HIM

Rank the Videos: HIM 2005 – 2013

With only a month away from seeing the band live for the final time, it’s time to wrap up the series and take a look at HIM’s final videos. Continuing with Dark Light and moving towards the Tears on Tape era, the videos aren’t as awkward or cheesy as their early ones. Unfortunately, their videos steadily become predictable. Most of these clips look similar to their other ones or is just yet another performance clip with the only difference being the setting. While not terrible, they aren’t as memorable as their other clips. That being said, here are HIM’s videos 2005 – 2013 from best to worst. Check out the first parts here and here.

“Killing Loneliness” Version 1 (2005)

For one of HIM’s biggest singles, the band filmed two videos: one for the European the release, the other for the US. The European version, directed by Noble Jones, finds the band fulfilling various sexual desires. Starting with a dreary, grey setting, we follow a woman walking to a seedy club emblazoned with the Heartagram symbol. Once inside, she gets her coin, also featuring the symbol, and enters a nudie booth. After paying the fee, the band is revealed to be inside the booth performing. The rest of the clip follows different people as they watch HIM perform and begin to enjoy themselves a bit too much. One woman even comes prepared in her lingerie and doesn’t hesitate to start rubbing herself. Ville Valo takes full advantage of his sex symbol status as he chooses one lucky lady and sings in her ear. It’s a slightly naughty clip that goes beyond the average performance video. Though there isn’t any nudity, the sexual situations are somehow still too steamy for American shores.

“Heartkiller” (2010)

This video by James Copeland actually has some clever image trickery at play. Taxidermy figures of tigers, owls, ravens, and boars are carefully layered over each member of the band and one fierce looking lady. Sometimes the image overlying doesn’t exactly work, but when it does, it leaves some head-turning visuals. The most notable moment is opening where flashes of a skull synch up perfectly with Ville. Upon release, I wasn’t impressed with the video and only remembered a shirtless Ville bathed in red light. Revisiting it, I find it to be one of their most creative videos. The imagery is awesome and really sticks with you once the video is over.

“Into the Night” (2013)

What is now HIM’s final video shows them playing the song while mysterious robed figures gather bricks and lay them out in a pattern. The people range from old to young carrying bricks to the middle of a sandy area. At one point Ville has his own brick and tosses it to one of the figures. By the end, we see the result: a Heartagram, what a surprise. The video is nothing amazing, but the robed figures add a sense of mystery, at least the first time you see it. And if you’ve ever spent time in class scribbling out Heartagrams, it brings on a pleasing sense of nostalgia. It’s weird thinking this is HIM’s last video (as of now). It wasn’t meant to be a goodbye and it doesn’t feel like one. There’s no sense of finality to it, which is actually kind of nice. Watching it now, I don’t feel any sadness even though the band is ending. Rather, it makes me remember how much joy they’ve brought me with their music, unlike something like Blink-182’s “Not Now,” which I still associate with frustration due to their break up.

“Killing Loneliness” Version 2 (2006)

Sadly, the US version of this video is quite lame and predictable. Directed by Nathan Cox, the majority of the clip features the band performing in the middle of a club. Other shots include Ville walking through the crowd and a cameo by Kat Von D, seemingly looking for the singer. When the two finally meet, she brands him with a new tattoo of Edgar Allen Poe’s eyes. Not really sure what this random exchange has to do with the rest of the video, but it’s in there. It’s another straightforward performance clip and ends up being dull compared to the previous version.

“Tears on Tape” (2013)

HIM delivers a cryptic video for this single. Beginning with shots of the band members playing in front of a projector, we see Ville scribble out mysterious symbols. Soon, the symbols are replicated everywhere by different people. They serve as tattoos, graffiti, secret notes, an eerie flag, and even some sort of decoration for a horse. This scene is just confusing. Why paint a horse in the first place? The symbol widely spreads similar to the Heartagram, which has been adopted by people who don’t even know the band. It’s a decent video that shows how these weird symbols take on different meanings for people and even bring them together. The only laughable thing is Burton. What the hell is up with that shot of Burton sitting on the floor tapping the keyboard so unenthusiastically? Seeing him tap on his keyboard giving unsure looks at the camera breaks the serious mood the video is trying to set up.

