12 Creepy Moments from Non-horror Videos

Ever since the music video was born, there have been artists making clips that set out to get under your skin. These videos are often creepy, disturbing, and sometimes down right scary. But then there’s that group of videos that start out tame, making you think you’re in the safe zone. Out nowhere there’s one image or scene where things take an ugly turn whether it’d be scary or chilling. These videos aren’t horrific, but there’s one instance where things get batshit crazy. Here are 12 seemingly safe videos with creepy moments. Not all of the scenes are scary, but they’re weird, unsettling, or just unexpected.

12. “Heart & Soul” – Huey Lewis and the News

This Huey Lewis video starts out like any other from the 80s; in a club with ridiculous fashion choices. Lewis strides in talking about a woman who has caught his attention, along with the attention of everyone else in the club. Everyone’s dancing, Lewis is singing, and then without warning there’s a shot of a vampire waiter. No explanation. He makes an appearance and is gone again. He makes another brief return near the end when he’s sucking blood out of one of his victims. Okay, so the vampire isn’t scary, more like baffling. What was the point of having him there? It just doesn’t make any sense. It feels so random in this seemingly generic video.

11. “Rockit” – Herbie Hancock

There’s a lot going on that’s unsettling in this video, but I never considered any of it as intentional. It more seemed like one of those 80s videos taking advantage of new technology. Watching it again, there are a lot of scarring images from this video: disembodied legs walking around, faceless robots making jerky movements, and a weird bird snapping at the window. But the thing that’s worse than all of these are the mechanical bots with weird, fleshy like skin over their faces. They don’t do much in the video aside from slowly rotating their heads. It’s like they’re trying to disguise themselves as human and it’s disturbing. When that’s the most horrific thing in a weird video featuring creepy robots, you know something is wrong.

10. “Sweet Dream (Are Made of This)” – Eurythmics

This video already has some weird stuff going on, but the concept seems simple: Annie Lennox looks like a dictator as she points to a screen where a missile heads toward the earth. It seems as normal as a Eurythmics video could be until midway through. Lennox and Stewart appear in weird costumes and masks “playing” a cello outside and being generally creepy. Out of nowhere comes a close up of a cow, a cow that roams around for the rest of the video. The clip ends with them in a cow pasture for some reason. It may not be scary, but there’s something creepy and unexpected of seeing a cow close up wandering aimlessly. There’s something unsettling and weird about it, especially in a video that’s already strange.

9. “InBetween Days” – The Cure

Oh look, it’s The Cure being kind of goofing and actually looking happy. They all look like they’re having a good time with the upbeat music and – what the fuck is that?! With some clever glow in the dark make-up The Cure turns this lighthearted video into a nightmare. As Robert Smith is singing the second verse, his image is slowly replaced with another image of him in eerie green and blue make up. What we’re left with is a monstrous looking version of the singer. It’s so simple, but it’s made all the more terrifying with his head movements and his glowing red eyes. Then the video returns to normal as if nothing happened, making you question if it really happened. The Cure pulled a similar move in their video for “Boys Don’t Cry.” You gotta love a band that wants to creep out their fans.

8. “Oh Father” – Madonna

This beautiful black and white video is semi-autobiographical for the singer. It follows a little girl dealing with the death of her mother, while surviving her father’s rage. It’s somber as Madonna walks through a snowy cemetery and the little girl is constantly yelled at by her father. But the image that has stayed in my mind since I first saw the video at the tender age of 6 is the little girl’s mother in the coffin. When she steps up to give her a kiss, she see’s her mother’s lips sewn together. The image isn’t gruesome in any way, but it’s unsettling especially for someone who didn’t understand death or funerals. Madonna provided another unsettling image in her “Bedtime Story” video where she has mouths for eyes. Thanks for the nightmares, Madonna.

