Jimmy Fallon had fun with some music video lore Friday as The Tonight Show host teamed with Lionel Richie to show the creation of the creepy Richie bust seen in the “Hello” music video. That memorable 1984 video concludes with Richie’s blind love interest sculpting a clay bust of the singer’s face, despite not knowing what he looks like. In the ensuing decades, the ending has been routinely mocked for how little the bust resembles Richie, something Richie himself later noted in an interview with Rolling Stone.
In Fallon’s imagined alternate history of “Hello,” the host paints a picture-perfect portrait of Richie while the offending bust sits on the wooden table, only this time around, the clay model is replaced with Richie’s actual head. The artist and the bust then duet on “Hello,” with Richie singing the chorus while Fallon struggles to contain his laughter on the verses. In the end, it’s revealed that Richie was his horrifying bust from the original “Hello” video all along, but in the artist’s mind, it was a lifelike interpretation.
Richie is well-aware of the video’s lasting notoriety and even expressed concerns at the time about the bust. “I get to the video shoot and there’s this God-awful looking clay model of my head,” Richie told Rolling Stone in May 2014. “I said, ‘Bob [Girardi, the video’s director], this doesn’t look like me.’ He said, ‘OK, we’ll do the scene and we’ll talk about this later, Lionel.’ We get to scene two and I said, ‘Bob, I see the bust here. It doesn’t look like me.’ He says, ‘Scene two, now we’re getting closer.’ It happens again with scene three and then finally we’re getting right to shoot the scene where I discover that she’s done it. I say, ‘Bob, it doesn’t look like me.’ And he looks at me and says, ‘Lionel, she’s blind!’ And I said, ‘OK, I get it.'”