“No Anchorman, no Wes Anderson, and no Lonely Island if Sabotage did not exist”: New Vevo Footnotes version of Beasties Boys' landmark vid unleashed

The Beastie Boys Sabotage video logo
(Image credit: Youtube/Beastie Boys)

The Beastie Boys have shared a new annotated version of their stone-cold classic Sabotage promo clip.

The vid is part of Vevo’s Footnotes series and throws up a whole load of hirtherto-unknown secrets about the classic clip, in which the band and director Spike Jonze pay homage to the cop shows of the 1970s

Beastie Boys - The Making of 'Sabotage' (Vevo Footnotes) - YouTube Beastie Boys - The Making of 'Sabotage' (Vevo Footnotes) - YouTube
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The concept is credited to Ad Rock (Adam Horovitz) who had long harboured an idea for a video where the band dressed up as undercover cops during a stakeout. When Jonze arrived at a photoshoot one time wearing a wig and fake moustache, the trio decided it was time to act on Ad Rock’s idea.

It also reveals that true to their independent roots, the band had felt awkward on a big set with a large budget. So they asked Jonze to work with a crew small enough to fit into a single van, meaning that they wouldn’t have to obtain permits to film around LA.

As for the song itself, there was apparently an earlier version that featured a Queen Latifah sample as the main hook. The title came from a band in-joke that Beasties’ producer Mario Caldato Jr was always trying to sabotage the band because he was invariably frustrated by their general indecision when it came to finishing tracks.

The original clip remains one of the landmarks of the video artform. Spoofing shows like Starsky And Hutch and Hawaii 5-0, no 1970s cliché goes untouched, from cars careering down sidestreets full of rubbish to cops rushing down fire escapes. 

The Vevo Sidenotes version contains an astute quote from actress and comedian Amy Poehler, noting that there would be “no Anchorman, no Wes Anderson, and no Lonely Island if Sabotage did not exist.”

Beastie Boys - Sure Shot - YouTube Beastie Boys - Sure Shot - YouTube
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The video was the making of Jonze who has gone on to enjoy a typically esoteric career in Hollywood, directing Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Her. And the Beastie Boys didn’t do too badly out of it either. 

It was the lead single for their fourth album Ill Communication, which returned them to the top of the US charts and eventually went three times platinum in their homeland.

Ill Communication turned 30 last month and the band recently announced a special anniversary reissue of the album. This includes a new cassette version and a three LP box set, with an extra disc of remixes, bonus tracks and rarities. Pre-orders are available via the band’s own website.

Will Simpson
News and features writer

Will Simpson is a freelance music expert whose work has appeared in Classic Rock, Classic Pop, Guitarist and Total Guitar magazine. He is the author of 'Freedom Through Football: Inside Britain's Most Intrepid Sports Club' and his second book 'An American Cricket Odyssey' is due out in 2025