“All Lips Go Blue” (2013)

Directed by Eugene Riecansky, this video collects a bunch of cool imagery and puts it all together with no clear concept. We see giant chess pieces that crumble, violent crashing waves, gnarled trees stolen from a Tim Burton set, and the tumbling of a giant house of cards. Meanwhile, the band is superimposed over these scenes watching the madness unfold, though they look kind of bored by the whole thing. The video is beautifully shot and the graphics are cool to look at, but the unclear focus and the dull look of the band don’t make it the most exciting clip.

“Kiss of Dawn” (2007)

For this clip, director Meiert Avis relies on some of the band’s old video tropes: shirtless Ville and questionable effects. We see HIM recording the track along with shots of Ville looking pensive while writing. The rest of the video finds the singer shirtless, wandering through a Gothic setting while a beautiful apparition passes by him. What this has to do with the story or the song? No clue and unlike Avis’ work on “Wings of a Butterfly” the Gothic scenes look cheesy. Not a terrible video, but like many other HIM clips, nothing notable – just an excuse to stare at Ville for four minutes.

“Scared to Death” (2010)

Directed by Eugene Riecansky, this one has a somewhat similar vibe as “Gone With the Sin:” Ville walking through eye-catching landscapes. This time he’s walking through the eerily empty city streets with his trusty guitar. He gives the camera the typical brooding looks throughout his journey. We then see the other members walking the streets as if trying to meet up for band rehearsal. Out of nowhere weird 3D triangles begin raining from the sky. In one of the cheesiest moments we see one close up and it shows a promo photo of the band as it passes. While the video may be interesting to watch at first, it’s not all that memorable, but hey, at least Ville looks handsome.

“Bleed Well” (2007)

Meiret Avis returns one last time to direct this performance clip. Taking the same grainy effect he used on “Wings of a Butterfly” the band performs the song with gusto and joy. That’s about it. It’s another boring performance clip from the band. At least it looks like they’re having fun; the video opens with Ville laughing and the smile he breaks into while singing is infectious. It’s the one thing about the video I actually remember. Other than that, it plays out like their other performance videos.

“Strange World” (2012)

A rather scruffy looking Ville and crew plow through this Ke cover in this video. Directed by Eugene Riecansky, the clip is nothing but HIM performing the track in the studio. Aside from the band pulling some questionable “rocking out” faces, nothing happens. It’s your typical “we had no ideas, so let’s just perform” video. The most distracting thing is Ville’s lip-synching. Something about it seems off as if he’s trying too hard or not hard enough. Maybe he knew the video would be a bore and decided it wasn’t worth putting in the effort.

And with that, we’ve covered all of HIM’s videos. Some are now iconic and ones that I will gladly watch on repeat. Others are tough to sit through with corny visuals and awkward performances. And rest are just predictable. Still, it was a blast revisiting all of HIM’s videos and seeing their evolution from a small Finnish rock band to global superstars. Doing this series brought back a lot of fond memories when I first got into the band and a lot of them were just fun to watch again. Though the band is breaking up, they at least left us with great music we can still rock out to.

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Rank the Videos: HIM 2001 – 2005

Before saying goodbye to HIM, I’m looking back at their videos an ranking them from best to worst. In the second part, we look at their videos from the Love Metal to Dark Light era. While most of their early videos were rough and kind of hard to watch, they improved by the time HIM had their American break. The videos still aren’t perfect, as you’ll see from the Bam Margera directed ones, but they’re visually pleasing and more creative than their previous efforts. Some attempt to tell stories while others are more shameless Ville eye candy. So, let’s take a look at HIM’s videos from 2001 – 2005 ranked from best to worst. Where does your favorite video land?

“Wings of a Butterfly” (2005)

Directed by Meiert Avis, this is HIM’s most stylish video. Filmed in Los Angeles’ Union Station, the clip opens with their iconic heartagram circling the night skies like the bat signal. We then travel up to a tower where the band performs in a dark location and Ville plays with random equipment that may have come from a mad scientist. The video ends with Ville on top of the tower as it’s submerged in water. Not only is the video filled with cool shots, it has an overlay of grainy effects making it look like lost footage or an old movie. It’s definitely their most visually pleasing video to date and remains a highlight in their videography.