7. “Land of Confusion” – Genesis

Do I really need to explain what makes this one terrifying? The fucking puppets. It’s supposed to be a parody of current events of the 80’s along with the hot celebrities, but they all look like the result of an experiment gone horribly wrong. The keyboard player looks like a dehydrated Mick Jagger and Phil Collins looks like a giant potato. Everything about the video is horrible from how the puppets move to a scene where Puppet Regan drowns in his bed. The result is even worse when they put puppet heads on human bodies. And the scene with Regan slowly emerging from the water is nightmare material. I guess Genesis wanted to make their feelings clear about the president, but couldn’t they have done it in a less terrifying way?

6. “Puttin on the Ritz” – Taco

This one of those moments from the 80’s that makes you question people’s taste. The song was quite popular and the video is weird. The concept isn’t that bad; it’s Taco strolling through alleyways and downtown singing. But the video loses its mind near the end. There close ups of living mannequins singing and people in creepy old men masks. All the while Taco robotically sings and makes strained faces making him look like someone you shouldn’t trust. To make things worse the uncensored version has backup dancers tap dancing with Taco in blackface. It’s one of those moments that makes you question “did I just see that?” The video was horrible enough on its own. Why is this bit in there? It’s unsettling and baffling especially for a clip in the 80’s.

5. “Plug in Baby” – Muse

Videos from the 80’s aren’t the only ones that lure into a false sense of safety. Muse’s clip for “Plug in Baby” seems standard: the band performs the song mixed with footage of dead-eyed models. Classic rock star stuff. It’s until a brief shot of a pair of disembodied legs that you begin to question things. Eventually it’s revealed all the models aren’t human and have what look like tentacles or wires sticking out from their bodies. The pulsing effects on the tentacles are kind of cheesy, but it still gives you shivers when you see legs with only tentacles attached thrusting in the air. What the fuck, Muse.

4. “Self-Control” – Laura Branigan

Laura Branigan talks about the pleasures of the night in this weird clip. It starts out pretty sane with the singer walking through the streets and hitting up a night club. Along the way she spots a guy in a Phantom of the Opera mask, but that’s not what makes this video unsettling. He eventually takes her to a weird basement party where everyone is rubbing against each other wearing masquerade masks. Even that isn’t why the video is on the list. It’s when Branigan finds herself at home with these same people rubbing, caressing, and stroking her that it reaches uncomfortable levels. No matter how many times I see this video it always creeps me out. And yeah, it’s not particularly scary or anything like that, but something about their unnatural movements with those still, eerie masks makes this video horrid. Who thought this was a good idea?

3. “Wild Wild West” – Escape Club

This INXS wannabe video starts off with each of the members playing the song while faux Michael Hutchence gyrates in the corner. Seems like a standard bad 80’s video until the camera pans out shows disembodied legs and arms playing the tambourine. What makes it even worse is they’re connected making it look like one long body limb. It’s just fucking creepy looking. All they’re doing is clapping their hands and tapping their feet, but it looks obscene not attached to a body. It gets even worse when a pair of the legs tries to be scintillating by first rubbing on the singer and then rubbing on its own legs. Who let this monstrosity happen? It’s a video made to give you nightmares.

3. “Jeopardy” – Greg Kihn Band

A wedding day is the focus of this clip. We see Greg Kihn getting ready to get married and trying to get over his cold feet. Sounds pretty standard so far until Kihn looks around him and sees other couples literally joined together. One couple’s arms are fused together while another couple are like odd Siamese twins with a pulsing organ between them. Kihn tries to shake it off and is relieved to see his bride his normal. Until her face changes into a rotting skeleton and her jaw falls off. The rest of the video goes batshit crazy where the entire church turns into zombies and a disembodied tentacle tries to devour Kihn. It all turns out to be a dream and Kihn returns to reality. What is up with videos from the 80’s starting out sane and going nuts at the end? It’s like the director got high in the middle of filming and changed the script.

