Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SOUND & VISION

Who Was That Masked Musician?

June 18, 1995|Chris Willman | Chris Willman's Sound & Vision appears occasionally in Calendar

If the Batman mythos has any overarching theme, it's that everyone has a dual identity.

Bono has made more hay than most out of that dichotomy with his larger-than-life Fly and MacPhisto personas, taken to their most obvious, cartoonish extremes in the animated video for U2's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me." The clip even gives this Irishman of a formerly singular earnestness what's known in the comics trade as a "creation story" for his supervillainous alter ego.

Others play with personality schisms more subtly. Polly Jean Harvey, whose seductive nightclub-singer persona of recent adoption would seem completely at odds with her take-no-prisoners music, uses her "Down by the Water" video to play with the same ironic juxtapositions of kitschy seductiveness and murderous danger as "Blue Velvet" but without David Lynch's hints of levity to offset the disturbance.

Costume changes are big all around this month. There's Madonna back in bondage gear (and her little dog too!), Jill Sobule trying on flip wigs and lesbianism for size and even Bryan Adams putting on a mask. Just about everybody's a Riddler in this edition of Sound & Vision, in which current pop music videos are rated on a 0-100 scale.

*

PJ Harvey, "Down by the Water." The brooding song itself is Harvey's post-punk variation on the perennial country-blues death ballad--all raw, primordial jealousy, revenge and guilt. The even creepier video, though, offers up Harvey's strangely contradictory current persona of silk dresses, bright red lipstick, flagrant curls and the smooth moves of a chanteuse. Ironic? Sure, but Harvey is a little too smart and a little too elliptical just to play the nightclub singer for parody's sake; her made-up thrush is a far spookier affectation than Bono's unctuous devils.

She's cipher enough that you can read into this queer juxtaposition what you want, but when Harvey and her red dress go a-drowning at video's end--sending up a watery halo--her fatal baptism doesn't seem intended as a death to the show-biz mannerisms she might seem to be spoofing but something far deeper in herself that, maybe, just wants to be loved.

84

*

Jill Sobule, "I Kissed a Girl." We've all heard of "lipstick lesbians," but are we ready for Mary Kay Cosmetics lesbians? Sobule brings the taboo to the 'burbs in "Kissed," a cutesy take on a homoerotic crush that includes affections furtively exchanged at a Tupperware party.

The art direction is straight outta "Pee-wee's Playhouse," with bright, kitschy colors splashed onto a '60s fantasy suburbia where Sobule and her next-door gal pal discover amour across the rose garden. (The biggest gag is that Sobule's ostensible boyfriend is Fabio himself, whose hunkiness proves no match for the lure of mutual feminization.) Girls just wanna have fun--with each other--is the slightly disingenuous tone for this tale of a sexual lark, which is ineffably catchy but also wants a little too badly to be subversive and darling.

63

*

U2, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me." The cartoon segments give Bono a back story, like any proper DC Comics villain. Beleaguered by press people who despise his sincerity ("So righteous. So what," read the subtitles), Bono falls off a roof but is saved by his sunglasses, which turn him into the Fly and give him magical, self-protective powers. Later, the "nice" '80s Bono is reading "The Screwtape Letters" when hit by a Cadillac driven by a cadaverous Elvis. Strapped to an operating table and given a few jolts, he emerges as MacPhisto, the demon U2 fans love to hate.

More of this cartoonish downsizing would have been fun. But unfortunately--because the video was completed in a mere three weeks, or just because it is part of the "Batman" promotion juggernaut--ubiquitous movie clips vastly outweigh the actual animation scattered throughout.

56

*

Madonna, "Human Nature." She's back in S&M territory again, but director Jean-Baptiste Mondino has shot Madonna's latest in a process that gives her and her dancers--all clad in leather--slightly surreal, extremely jerky, almost insect-like movements. This technique makes the naughty-poo crew seem deliberately mechanical and distinctly unsexy at times; when the video opens with the dancers slowly parting Miss Erotica's legs, it takes place with all the extended laboriousness of a drawbridge being lowered. Mondino's filmmaking is interesting, although, at this late date, Madonna with a riding crop isn't.

51

*

Bon Jovi, "This Ain't a Love Song." These boys have developed a real social-consciousness jones. Band footage is intercut with the sober narrative of a middle-aged war veteran returning to--could it be? Yes!--Vietnam, in search of the Asian miss he left behind after a one-skirmish stand. The chances of finding her look dim, but almost faster than you can say "Miss Saigon," he's waking up after a fistfight in a house of ill repute, only to gaze upon. . . . Well, we don't want to give the surprise away. The whorer, the whorer.

25

*

Bryan Adams, "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." Director-photog Anton Corbijn is really slumming with this one. In keeping with the motion picture being promoted--"Don Juan DeMarco," was it?--most everyone dons a Lone Ranger mask, flamenco-affecting musicians and voluptuously pushed-up Latina barmaids alike.

You won't see any sillier shot in a video this year than when Adams first marches into the south-of-the-border watering hole with his bangs flopping over his bandito get-up, looking all of 9 or 10. That we next see a point-of-view shot of the local babes through his peepholes is just a comedy bonus.

23

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|