“Buried Alive By Love” (2003)

This is the first of four videos Bam Margera would direct for HIM. Set in a lavish LA theater, HIM performs on stage while actor Juliette Lewis watches from the wings. She starts to give Ville some coy looks and start a game of cat and mouse. They finally meet up and walk out the theater hand and hand. Simple concept, but it looks really cool. Not only is the setting beautiful, the clip has this grainy, super 8 quality to it giving it a vintage feel. Though it’s a notable HIM video there are some awkward shots, like Ville looking sick when the camera is spinning around him or how he outstretches his arms with dead eyes not really sure what to do with himself.

“The Funeral of Hearts” (2003)

HIM traverse the icy landscapes of Sweden encountering strange, mythical people along the way in this clip. The first video from the Love Metal period is strange, yet beautiful. Of course, there are the gratuitous shots of Ville looking adorable in his trademark beanie and eyeliner. Along with this are shots of mysterious tribespeople covered in different colors looking like they’re conducting some sort of ritual. You can’t really tell what’s going on, but it’s this enigmatic air that makes the video so intriguing. You want to piece together the story and since HIM doesn’t spell it out for you, it’s open to various interpretations. The video ends with an amazing shot of the heartagram made out of burning bushes. Though after that is a shot of the album, which is lame.

“The Sacrament” (2004)

I still considered this my favorite song and video by HIM. Directed again by Bam Margera, the video is a mix of HIM performing in what looks like a grand mansion and a lonely woman longing over the loss of Ville. It’s straightforward, but there’s something beautiful in the cold scenery and the simplicity of it. Though this is the point where Margera’s video staples come through: saturated colors making Ville as white as a ghost, multiple shots of Ville walking by himself with a brooding look on his face, and a woman sitting on an ornate couch waiting for her lover. And just like the prior video, there are some questionable shots here, like one of Ville’s crotch. Watching this again it’s clear Margera isn’t the best director. He’s a skateboarder, so no one really expects him to be. Him directing these videos were his way of doing something for his friends and being associated with the band, which he seemed to badly want.

“In Joy and Sorrow” (2001)

 This is the best video from the Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights era. It starts off as a simple performance clip with plenty of sexy Ville to look at. As the band keeps performing, the lights and equipment around them begin to freak out and emit a  blinding light, including Ville’s mic. It seems the spirit of a (dead?) lover is the cause of this as we see for a brief second. By the end, her apparition appears next to Ville who just keeps on singing. Directed by John Hillcoat, the video is pleasing to watch. Not a lot happens, but the light tricks and Ville’s cool illuminated mic makes it stand out from typical performance clips. Also, this is when Ville cemented his go-to look: long stringy hair, thick eye makeup, silver bands, and the “Your pretty face is going to hell” coat. This is the Ville millions of HIM fans would eventually fall for, myself included.

“And Love Said No” (2004)

The final video directed by Bam Margera feels like a random collage with no theme. The clip is filled with various shots of Ville outside and inside of a church along with random graphics and effects. Some of these shots are beautiful, like Ville singing in the forest or the heartagarm that seemingly appears out of thin air. Other shots look horribly dated and weird, like calligraphy flourishes that weave in between the band or the fading shots and swirls appearing in random places. It seems Margera wanted to go for a notebook feel since the video closes with a book shutting, but he doesn’t pull it off. Again, not a terrible video, but not very satisfying.

“Solitary Man” (2004)

Yet another video directed by Bam Margera. At least it’s an improvement over his previous efforts. Still, it’s nothing too special. It’s primarily a performance video mixed in with recycled footage from Margera’s Haggard movie previously seen in “Heartache Every Moment.” There’s also new footage of a random woman strutting around in her underwear. The video doesn’t do too much but does offer fan service since Ville is singing sans shirt. It’s not a terrible clip, but it’s pretty unremarkable. At least Margera opted to focus on the entire band instead of only extreme close-ups of Ville.