2. “Shock to the System” – Billy Idol

It’s hard to imagine anything scarier looking in this video aside from Billy Idol’s hairstyle but there is. After Idol gets beaten by the cops in a dystopian future, his body starts absorbing the electronic debris surrounding him. As if the image of wires being sucked into his hand wasn’t creepy enough, we then get a close up of Idol’s contorted face. He grimaces in pain as one eye steadily bulges out further and further from his face. Finally, it pops revealing itself to be a camera lens. Then Idol is transformed into a literal mechanical man full of gears and wires sticking out of him. The video itself may be confusing and laughable but the way Idol jerks and shakes with all those buts sticking out is disturbing. Who greenlit this idea?

1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

So, this may be cheating a little bit, but this video is too insane to not include. Every moment of this clip is batshit crazy. In the span of five minutes, you see ninjas, Cirque du Soleil dancers, football players, fencers, swimmers being splashed with water, rejects from Grease, and Bonnie Tyler fighting a wind machine. So much is happening in this video you think you’re prepared for anything. That is until Tyler runs into the possessed children’s choir with glowing eyes. The effects are pretty cheap by today’s standards, but that moment when a single boy flies towards the singer will make your heart jump. Why is this happening? This video makes absolutely no sense. It’s like they had a huge budget with no concept and said “Fuck it, it’ll look good in the end.” If I had to pick one video to represent the excess of the 80’s this would be it.

Honorable Mention:

“Talking In Your Sleep” – The Romantics

This video didn’t make the list because nothing really happens: the band walks around singing in what looks like a factory full of women sleeping upright. It’s weird, but nothing that creeps you out. But it gets an honorable mention because of singer Wally Palmer. Something about the way he attempts to dance to the music while having the same dead expression on his face is unsettling. It’s like he’s a robot pretending to be human and decided this is the way humans move and dance. It weirds me out every time, especially when he tries to make sensual (?) expressions.

Which one of these videos gives you nightmares? Is there a video I missed? Let me know in the comments!


Rank the Videos: The Cure 1986-1990 (REDUX)

I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Cure is one of the best bands from the 80’s. Not only is the proof in their amazing songs, but it can also be found in their crazy, cool videos. If you’ve been following long enough, you know I’ve already ranked these videos. But since I’m lucky enough to be seeing the band next month, I wanted to revisit all of their videos. Have my opinions changed? Was I too harsh on one clip? Join me as I once again rank these Cure videos from best to worst. Where will your favorite land?

“Lullaby” (1989)

This is one of The Cure’s best videos and the best part is it still holds up 27 years later. The creepy song has an equally creepy video, which finds Robert Smith being eaten by a giant spider. For added effect, he is also shown covered in webs as this “spider man” who comes to eat people. Smith lays in bed gradually being covered in spider webs and even turns into a weird human spider sprouting several arms and legs. And even though it looks kind of cheesy, when they show Smith on the ceiling like a spider it still creeps me out; maybe because they linger on it longer than they should. Definitely don’t watch if you’re deathly afraid of spiders. Great makeup, cool costumes, and one weird looking spider prop all make for an amazing video. Fun fact: originally a spider was supposed to be crawling all over Smith, but he refused since he is afraid of spiders.

“Close to Me (Remix)” (1990)

In 1990, the band released Mixed Up, their only remix album, and it included a new version of their hit “Close to Me.” They decided to film a new video to go along with and it has to be one of the best things they’ve done. What makes the clip so ingenious is it continues where the original video left off. We see the wardrobe falling into the sea, then we are taken underwater where Smith and Co. swim out and explore the underwater world. More awesome costumes and weird props, including a trumpet playing octopus out to get Smith make the video odd, but fun. I love the part where they make it look like bubbles are coming out of Smith’s mouth while he’s singing. What makes the video even more charming is that they did this all on a set; no CGI found here. Unfortunately, this clip gets overshadowed by the original, which is also awesome.

