Verlaines “Tremble”

According to Wikipedia, Graeme Downes co-wrote this song with Robert Smith of the Cure. Yeah, I’ll buy that. That song has a great pop sound and does all sorts of clever musical things. But, hey, I’m here for the video.

It’s set in an unusual world, the sort of crazy place that only appears in music videos. A bird cage rotates. A grey-eyed woman gazes at the camera. A tiny figurine of Cinderella and Prince Charming dances around a table top. Ventriloquist’s dummies stare. But being as emerged in the symbol-laden world of music videos as I am, this kind of world feels pretty normal.

But my favourite video star is the elegantly dressed woman who runs into the arms of her sweetie and we discover he has a totally bandaged head. Unable to really look into his eyes, she turns to the camera as if to say, “Yes, I’m going out with a bandage-faced man. We are deeply in love. Are you shocked?”

The woman does a lot of running, either to or away from her mummified lover. She runs into a space with lots of eyes painted on the walls. Surely a cruel prank with her boyfriend’s optical disability.

While all this randomness is happening, the Verlaines are in their their own surreal world. They’re found in a black wasteland, with a dark tree in front of a dark blue sky. It’s all in a studio, which gives the setting even more of a surreal flavour.

It’s a strange experience watching this old video. I’ve previously been immersed in the higher-tech world of the late ’90s, where it started to be possible to make a pretty good looking video on a budget. So compared to that period, this old Verlaines video looks a little cheap and clunky. But then being over 20 years old, perhaps it’s time to appreciate it in a new light. Yah, so retro.

Best bit: the freaky smoking mannequin dude.

Director: Toby Parkinson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… February 1992: getting dangerous.

David Kilgour “You Forget”

I like a video with a storyline, and David Kilgour’s vid for “You Forget” does this nicely. Dave starts out by driving his car to the beach, complete with a hoon across Grafton Bridge back when it had the ugly chainlink anti-suicide fences.

He gets to the beach, hangs out on the shore for a bit, then jumps in the harbour and swims over to Rangitoto. He keeps his sunglasses on in the water because he is cool. The song is about a soured relationship. Perhaps Dave is exiling himself from the devilwoman by running away to a barren island.

On the island, he climbs to the summit, then catches the ferry back to Auckland, while his Chucks change colour several times. This is quite sensible – if you’re going to be mucking around on scoria fields but wearing only a thin-soled pair of sneakers, you’d want to take a spare pair of two along.

This is what happens when you have a cult following – you get to make a simple music video and 20 years later it’s online with happy comments from gleeful fanboys.

Best bit: the camera respectfully panning away when Dave falls over on the scoria field.

Bonus!

In 1992, “You Forget” won the prestigious Most Use of Water in a Video award at the Yahoo Awards – presented by MC OJ and Rhythm Slave, along with show host Moana on the Saturday morning kids TV show Yahoo. Flying Nun label head Roger Shepherd accepted the award.

Director: Stuart Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a video that is just too obscure for we.