For the past few months, I’ve been re-watching and re-ranking videos by The Cure to celebrate their upcoming Chicago shows. Now, we’re almost a week away and I can barely contain myself. But before the high pitched sequels and mass fangirling about seeing Robert Smith, it’s time to rank the last batch of Cure videos. Unlike the previous two entries, I have not previously ranked these videos, so this list is completely fresh. While the 80s had some of the band’s best videos, the 90s had some of their most lackluster. While there are some good ones in the mix, most of them are forgettable or just bad. So let’s take a look at the last of The Cure’s videos, until they hopefully release another album.
“Friday I’m in Love” (1992)
One of The Cure’s most successful songs gets the most playful video. In a homage to filmmaker Georges Melies, the band perform in front of various backdrops, including one advertising some of their previous singles and videos. As they sing, performers representing characters from Melies’ films come out and shower the set with confetti, sparklers, and balloons. The Cure get in on it as they put on silly costumes, dance, and have a drink. There’s not much of a plot, rather it’s just the band having a good time on set. Seeing them freeze like statues or Smith trying to keep beat while wearing an awkward mask as a hat is sure to make you chuckle. Sadly, this would be the last time The Cure worked with Tim Pope until 1997.
This clip from the Wish era may make your eyes hurt since it has a washed out overlay. But the rest of the video is a dream, matching the album’s sound perfectly. The band play on a ship in a cloudy sky where images from the lyrics, like “makes me bite my fingers through,” actually play out. Smith then floats above the clouds on a kite, with fellow bandmate Perry is steering. Smith then safely returns to land to finish the song. The video is bright and colorful and it plays like an adventurous dream, the kind you don’t want to wake up from. Like their best videos this one is whimsical and leaves you feeling good.
“The End of the World” (2004)
Directed by Floria Sigimondi, whose done videos for Marilyn Manson and The White Stripes, this is the coolest video of The Cure’s later era. Using a cool, yet eerie stop motion effect, Smith shuffles around his house which is slowly crumbling to the ground. It seems possessed as dishes start breaking, cans spin around, and a doll keeps wandering around the house. When Smith travels outside he finds the other members also roaming around their destroyed houses. In the end, the house goes back to normal and Smith walks in wondering what just happened. The stand out effects and the dreary look of the video gives it an eerie vibe, especially when you see cups with faces on them sliding around on their own. And since it’s something more than just the band performing in front of a background, it has a slight Tim Pope feel, which is nice for longtime fans.
“alt. end” (2004)
Smith seems to be stuck in the recesses of his mind in this video. As Smith falls asleep at the typewriter, we enter what seems like a whimsical world, but actually shows different scenarios ranging from sad (a couple fighting) to horrifying (a woman with her head cut off). Things get more intense and strange as Smith continues wandering through the woods holding his head. It’s kind of weird, but the dark imagery and some of the effects gives it an imaginative look and feel. There’s quite a bit going on it may take you a few views to try to piece together what’s going on, but at least the video tries to be creative.
“Wrong Number” (1997)
Bad acid trip is the only way to describe what’s happening in this video. In their first collaboration with Tim Pope in seven years, this video centers around the bright colors mentioned in the song and slithering creatures, like snakes and worms. Everything else are just random clips spliced together of Smith getting married, joining forces with a witch doctor, and seemingly going crazy and crawling around on the floor. There are even scenes with random scary clowns and weird flying fish creatures with a human face. It’s a fucking mess. From the look in his eyes and the way he sweats, it looks like Smith himself is on some bad trip. It’s wild and weird, but one of their better later videos.
“Cut Here” (2001)
This video is simple, but it’s nicely done and feels appropriate for the somber song. The video uses a panoramic effect to show the band performing and switches to close ups on various members. Nothing else happens, but its sleek look, subtle effects, and simple concept makes it stand out. And since the song is about Smith’s friend Billy Mackenzie, who committed suicide in 1997, the bare bones video allows viewers to take in the lyrics instead of obsessing over the visuals.
“Taking Off” (2004)
One of their more playful videos, this one finds the band about the size of ants playing the song as large animals and butterflies roam around them. Think of it as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids meets The Cure. During the hook, Smith floats into the air closer to the sun only to drop back down and join the other members. The best part are Smith’s gestures as he’s more animated wiggling around and pounding his head to the beat of the song. It’s not their best or most creative video, but it’s pretty cute.
“The 13th” (1996)
Strange video for The Cure’s strangest single. It starts off with a battered and bruised Smith in a hotel bed trying to figure out where he is. He finds he’s in a motel with a smiling woman wearing a wedding dress. She dances and twirls trying to seduce him while he slowly tries to piece together what’s going on. Then it cuts to Smith playing with a Latin band on a Spanish variety show. The video goes back and forth between these two worlds as Smith becomes more and more enamored with the person in white. The clip ends with the person in his room and the woman he was previously singing with fighting. It really doesn’t make any sense. It’s entertaining, but at the same time you ask yourself why are these things happening. As a result it’s one of their most forgettable singles.
“The Only One” (2008)
These are all lumped together because they’re all pretty much the same: black and white performance videos. It’s just the band, miming the song in a studio setting with various close ups of each of the members. Maybe they were exciting when they first came out since it was their first new songs in four years, but now they’re kind of dull, especially to watch back to back. The only thing notable about these clips are the random faces Smith pulls off. It wouldn’t be so bad if the clips were varied, but they’re a carbon copy of each other. Hopefully, their future videos are more exciting.
“A Letter to Elise” (1992)
This is a straightforward performance video. The band mime the song on stage in what looks like sound check, with an occasional blue tint over them. Yeah, it’s pretty dull. Unless you’re a huge fan of this song there’s nothing much to keep you watching til the end. It’s so disappointing the final single from Wish got such a boring video, especially since the previous singles got really memorable clips. It’s no surprise to learn this clip was not directed by Tim Pope, which is a huge reason why it’s so forgettable.
What is even happening in this video? What starts out looking like a standard in concert clip turns into a mess. The video switches between varying footage of the band on stage playing the song and footage of one of the members fixing the bus, one of them sleeping, and Smith sitting with older ladies having tea, which is the most memorable shot from the entire video. Smith tries to have some fun with it by doing his silly dancing and faces, but it doesn’t make the video anymore entertaining. It manages to be yet another forgettable clip from the Wild Mood Swings era.
“Mint Car” (1996)
Robert Smith stumbles around in wacky costumes. That’s the entirety of this video. Smith goes from set to set in different outfits while singing the song. It seems like this clip is trying to capture that same fun, carefree vibe of “Friday, I’m in Love,” but it’s so easy to see through. This one feels forced and too scripted. Smith just looks unsure of himself most of the time. And it’s this video that made me realize how Tim Pope managed to capture all the members in the band. Later directors solely focused on Smith and that’s what happens here. Try to spot the other members. It’s pretty difficult if you ask me. But to top it all off the video ends with a shot of Smith staring into the camera taking off his coat. It wouldn’t be so bizarre if it didn’t look like it was better suited for the Backstreet Boys. Even though it tries really hard, it’s one of their worst videos.
“Just Say Yes” (2001)
Does anyone even remember this song? Another lackluster song gets a dull video. It’s hard to pick what’s more annoying: the unflattering close ups of Robert Smith or the singer Saffron, bouncing with energy not meshing with Smith’s subdued nature. This video is just the band singing the song and occasionally wearing funny costumes. But everything about it seems forced. Smith looks pained as he sings with Saffron and the other members don’t look all that thrilled to be there. This is one of the videos you wish you could forget.
Where did your favorite video end up on the list? How would you rank these videos? Let me know in the comments!