“Heartache Every Moment” (2001)

This is your standard live performance video. It shows various clips of the band in concert mainly focusing on Ville Valo with some occasional shots of the crowd. Multiple clips playing at the same time along with a run through of all of the band’s symbols try to shake things up, but it’s still a vanilla video. Skater and Ville Valo wannabe Bam Margera directed a second version which features a different live performance from the band mixed with clips from his Haggard movie. It’s slightly more entertaining because you’re watching a condensed episode of Viva La Bam. Anyone else think Margera’s love of HIM was a bit weird? He even names himself Valo in the movie. Better watch out, Ville. You could have a Single White Female situation on your hands.

“Close to the Flame” (2002)

Yes, it’s another boring live performance clip. HIM “performs” the song in a darkened venue with a funnel of smoke streaming out of Ville’s mouth. Throw in some customary shots of the band on stage and that’s the whole video. To make it even worse it doesn’t even feature a live version of the song. It’s just the studio version pumped out over footage of a live performance. If the video was actually them playing the song in concert, it had a chance to be more interesting. As it is, it’s just boring especially since the band doesn’t do much on stage.

There are only a few more videos left to cover. Come back next month for the third and final part of Rank the Videos when we look at HIM’s videos from 2005 – 2013.

 

Rank the Videos: HIM 1996 – 2001

I was taken aback when HIM announced their breakup. As I explained before, they were never the most important band in my life, but I’ve followed them for so long it’s like saying goodbye to an old friend. I immersed myself in the band shortly after the news, similar to many fans and soon I came upon their videos. I never thought they had the best music videos, but there are a handful I always loved. Some are outright terrible, but others are charming even if they are strictly fan service.

Before seeing them one last time in fall, I wanted to look back at all their videos and rank them from best to worst.

“Join Me (In Death)” (2000)

HIM’s biggest song received four different videos with the “ice version” being the most popular. Ville and crew find themselves in the middle of an ice palace performing what turned out to be their breakout song. This clip, directed by John Hillcoat, gets to the heart of the track, which is about Romeo and Juliet. Ville is a smoldering Romeo at the peak of his glam rockstar phase. A mysterious heavy coated woman plays Juliet, who meets her demise by drinking poison. The entire thing takes place in an ice cave and even members are shown freezing over. Just watching the video makes you shiver. With its cool imagery and Ville’s good looks, the video has since become iconic within the HIM fandom. It’s definitely a fan favorite and one that helped the band break into US mainstream charts. The only thing that bothered me was how uncomfortable the woman looked. She’s wearing a barbed wire outfit and it looks like she’s trying hard to keep it together. Aside from Ville’s eye shadow, it’s the most distracting thing in the video.

 

“Wicked Game” (UK Version) (2000)

The third, and best, video for “Wicked Game” finds Ville having the worst night of his life. Cold and wet from the rain, he’s convinced to warm up in a strip club. While he starts having a good time watching the dancer on stage, he gets his wallet stolen, his drink ruined, starts a fight, and ends up being kicked out of the club. The other HIM members play the role of a cheesy backup band complete in corny Elvis costumes. For some reason, the dancer always freaked me out. Maybe it’s because she looks like she’s made out of plastic. Otherwise, the clip is humorous and keeps your attention, unlike previous versions, making it one of HIM’s most memorable videos. It’s not their best, but at least it’s fun and doesn’t have cheesy Gothic elements.

“Right Here In My Arms” (2000)

As HIM found more success their videos improved, but they were still kind of rough as this clip shows. Here, the band is trapped in a mirrored box performing the song. Outside, one lucky lady watches the performance even though the band can’t see her. It’s a simple clip but is kind of cool with the box the band is encased in and the lights. Ville finally seems comfortable mugging for the camera but pulls off faces that are supposed to be sexy, yet end up looking funny. Behind him, the rest of the guys are still pulling their best rockstar impressions, tongues hanging out and all. This used to be my favorite HIM video for a while. I remember being jealous of the girl because she got to watch Ville in all his glory. I’ve gotten over it since then.

“When Love and Death Embrace” (1999)

HIM’s first few videos are rough, but at least they started to get it right for their third one directed by Mikko Pitkänen. It’s a straightforward clip; the band sits in what looks like an old hotel mixed with set piece shots and footage of people brooding. Nothing much happens, but its sophisticated tone and charm match the somber mood of the song. Plus, Ville does his best pouting for the camera leading to the start of his sex symbol status. The video’s gloomy vibe does match the sound of the band at this point: melancholy, dark, and gothic. Overall, the video isn’t that memorable, but it’s not terrible.