“Why Can’t I Be You?” (1987)

This is probably the only time you’ll see The Cure attempting to dance and yes, it’s just as awful as you imagine. At least they tried. This is like a bad fever dream featuring awful dancing, flashing lights, bright colors, and a pair of disembodied lips. The band looks like they raided a Party City for various costumes ranging from vampire to bear. And let’s not forget one of the members imitating Louis Armstrong. Yeah…it’s pretty awkward. Aside from that, it’s the silliest video they’ve ever done and it’s amazing. It also shows that it wasn’t all death and depression for the infamous dark band. They knew how to have a good time in the most bizarre way possible. Pope dubs it as the video he always wanted to make. The 12” version of the video features additional footage of the band dancing.

“Never Enough” (1990)

This is another quirky and odd video from the band featuring each member performing in a freak show. Robert Smith does double duty as an overweight woman who keeps flashing her thighs and a Siamese twin with bassist Simon, while Porl plays the bearded lady. Some of the visuals are really cool, such as The Cure looking gigantic while playing on a small stage or when it looks like Smith is hanging over the ocean. There are even some gruesome close ups of Smith in black make up that are kind of creepy when you look at them long enough. It’s videos like this that make you realize The Cure should get more credit for having some of the most creative and innovative music videos of the 80’s and 90’s.

“A Night Like This” (1986)

Even though this song got the video treatment, it was never officially released as a single, which is a shame because it’s one of their best. Unlike their previous videos, there’s nothing whimsical here. It’s mainly the band standing there playing the song looking morose, but what makes it stand out is how it seems to be running backwards. The band’s movement is very slow and spastic; Smith looks like he has no control over his arms at times. Also, rather than the camera zooming in on the group, it’s constantly moving away from them, something you don’t see very often. It’s a video that’s easy to miss, but it’s still one of their better clips.

“Just Like Heaven” (1987)

Image result for the cure just like heaven video

If you don’t know The Cure, you’ve at least heard this song. It’s still their most popular and most accessible single. The video is pretty memorable with the band back at Beachy Head, the cliff where they “fell off” in their previous video “Close to Me.” The video marks the only appearance of Smith’s long term wife Mary Poole; she’s the one who comes out and dances with him during the dreamy sequence. This is probably what The Cure will always be known for, but you can’t complain; it’s a great song. The clip is simple, yet beautifully shot. Though the band is wearing all black, they somehow manage to stand out against the sky backdrop.

“Boys Don’t Cry” (1986)

The whole idea for this video is actually really cute. Even though the video was released in 1986, the song was first recorded in 1979 for their debut album when the band was a trio, which is how they’re depicted here. They even went so far as to get their original bassist Michael Dempsy for the shoot. What makes the clip so adorable is that there are three young lads representing members of the band, while the members dance around as silhouettes. It gets kind of creepy at the end when the silhouettes of the members suddenly sport glowing red eyes. It doesn’t sound like it should be that scary, but it’s actually quite disturbing.

“Catch” (1987)

Image result for the cure catch video

This is probably one of my favorite Cure songs, even though it doesn’t seem to get that much attention. Something about it is so relaxing and pretty. That might’ve been the vibe they were after with the video. There isn’t action or whimsy here. It’s only the band at the beach enjoying the beautiful scenery. And Lol walking around pretending he knows how to play the violin. It has to be one of the most unremarkable Cure clips out there. It’s almost surprising to learn that Tim Pope directed this one too since his videos seem to find the band in odd situations and costumes. Though nothing much goes on, it’s still an enjoyable video for the beautiful outdoor shots.

“Lovesong” (1989)

This video is kind of awkward since the band is surrounded by phallic cave formations and yes, they look phallic on purpose (thanks Tim Pope). The opening shot is clearly a dick. It’s just hard to watch at times. No wonder the guys look uncomfortable sitting there. Smith looks like he wants to disappear as he curls up in a ball while Simon looks at the scene very disapprovingly. Smith originally wrote the song for his wife as her wedding present, but it must be hard to sing it when surrounded by a cave full of dicks. No joke, the director said he wanted to show the raw sexual power of the band. Is that really something you think of when you think of The Cure? I didn’t think so either.

