s-style mannequins with illuminated headgear. Every detail is right on the money and period-specific – Roberts’s wraparound shades, his push-button telephone, his dance steps, even the patches on the singer’s studded leather jacket. We’ll go so far to say that if we didn’t know better, we’d assume that this clip, and this song, had been unearthed from a reel shot in 1982. Gary Numan would be proud; the Eurythmics, too.
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