“Gone With the Sin” (2000)

This video is more Ville eye candy. The clip is just him walking through a beautiful landscape looking sullen and moody. He then comes upon some flowers and makes his way, barefoot, to a grave bearing the heartagram. He leaves the flowers while looking over the grave. Did I mention Ville is walking through the fields without a shirt on? There are actually two versions of this video. Both are pretty much the same except the US version features super bright, vivid colors while Ville himself is in black and white. It’s kind of a cool effect that reminds me of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” video. The Finnish version doesn’t have the blinding colors. Rather, the scenery is presented in all its glory. While the color dynamics are cool in the US version, the entire thing looks more beautiful and pleasant in the Finnish one. The video as a whole is nice even though nothing happens.

“Join Me in Death” (Version 1) (1999)

For a video with four different variants, the first three are very similar. The very first version features the band performing the track in a room filled with lasers. It’s kind of awkward as it’s clear Ville is supposed to be the focus. At this point, he doesn’t seem sure of what to do and starts pulling weird poses and even has a Mick Jagger thing going on. These attempts to look sexy are ruined by the overly pouty faces, glitter make up, and a choker that looks more like a neck brace. Since the song was used in the movie The Thirteenth Floor the remaining versions of this video mix in footage from the film, which features lasers. That makes a lot more sense now. Even worse the footage is so out of place. It’s hard to make the connection between the song and the movie. Still, the video isn’t as memorable or visually pleasing as the later clip.

“Poison Girl” (2000)

I’m not a fan of live performance videos. They’re overdone, lazy, and generic. It’s no different for this HIM clip. The video is pulled from various performances from their 2000 Berlin show. It features the band playing the song with plenty of eye candy shots of Ville pulling off his cheesy rockstar impression. There’s even a moment where he takes off his shirt followed by a shot of drooling girls in the crowd. The video doesn’t even feature a live version of the song. Rather, it’s the standard track played over live footage. Aside from some brief moments, the clip is pretty dull. And watching a young Ville’s rockstar behavior is kind of cringy. I’m sure back in the day I would’ve found these shots sexy. Now, they’re kind of awkward to sit through.

“Wicked Game” (1996) (German Version)

HIM’s first video is something you would dream up when you’re 15. So yeah, it’s pretty bad. That’s to be expected for any band trying to make a name for themselves. The amateur clip hits all the hard rock video clichés: headbanging, playing in the woods, sticking out your tongue and making devil horns, and random shots of a dog. It even has a sepia tint for that extra dose of “edgy.” Though it’s cheesy, it’s still kind of cute. The band doesn’t seem to take the video seriously. The only one trying to pretend they’re actually performing is the drummer, Gas Lipstick. Ville doesn’t even lip synch half the time. You can even see him in the background walking the dog as if he grew bored with video shenanigans. The band tried two more times to get the video right, improving with each attempt.

“Pretending” (2001)

If you get dizzy easily, best avoid this video. Either the band or director Kevin Godley wanted some sort of shtick to make the video memorable. What’s the result? A goofy mechanism that rocks the members back and forth. Instead of looking cool, the video is disorientating and not pleasant to watch. While the other guys rock gently, Ville is tossed violently back and forth while holding onto the mic stand for dear life. Because he comes in and out of frame so fast it starts to make your stomach turn. In the end, the video is memorable after all; I remember to avoid it because it makes me sick.

“Wicked Game” (1998)

Somehow HIM’s second attempt at this video is cheesier than the first. The clip finds the band playing outside yet again this time fighting against bad weather. Ville is bombarded with a diva fan looking uncomfortable while ladies clad in stereotypical Goth attire (dread falls, latex, black wings) look on from afar. Some ladies dance, Ville mugs for the camera, and gets close to the love interest. That’s about it. Rather than going cheap, the director, Markus Walter, went for a stereotypical “dark” mood, which ends up looking bad. At least in the first version, the band looked like they were having fun. Here, they look pretty miserable, especially Ville who is pelted with snow in the face and then soaked with rain by the end. Luckily, by the third time, the band finally got it right.

Be sure to come back next month where we’ll look at HIM’s videos from 2001 – 2005.