“Hot Hot Hot!!!” (1988)

If this video is notable for anything it’s Robert Smith’s lack of hair. This is around the time where he decided to practically cut it all off and needless to say, Cureheads were shocked by Smith’s new look. Weird ass puppets, awkward dancing, and “dwarf” versions of the band are all found in this chaotic and confusing clip. It’s not a boring video, but it’s not that memorable. The same can be said about the song. The clip is just weird and Smith’s embellished singing is hard to stomach. If you ever wondered what The Cure would sound like as a weird funk, Jazz band then check out this video; yes the results are as disjointed and awkward as you think. Why did they think the video, let alone the song, was a good idea? Probably drugs. Believe it or not, there’s a 12” version that features more head scratching footage.

“Fascination Street” (1989)

The video for the US only single originally had a cool concept involving time travel and Doctor Who references. But due to time constraints and not being sure if American audiences would understand the concept, they settled for the band playing their instruments with some hazy effects over them. A part of the original idea is seen during the beginning; there is a police box shown much like the one used for the Tardis in Doctor Who. It’s a shame that such a great song got a mediocre video.

“Pictures of You” (1990)

This is another video I’ve always found disappointing. This is one of the songs that made me fall in love with the band, so it’s sad that the video is kind of boring. The set up is actually pretty cute: the band performs in a winter snowstorm in Scotland surrounded by palm trees and beach toys. There’s nothing else to it. Sure, it looks like they’re having a great time and Smith looks amazing in it, but there’s nothing about it to hold your attention til the end. It’s one I’d rather skip.

“Killing an Arab” (1986)

Image result for the cure killing arab

This seems to be the band’s artsy video. It doesn’t feature them at all, rather just an elderly man walking around a village until he reaches the sea. It actually looks like the same guy on their greatest hits album cover. The video seems to take inspiration from The Stranger by Albert Camus, which is what the song is based on (not the actual killing of Arabs). Besides that, nothing else happens. It’s kind of bland and boring, especially when compared to their later videos. But it is appropriate for the song. This clip can only be found on their 1986 video collection Staring at the Sea: the Images. The Cure has since re-named the song “Killing Another,” because they were tired of the constant racist accusations.

“Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (1986)

This is a great song from their debut album, but the video is nothing but train tracks sped up from the point of view of the train. I guess it’s an interesting idea, but that’s all that happens. The band isn’t in it and it’s not like the train crashes at the end or anything like that. It basically goes from one stop to the next. The video wasn’t even released along with the single in 1979. Rather, it was specifically made for their first video collection, Staring At the Sea: the Images. It’s interesting to see at least, but it’s not something that you would watch again and it’s definitely not memorable.

Rank the Videos: The Cure 1979-1985 (REDUX)

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. Also, some of these videos are really hard to find, so please forgive the random links and video sites featured.

“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 makeshift 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)

Image result for the cure lovecats

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 makeshift 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)

Image result for the cure caterpillar

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 is 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 an 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 backcombed hair, he has a short haircut and no makeup 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 makeup 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.

“Primary” (1981)

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 makeup, 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 a 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.

Speak & Spell – Depeche Mode

Release Year: 1981

Rating: 6.5/10

Every band has a black sheep in their catalog, that one album they don’t want to talk about. For Depeche Mode, it’s their very first. With songs written by former DM member Vince Clarke, this record doesn’t display the moody and dark band we know today. The content is more synthpop and makes them sound like any new wave band during the time. Since its release the band has dismissed the LP and said it’s their least favorite, but is it really that bad?

