With “Cryin’,” Aerosmith sparked the piercing of a million belly buttons

With “Cryin’,” Aerosmith sparked the piercing of a million belly buttons

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week: songs from 1993.

A lot of really great indie records came out in 1993, but if we’re looking for ’93 songs that made an impact not just personally but also on the lives of millions of other people, I’ve got to go with Aerosmith’s “Cryin’.” The Get A Grip single spawned the video that launched off the “Cryin’”/”Amazing”/”Crazy” trilogy, and really kickstarted the career of alterna-babe Alicia Silverstone.

Silverstone was handpicked by video director Marty Callner for the role, which, over the course of just the “Cryin’” video, finds her groping and grinding with Stephen Dorff, dropkicking some despicable mugger (Lost’s Josh Holloway), getting both a tattoo and a belly button ring—a move that the body modification community credits with making the piercing mainstream—and somehow tricking both Dorff and the L.A.P.D. into thinking she’s going to commit suicide when, in fact, she’s just cheekily bungee jumping off a freeway bridge. (Wouldn’t that cord have irritated her belly button ring? And how did no one notice it? But I digress.)

The video not only launched careers for Silverstone and Dorff, but also jumpstarted the career of Aerosmith, making the group once again a household name. Get A Grip sold 20 million copies worldwide, and “Cryin’” became a one of MTV’s most requested videos of 1993. It would later go on to win Video Of The Year, Viewer’s Choice, and Best Group Video at the 1994 VMAs. “Amazing” and “Crazy” would follow, to similar acclaim.

While the song itself is a little dubious—is Stephen Dorff crying because Alicia Silverstone caught him cheating, or is she crying because men are such pigs?—it’s easily one of Aerosmith’s biggest earworms. Steven Tyler’s wails are epic, and even the video, which has him facing his “Losing My Religion” moment in a church window, puts the band in a new light. Gone is the group’s glam, wiggly era. Get A Grip-era Aerosmith is hip, with the times, and rocking flannel.

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