Playlist: Play It Again

Ever wonder why some artists feel the need to re-record their big hits? Sometimes it’s to record with a new lineup, other times it’s for legal reasons. But more often than not it feels like a cheap cash cow and is almost always a bad idea. While some bands have gotten away with re-recordings that aren’t terrible, they never live up to the original. Let’s take a listen to some of the best and worst re-recorded hit songs.

“Boys Don’t Cry” – The Cure

The Cure have a lot of notable songs in their lengthy catalog, but this is their most iconic. Taken from their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, the song received moderate praise upon original release. Over time, the single garnered more praise and acclaim quickly becoming a Cure staple. When Robert Smith revisited the band’s singles for their 1986 compilation cassette, Staring at the Beach, Smith and co-headed back into the studio to re-record the classic. Known as “New Voice New Mix” the new version sounds very similar to the original. The biggest difference is Smith’s mature and more playful vocal take. Though it doesn’t sound bad, it still doesn’t match the charm of the original. It seems the band knows this as the new version was only used for the companion video. Otherwise, it has not been officially released on subsequent Cure collections.

“Shout at the Devil” – Motley Crue

Normally, there is no reason why a band should re-record their songs, especially when they’re considered classics. Usually, it ends up a disaster. Sadly, this is the outcome of Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil 97.” The original is a staple of heavy metal and helped launched their career. It remains one of their best songs. In 1997, the band reunited with Vince Neil, who left 1992 and released their seventh album, Generation Swine. To celebrate Neil’s return the band decided to re-record the song. And it’s…weird. While the vocals are largely unchanged, the music sounds nothing like the original. It’s hard to even pick out the tracks’ notable riff. Is this supposed to be a heavy metal version? It’s like they wanted to prove how bad and edgy they were and this is the result. Best avoid this version at all costs.

“Ace of Spades” – Motorhead

If there’s one song that represents being a badass, heavy metal, and the awesomeness of Mr. Lemmy Kilmister, it’s “Ace of Spades.” It’s not only the band’s most well-known song, it’s often listed as one of the best songs ever. And with good reason. Everything about it from the iconic riff to Lemmy’s gruff vocals makes it kick ass. The song is pretty much perfect, so why mess with it? When Rockband wanted to use the song for their game, the band re-recorded it and branded it “Ace of Spades 08.” There’s nothing bad about it; it sounds pretty close to the original. But it’s just not the same. Hearing it you know something’s off and it’s a little disappointing. At least Motorhead didn’t try to rebrand the song, unlike the Crue boys.

“Every Day is Halloween” – Ministry

Ministry’s early work is spotty at best. Before they found their abrasive, brutal industrial sound they sounded more like a faceless new wave band. It wasn’t until this song that they began finding their sound. Though the band would have bigger hits later on, this song still played an important role for both the group and fans. It’s still considered a favorite in their catalog. But perhaps Al Jourgensen thought it wasn’t heavy enough. He “fixed” this by re-recording the song in 2010. This version sounds more in tune with later Ministry, but it also sounds like a mediocre cover. The grinding guitars, fast tempo, and new vocals suck out everything that made the original great. This just sounds like another boring metal song trying too hard to be edgy.

“Melt With You” – Modern English

Though Modern English found more success in the UK they’ll forever be known as the one-hit wonders who gave us this 80s classic in the States. Constant airplay on MTV and playing over the end credits of Valley Girl helped it become a hit. It eventually reached number 7 on Billboard’s Top Tracks chart. The band re-recorded the track for their 1990 album, Pillow Lips. While you can hear some slight vocal variations, the changes are minimal. The same can’t be said for the 2010 version of the song. Recorded for the I Melt With You soundtrack, this version is harrowing. It takes all the bouncy, fun nature out of the song. Instead, it sounds stark, dark, and haunting. The 1983 version is still superior, but there’s something oddly beautiful about the 2010 rendition.

“Missing You” – John Waite

John Waite has a notable career as the singer for Bad English and The Babys, but he’s best remembered for this 80s ballad. It’s a typical sappy song about getting over someone, but not really getting over them. It proved to be a major hit and topped the charts in several countries. He’s gone on to release other successful singles, but none as big as this. In 2007, he re-recorded the track with Allison Krauss for her album A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s not terrible. It’s okay at best. Krauss doesn’t sound horrible singing and Waite sounds pretty much the same. It’s a very vanilla rendition of the song that makes you wonder why it had to happen in the first place.

