I was around in the '80s.
Back then, big fluffy hair and jackets with shoulder pads were all the rage. In the '70s there men wore their hair long, and beards were common. Non-designer jeans, suede jackets, peasant shirts, beads, and any number of upscaled hippy fashions were being worn. The '70s were the ‘Back to Nature’ decade. In the mid-'70s there we saw Punk get its beginnings, but it wasn’t commercial. (Which was rather the point of Punk.) We got Glam and the start of ‘stadium bands’. Kiss had their makeup and costumes. With the '80s we got New Wave. People started discarding the jeans and suede, and dressing up in jackets and ties. Elements of Punk were incorporated into New Wave fashion, but with a ‘successful’ twist instead of the working class one. Men’s hair got shorter and beards started going away. Women’s hair got, as I mentioned, big and fluffy. Music tended to a more electronic sound. Spanish Colonial and log cabins gave way to bright, smooth, clean designs and a lot of neon. We had Nagel. The scene was futuristic.
Serious films were still shot on film. (They still are, but there’s a lot of HD out there now.) Video was still somewhat crude and, while the equipment was enormously expensive, the medium was cheaper and faster. So there were technological and cost considerations to making a music video. But I think a lot of it is just the fashion of the time. Videomakers made their artistic decisions based on that. At the time, many of those videos were just so cool . Look at Men Without Hats Safety Dance. To them, the renaissance faire thing was cool. To much of their audience it was cool. Even then though, many people thought it was lame. Since modern audiences likely were not influenced by living in the '70s, they might not appreciate it. On the other hand, look at Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart. That’s actually a well-made video. I think it holds up pretty well today; and back in 1983, it was awesome.
So I think that the badness comes from the tastes of the audience and the ‘scene’ as it was in the early-'80s as much as any technical limitations. I’m a fan of old movies. In the '30s the equipment was unwieldy, many of the stories were highly contrived, and some of the acting was over the top. But that’s what people liked.