Depeche Mode are known for their introspective lyrics, dark synth, and songs that talk about taboo subjects. None of that is on this album. This one is sugary sweet like so much pop music during the 80s. You hear this right off the bat with the opening track “New Life,” which is catchy, but cheesy. There’s nothing about it to make it stand out from other new wave songs from this period. Despite this, it is really catchy mainly because the synth and the hook are so repetitive. You hear it and can’t help but dance. It’s not bad, but definitely not their best. The next track “I Sometimes Wish I Were Dead” isn’t as morbid as it sounds. The synth is really playful and wonky, but there isn’t anything else notable about the song. It’s not bad, but not very memorable.

Nodisco” finally sees a change in the synth. Rather than sounding really light and sweet, it has a dark undertone making it a bit more interesting. It’s still really cheesy, especially since it sounds like a rejected disco tune. The lyrics are super corny with the hook being “Move me disco/Baby don’t you let go.” It’s as if Vince Clarke didn’t know what else to write about and this is what he ended up with. “What’s Your Name” has been called the band’s least favorite song by both Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher. And once you hear the light poppy synth that’s bouncy, but way too sugary, you’ll agree with them. It’s this weird 50’s doo wop drenched in generic synth, but it’s the lyrics that’ll leave you scratching your head. The chorus is Dave Gahan repeating “Hey, you’re such a pretty boy/you’re so pretty.” And this isn’t the only time sexualized lyrics towards guys are used. They’re also found on “Boys Say Go!” No wonder so many people thought they were gay for years.

There are a few songs that are listenable and seem most like current Depeche Mode. “Tora! Tora! Tora!” written by Martin Gore, is one of the best tracks on the LP. It’s one of those things where you can’t explain why it’s so catchy. The music is stark, disjointed, and again has darker vibe than the rest of the songs here. Gahan plays with his vocals on this track where he emphasizes certain words. By this point he hasn’t gotten down his vocal style, but it’s at least better than what we’ve heard so far. Another good song is “Any Second Now” which features Gore on vocals. It’s your standard slow track with his soft vocals and dreamy music. Both of these tracks are as close to classic DM you’re gonna get on this album.

The record closes with the notable track “Just Can’t Get Enough.” Of course this is the best song on the album. The synth rings out so wonderfully and sounds so fucking happy it puts a smile on your face. Compared to their later songs it’s kind of cheesy (“Just like a rainbow/you know you set me free”), but it puts you in a good mood. And it has to be their catchiest song in their catalog. The reason it works so well is because there’s actual variation of the music. It’s very bubbly and energetic and during the bridge these bright horns come blaring in for a brief second, but it sounds so good you want more.

The album isn’t horrible, but it probably is the worst in their catalog. A lot of it is standard synth pop that’s repetitive and gets dull really fast. There are a few songs that stand out and even have a hint of later Depeche Mode, but most of them are forgettable. If anything it gives listeners an idea of what the band would’ve been like if Clarke would’ve stuck around. It’s hard to not compare it to their later stuff, but even looking at it as a new wave album, it’s still not that great. Let’s be thankful Martin Gore took over songwriting duties from then on.

Playlist: On The Flip Side

The b-side can be a wonderful thing. Though some of the results are a little harrowing, often times it’s the flip side is more successful than the single. Something about not having the pressure of making a hit single or pleasing radio stations invites artists to experiment and lets loose, which leaves us with some amazing songs.  There was no way I could cover all of the best or notable b-sides in this playlist, so these are just a handful of tracks from some of my favorite artists. So sit back, push play, and get lost in the whimsical world of the b-side.

“Dangerous” – Depeche Mode

This b-side to the already steamy “Personal Jesus” is one of the band’s sexiest songs. It doesn’t have anything to do with the content, rather it’s all about the sound. The hard electro beat and Dave Gahan’s smooth baritone vocals just makes the whole thing sound sexy as hell. Something about it puts a twist in your spine and gives you goosebumps. It even sounds a bit dangerous, especially with the slinking rhythm. In terms of style, the song has the same dark, cold vibe that took over the Violator album. Most would say “Happiest Girl” is the band’s best b-side and while it is good, it’s this gem that’s always been my favorite.