“In This Paradise”- London After Midnight

This track from LAM’s debut album, Selected Scenes from the End of the World, has a Gothic, mysterious nature with the tolling bells and Sean Brennan’s vampiric vibe. There’s a dark romanticism to it that’s alluring, yet mysterious. But the album received a limited release and as a result was reissued several times in the States and Europe. For the 2003 re-release, Brennan re-recorded various songs from the album, including this track. The most notable change is the better sound quality. It no longer sounds like the track is muffled. Brennan also tightens up his vocals and the instrumentation, though the dancing guitar riff found in the original is missing here. It’s actually a decent update but is still missing the tantalizing vibe of the original.

“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” – Wang Chung

This Wang Chung hit is one of those mindless pop songs from the 80s. You know it’s bad, but like it because it has a catchy, memorable hook. Whether or not you actually like it, you’ll be singing along with it. Besides, the song has a positive message: have fun tonight. Who can’t get behind that? At least listening to it is better than watching the nauseating video. The 2010 re-recorded version doesn’t change much, but there’s something missing. It doesn’t sound as upbeat and energetic as the original. It sounds like a Wang Chung cover band is performing instead. And they try to spice up the song with soulful backup singers, but it falls flat. The whole thing sounds deflated. So if you have to listen to the song, stick with the original. Just don’t ask what “everybody wang chung tonight” means. The band doesn’t know either.

“I Remember You Two” – Skid Row

Skid Row’s third single is a cut and dry power ballad. It has sappy lyrics, soothing acoustic guitars, and the “edgy” hard guitars meant to show you it’s not a cheesy love song even though it is. The band re-recorded the song in 2003 with new lead singer Johnny Solinger as “I Remember You Two.” Re-recording hit songs with a new singer is never a good idea. No matter how decent the singer is, it will never live up to the original. Sadly, this isn’t the only problem this version has. Rather than sticking with the power ballad formula, the band “update” it to be heavier giving a lame “punk rock” sound. This along with the over the top vocals make it sound like your dad’s cover band instead of Skid Row. This is why re-recording songs is almost always a bad idea.

“I Was Made for Lovin’ You” – KISS

Sometimes when a band changes its lineup, they feel it’s time to recapture the magic of classic hits with their “amazing” new members. Skid Row already showed us why this is a bad idea, yet bands keep doing it. Look to KISS’ Kiss Klassics, an entire album of re-recorded hits featuring their 2008 lineup of Paul Stanely, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer. All of their biggest hits are re-recorded with less enthusiasm and energy as before. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” shows you just how bad the album is. Not only does the whole thing sound unenthusiastic and boring, Stanely clearly can’t hit those high notes during the bridge. That wouldn’t be a problem if his attempt actually sounded good; it just sounds sad.

“Your Sweet 666” – HIM

Originally found on their debut album, this track was later re-recorded for their breakout LP, Razorblade Romance. Unlike many of the tracks here, the two versions are obviously different from one another. The original sounded like it came from the depths of Hell with Ville Valo’s deep vocals and the hard, distorted guitars. The later version is lighter in tone featuring more keys and fewer guitars in the mix overall. Rather than sounding heavy, this one has more of a traditional rock tone with a bit of glam mixed in. Though some fans prefer the new version, the first packs a heavier punch. With its Gothic nature, dark tones, and haunting vibe, the original stands out with its dramatic, Hellish vibe fitting in with HIM’s long-running themes of love and death. The latter version sounds like another typical rock song and isn’t as exciting as the original.

“I’m Your Man” – Wham!

Wham’s 1985 single proved to be another hit for the duo and one of their last before their split in 1986. Just like their other singles, this one is upbeat and fun, making you want to dance as soon as you hear the bouncy beat. It also has a killer hook of “baby/I’m your man” that you can’t help but sing out. It’s one of those typical fun 80s songs that puts you in a good mood. When it was time for a Wham! greatest hits album in 1996, George Michael decided to update the hit with an R&B spin. And it’s…something. The sound is completely different with elements of funk, rap, and R&B. Hearing hype men shout “who da man” at the beginning leaves you scratching your head. The whole thing sounds like a cover from the Backstreet Boys. Rather than breathing new life into the song, it’s a sad attempt at trying to be relevant.

