A while back I started ranking all of The Cure videos by year. I managed to finish half of their videos before life stepped in and prevented me from finishing it up. Now, I have the pleasure of seeing The Cure live and I’m so excited I started watching all their videos again. This gave me time to reflect on my original ranking and thoughts on these videos when I watched them the first time. Some of my feelings remained the same while my opinion changed on others. As a countdown to The Cure’s June shows, here’s an updated ranking of their videos from 1978 – 1985.
“Close to Me” (1985)
This is one of the finest Cure collaborations with Tim Pope yet and definitely not one for those who suffer from claustrophobia. The clip finds the band trapped in a wardrobe that falls off a cliff and lands in the ocean. The scenario is both funny and terrifying as the wardrobe begins to fill with water. My favorite part is when they use everyday items like a comb and a toy keyboard as make shift instruments. Also, the little dolls Robert Smith dances around with are pretty cool too. The video was so good when they re-released this single in the early 90’s, they did a continuation of it. It’s just such a unique concept for a video, especially during an era filled with arrogance and excess. It’s one of their most imaginative and unique videos to date.
“Inbetween Days” (1985)
This is one of those Cure videos that starts out pretty quirky and silly with cool camera angles and colorful neon socks flying around the screen. But as is standard with the band, it quickly grows creepy when the members sport neon colors on their face that makes it look like they’re a the glow-in-the-dark edition of the band. Smith looks giddy as he skips across the screen and swings the camera back and forth. The bright colors, weird make-up, and of course the socks is what makes this video stand out and gives it iconic status. It’s another whimsical and odd video from long time Cure collaborator Tim Pope.
“The Lovecats” (1983)
This is a silly video to go along with a silly song. This jazzy ode to cats features what else but cats (both live and stuffed). Smith and crew pull off their best cat impressions by sneaking around the set, clawing at the air, and laying around being lazy. The best part is when Smith is sitting on the staircase with a kitten when it twitches and nicks him on the finger. Also, you gotta love his awkward dance when he’s surrounded by a bunch of groovy kitty cats. It’s one of their weirder videos, but also a lot of fun. You can’t help but imitate Smith’s gestures while the clip is playing. Whether or not he was high while filming this we can’t tell, but the answer is most likely yes.
“The Walk” (1983)
This is another weird video from the band. What’s happening here? Who knows. This video is like dreams and nightmares smashed into three minutes. It has magic tricks, scary ass Japanese baby dolls flying through the air, Robert Smith sitting in a wading pool with what appears to be clown make up on, glitter showers, and an old woman signing a portion of the song. You know what, forget about the dream part, this is just a nightmare. Sorry, for the poor video quality.
“Let’s Go to Bed” (1982)
This video marks the beginning of The Cure’s relationship with video director Tim Pope. Like many of the later videos they would make with him, this one is odd, whimsical, and a bit funny. It features Smith and Lol Tolhurst romping around a make shift bedroom that has a broken bunk bed, a Christmas tree, eggs, and. blue apples, which Smith proceeds to break and eat. It also features Lol having what appears to be a seizure passed off as dancing. But Smith has time to break out his own robotic dance moves making him all the more charming. It doesn’t make any damn sense, but it sure is entertaining because it’s so weird and playful. It’s a nice change from the bleak, bland videos that marked the beginning of their career.
“The Caterpillar” (1984)
Really, there isn’t much going on in this video: it features two new members of the band who didn’t return after The Top was released, a dancing Chinese dragon at the beginning, a flickering effect that makes The Cure change their color of clothing, and Robert Smith trying his damnedest to avoid the camera. Seriously, he doesn’t look at the camera even once. I didn’t notice this the first time I saw it. Believe it or not Beavis and Butthead had to point it out to me. I’m surprised I actually learned something from that show. The clip also marks the return of guitarist Porl Thompson, who left the band in 1979. Otherwise, it’s just The Cure hanging out in The Great Conservatory of London with a couple of caterpillars to keep them company.
“The Hanging Garden” (1982)
Before this, Cure videos were boring and only featured a dull band badly miming their instruments, but for this song they decided to actually give a shit. The clip is interesting to say the least. The band performs in a park surrounded by odd statues that keep changing into animals. There’s even a point where Lol wears the skin of the tiger over himself for…reasons. The best part are the horrendous 80’s effects, especially when the stone armadillo “walks” across the screen. But again the band manages to make the video weird when they put on creepy red and white masks. It’s a odd clip that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s still an interesting video. Also, this is the start of Smith’s iconic hairstyle, so at least there’s that.
“10:15 Saturday Night” (1979)
This is The Cure’s first video, so it’s forgivable that it’s not very good. The video does show a fresh looking band just getting started. It’s basically just a performance and features no story whatsoever. Cure fans will appreciate the footage, especially since it features original Cure bassist Michael Dempsey. Plus, you gotta love how Smith is rocking the bowl cut.
“A Forest” (1980)
What saves this video from getting the bottom ranking, is the fact that there are images of what else but a forest in vivid colors in between shots of a bored looking Cure. Smith’s face never changes once during the entire clip. He mimes the song with this dead look in his eyes like he doesn’t want to be there. It also may come as a shock for newer Cure fans to see Smith without his iconic look. Rather than having his infamous back combed hair, he has a short haircut and no make up on. He’s almost unrecognizable. It’s not their greatest video, but the dark mood of the song paired with images of the forest gives this clip an air of mystery and eeriness that’s often found in the band’s songs.
“Other Voices” (1981)
This is another video where not much happens, but at it least finds the band trying their best. It’s also the first time Robert Smith dons his infamous make up look. It has this weird cloudy effect that looks like the entire crew were smoking a bunch of cigarettes five minutes before starting. The effect is really stupid since the video opens with the camera slowly zooming in on the band, yet it looks like its focusing on nothing. You can tell they were going for something creepy, but instead it looks like a fog rolled in. The song may be great the video is too disorienting.
“Charlotte Sometimes” (1981)
This has got to be the cheesiest Cure video ever. The “story” is awful, the shots are lame, and the effects are corny. After watching this it’s clear why most of their videos don’t have a plot. The protagonist runs around an abandoned boarding school having weird visions while members of the band lurk in the shadows. It’s just awful. When you see Smith hunched in the corner hoping no one sees him, you can’t help but laugh. Even Robert Smith hates the video saying when he first saw it he didn’t know whether “to laugh or cry.” It’s so bad it’s painful to watch. It’s just an example of a band trying way too hard to be dark and mysterious. Anyone whose a fan of The Cure’s early work knows they didn’t have to try that hard.
Again, this is a video where nothing happens. The band plays their instruments and sings the song. The only thing that makes it slightly entertaining are a few shots of little girls rummaging through a costume chest. Don’t ask me why they’re there because I don’t know, but it at least gives you something else besides Robert Smith and the crew to look at. And finally we start to see Smith play around with his image as he’s wearing makeup in this clip. Otherwise, the video is really bland.
“Play for Today” (1980)
This has got to be the lamest Cure video ever. Nothing happens. Smith isn’t even wearing make up, so you can’t even look at that. The band doesn’t look like they’re having fun while they’re playing. They make it look like being in band and making music videos are the worst things on the planet. What’s really annoying is how bassist Simon Gallup awkwardly stands near the amp and looks miserable while playing bass. And keyboardist Matthieu Hartley looks like a random guy wandered on set and doesn’t realize he’s in the shot. This is the type of video that someone would upload on Youtube hoping to make it big, only to end up being the butt of the jokes. Thank God Cure videos have progressed since then.
Where did your favorite Cure video end up? How would you rank these? Let me know in the comments! Stay tuned for part two coming next month.