“10:15 Saturday Night” – The Cure

The Cure is one of those bands with a ton of amazing b-sides. I actually made a list of ten of my favorites a while ago. Since that list has all my favorites, here’s another stellar b-side from the band I didn’t talk about. This song features the unmistakable cry of Robert Smith and the “drip, drip, drip” line that pounds into your head. It was this song that convinced Chris Parry to sign the band to his newly formed label Fiction. And though it was the b-side to “Killing an Arab” you could still find it on their debut album. Still, you gotta give credit to the track that started the long and wonderful history of The Cure.

“Pink Ego Box” – Muse

Muse is another band with an insane amount of great b-sides, which is why I also made a list of favorites. While this b-side to “Muscle Museum” didn’t make the cut, it’s still one of their better tracks. It has a pretty simple beat and guitar riff while a young Matt Bellamy wails on about online relationships. The song doesn’t get intense until the end when the rough guitars start screaming along with Bellamy who yells “You turn me on” repeatedly. There’s actually an earlier version of this song  under the name “Instant Messenger” that had an AOL clip saying “You’ve got post.” It had to be removed for copyright reasons, so the band renamed the song. The second title is way more intriguing anyway.

“Into the Groove” – Madonna

This song was originally the b-side to the Madonna single “Angel.” Only later when it was featured on the soundtrack to her film Desperately Seeking Susan was it released as a stand alone single. Either way this is still one of Madonna’s best songs. It celebrates and emulates the club scene she was so fond of in her early years. With the high energy and the blazing synth, you can’t help but get up and dance whenever it comes on. It’s become a fan favorite over the years and is a track Madonna rarely leaves out of her setlist. The song has been remixed, reworked, and reimagined since it was first released, but nothing beats the original that helped make Madonna a megastar.

“Get Down Make Love” – Nine Inch Nails

There are more remixes than b-sides in the NIN catalog, but during the Pretty Hate Machine era, Trent Reznor and company did an industrial cover of this Queen song for the b-side of “Sin.” Whereas the original tries to be sensual and sexy, this version is nothing but raw, harsh, and creepy. The song has all the pulsing synth and electronic that makes NIN songs distinctive and it opens with a odd sample of a doctor asking about a patient’s sexual history. Moaning can be heard throughout the track and if you listen close enough you can hear the actual Queen version albeit played backwards. The experience is weird and eerie, but when you look at songs like “Closer” did we really expect Reznor to treat love and sex nicely?

“Tonight We Murder” – Ministry

Some of the most terrifying and heaviest music comes from Ministry and this song fits both those labels. Released as the b-side to “Stigmata” this track sounds like pure hell. Al Jourgensen cackles, wails, and screams like he’s being tortured while the intense music thumps and grinds to the beat. Everything keeps getting more brutal as Jourgensen steadily loses control as he’s singing. The best is the hook where he sounds evil when he repeats “tonight we murder/tonight we murder.” It actually sounds very similar to Thrill Kill Kult‘s early material, which is no surprise since the two previously worked together.

“Again” – HIM

This melancholy track first appeared as the b-side to “In Joy and Sorrow,” but was later released on a limited edition of Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights. The track is pretty standard for the band: dirty guitars, Ville Valo’s soaring sweet vocals, and Gothic inspired lyrics. This is yet another song that seems to explore the realm of love and death like most of their material. It easily would’ve fit on their third album. The song was later featured in the film Haggard, which was directed by Bam Margera (remember him?) This doesn’t come as a surprise since Bam was obssesed with the band and eventually became friends with Valo.

“Carry Me In” – Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant is a current band I know of that actively releases b-sides. All of them are pretty solid, but one of the best is this b-side to their 2011 single “Shake Me Down.” Singer Matt Shultz sounds weary and weakened as he sings “Love/carry me in/held down by my words/and weight of my sins.” The music starts out kind of frantic especially the beginning, which kind of has this spaghetti Western vibe. Right when you think the song is over, everything slows down to a lull and Shultz continues to mumble his way through the rest of the song. What started out as kind of bright ends on a melancholy note.