“Paradise City” – Slash

This is another sad attempt of trying to update a classic. With Slash and Axl Rose not on speaking terms, Slash decided to release his debut solo album in 2010. The previous year, he released the single “Sahara,” which featured this GNR classic as the b-side. You can’t fault Slash for wanting to reinvent one of the band’s biggest hits – he’s part of the reason the why the song is so popular. But you would think he’d enlist a viable rock singer for vocals. Instead, he recruits Fergie and Cypress Hill. Why? is the only thing you’ll ask yourself when hearing this terrible rendition. This is one case where rap and rock don’t get along. And when was the last time Cypress Hill were relevant? Fergie’s screeching in the background just makes matters worse. It’s not worth sitting through this crap to hear Slash’s killer licks. Just stick with the original.

Which re-recorded hits did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Saying Goodbye to HIM

HIM announced they’re done. No more albums or new music. I guess it’s a breakup but I hate thinking about it that way. “Breakup” is such a negative term. There’s no bad blood here. Rather, they felt it’s time to move on. Part of me is sad, but I’m also happy for the band. Music is overwrought with bands who probably should’ve called it quits a long time ago *cough* Queen *cough.* In our minds we never want our favorite musicians to stop making music, but there’s a point where it gets sad. New material doesn’t hit you the same way or they keep writing the same songs. Suddenly, their tour stops are a greatest hits package. It reeks of desperation. HIM could’ve kept going for another 10 years if they wanted. Instead, they’re going out on their own terms. And I respect that.

When I heard the news, I was nowhere near tears like I was when The White Stripes broke up. But it still hit me hard. HIM has been with me for a long time. They don’t mean as much to me as The Cure or Green Day, but I still love them. They’ve brought me so much happiness with their music. They’re a band I would often forget how much I liked. I wouldn’t listen to them for months and when I finally did, I’d go on a binge trying to soak up every melancholy thought and note.

What I loved about their music is how they made melancholy and darkness seem okay. Frontman Ville Valo even made it sexy with his sultry vocals. Many of their songs talk about love and death, but it never made you sad or depressed. Instead, it was comforting. They showed that it’s okay to embrace these feelings sometimes.

I also liked their songs for their poetic nature. Sure, some of them are a bit over dramatic, but a good number of them are thought provoking and beautiful. Songs like “The Sacrament,” “Funeral of Hearts,” “For You,” and “When Love and Death Embrace” are downright gorgeous. They still impress me to this day. Songs like these helped me push myself as a writer. Their lyrics often influenced my writing, which I started getting serious about when I discovered them.

Like most fans, I was initially attracted to the band for Valo. No doubt about it, the man is sexy. Something about him is mysterious, which made him more attractive. He’s like the stereotypical new guy in town that’s brooding and spends a lot of time in coffee shops. Over time, I came to appreciate him as a singer. He’s got an impressive range; he sounds sweet and beautiful with the high notes and downright diabolic with his flourishing baritone. I’ve always liked his singing, but I really fell in love with it when I saw HIM live. They’re not the most energetic performers; they don’t dance around or anything like that. Yet, there’s such a fire and passion behind their live shows. They play as if it might be the last concert they’ll ever do. And Valo often has no trouble pulling off his vocal acrobatics in front of a crowd. Most importantly, their shows are fun. Hopefully, I can jam with them one more time before they leave.

The end of HIM is saying goodbye to an old friend. There are times we didn’t speak for a long while, but when we reconnected we picked up where we left off. They’re familiar and comforting, always there when I needed them. I’ll miss them, but at least I can visit them again with all the wonderful music they’ve given us in the span of 26 years. And I’ll never forget how I actually got to speak with Valo for an interview. He was every bit as charming and sweet. It was an honor to speak with someone I’d been following so long. I never thought I’d get the chance to speak with an artist I like so much. So, thank you, HIM, for letting me explore darkness with you and all the memories and fangirl crushes you gave me. I’m happy my friend convinced me to give you a listen 13 years ago.

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