“You’re so Vague” – Queens of the Stone Age

I originally wanted to go with “Born To Hula,” but it’s a re-recording of a Kyuss song, the band Josh Homme used to be in. So, I went with this Rated R b-side instead. Using a play on the Carly Simon single “You’re So Vain,” Homme uses his sweet, soothing vocals to sing cringing lyrics like “Green eyed boys/lick the razor blades/girl I think I love you/and the mess you made” and he sounds hypnotic while doing so. There’s even a cool twist on the hook where he sings “Baby you’re so vague/that you probably think this song ain’t about you.”  As usual with QOTSA songs, the music is fucking awesome with guitars that move at a dragging pace, but still manage to sound sexy as hell. Then again don’t most of their songs sound sultry?

“We Will Rock You” – Queen

Did you know that this massive Queen hit started out as a b-side? What’s now considered an anthem for every sporting event across the world was originally the flip side to the equally popular “We Are the Champions.” Its simple stomp clapping beat, Freddie Mercury’s passionate vocal delivery, and Brain May’s searing guitar solo at the end are what makes the song unforgettable. It’s a timeless track and definitely among the band’s best. Both songs were actually written after one show during their 1977 tour when the band walked off stage and the crowd clapped and sand “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to them. Let’s just try to forget the horrible cover versions.

“Sick of Me” – Green Day

This b-side to “Hitchin’ a Ride” finds the classic snotty Green Day attitude as Billie Joe laments a dying a relationship. Though it’s a good song, it’s pretty similar to their other tracks from this time: simple three chord rock with a catchy hook. Still, there are some great bratty and funny lyrics like “Like a dog/that just pissed in your barbecue/sick of me.” This couple tries to make it work, but by the end Billie admits “I’m sick of you too.” Since it follows the winning Green Day formula, it should appeal to most fans. The track was later released on b-side compilation album Shenanigans.

“Fingers and Toes” – Biffy Clyro

If there’s one current band dedicated to the art of the b-side it’s Biffy Clyro. For just about all of their albums, they’ve released a companion b-side LP. They have so many it was hard to pick just one, so I went with on my favorites from their last release Similarities. What instantly catches your attention is the opening line “ladies ask why I’ve got/no fingers and toes.” From there the music kicks up and gets pretty intense, but what’s great about this is they do it without a mass amount of distortion. And even though the music has amped up singer Simon Neil’s voice remain calm throughout. Biffy is definitely one of those bands where their b-sides are just as good, sometimes even better, than the a-sides.

“Throw Them to the Lions” – Siouxsie and the Banshees

Released on the flip side to “Dazzle,” this b-side is the exact opposite of the single. Whereas the a-side is very upbeat and almost whimsical, this one greets the listener with a minute of noise and distortion before Siouxsie Sioux’s soothing voice comes on. Everything about the track is pretty chaotic and all over the place. The music is really dirty, harsh, and intense making it a stand out track. The song also manages to be catchy with Sioux’s warrior cry of “hey/hey/hey” midway through. Sioux and crew have quite a few good b-sides, but this one has always been my favorite.

“Aneurysm” – Nirvana

Though the song did eventually see a wider release both on Incesticide and From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, this Nirvana track was originally released as the b-side to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” From Kurt Cobain growling “Come on over/and do the twist” to the whirring guitar riff that opens the song, it has become one of the best tracks in the band’s entire catalog. The song has several references to Cobain’s ex-girlfriend Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill along with poking fun at pop music conventions and even his own drug use, which was nothing but a rumor at the time. The best part comes when Cobain lets loose a ragged and weary howl right before the end. It shows how Cobain knew how to transfer a lot his pain into kick ass songs.

There are a ton of b-sides I missed, so let me know which one is your favorite in the comments!