The Cure

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!

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!

My Weekend with The Cure AKA The Cure in Chicago

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The Cure at UIC Pavilion June 10, 2016

When I saw The Cure for the first time at Riot Fest 2014, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. I finally witnessed one of my all time favorite bands right in front of my eyes. At the time I wasn’t convinced the band would tour properly again despite what Robert Smith said to the press. So I was stunned when a massive world tour was announced last year. I refreshed, refreshed, refreshed until tickets popped up. I was going to see The Cure again somehow. Initially, the shows felt like ages and ages away. Time somehow flew by and it was time for my Cure filled weekend. And it went even better than I could have ever imagined. I was lucky enough to attend both the Friday and Saturday shows each with their own charm and amazing setlist.

I was too impatient to sit through any other bands, so I skipped Twilight Sad on both nights. I imagine they’re pretty good, since I enjoyed their album, but I knew I couldn’t focus on them with The Cure being so close. After waiting in line for 30 minutes to buy a shirt, yes it took that long, me and my girlfriend found our seats. When the lights first went down on Friday night, my heart went into my stomach as the cheers got louder and louder. They came out one by one: Reeves Gabriel, Jason Cooper, Roger O’Donnell, Simon Gallup, and Robert Smith. I was so excited I couldn’t say anything as if it was my first time seeing them. Any nerves left as soon as they started playing.

Though both nights were amazing, Friday night will always be my favorite. There was the feeling of hearing songs for the first time, a stellar setlist, and having no expectations. I banned myself from looking at setlists from other shows, so I had no idea what they were going to do. Their first song of the night was “Shake Dog Shake.” It’s a staple of many of their shows by this point, but I was ecstatic to hear it since they didn’t play it during their Riot Fest set. It was an appropriate way to kick off the concert especially with the cool, flickering images behind them. But it was the next song that almost broke me. “Kyoto Song” is one of my all time favorite tracks, so I was stunned when I heard those opening bars. I’ve never cried at a concert, but I was damn close to it at that moment. Luckily, the tears never came.

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It seemed like Smith was in a Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me mood as they played “Like Cockatoos,” which some of the crowd didn’t seem to like, “The Perfect Girl,” and “All I Want,” where Smith forget most of the words. It wasn’t perfect, but it was still a treat to hear. They also went back earlier in their catalog for highlights “Primary” and “Charlotte Sometimes,” which has never been my favorite song, but I still loved hearing it live. I actually like the live version better than the recorded one. They even surprised me by playing songs “Want” and “Jupiter Crash” from what’s considered their least popular album Wild Mood Swings. Again, awesome to hear live even if the crowd around me didn’t think so.

But the biggest highlight of night one was the first encore. The stage went red and Robert walked up to the mic hold a spinning top. He turned it a couple time before the jarring riff of “The Top” rang out. My jaw dropped when I heard those opening notes. It’s one of the strongest, yet underrated tracks from The Top, so it was unbelievable to hear it live. Listening to Smith wail “please come back/please come back/all of you” gave me fucking chills. Right at that moment I knew something special was happening. They hadn’t played the song in a long time, 32 years in fact. Having them play it in Chicago for just one night made the concert that much more special. And I can’t believe I was there to see it.

Other amazing night one songs include “Exploding Boy,” which Robert introduced by saying “This is what is called the b-side,” “Never Enough,” “Give Me It,” “Doing the Unstuck,” “Friday I’m In Love,” and “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea.” Some of these songs I heard from their Riot Fest set, but hearing them properly on their own tour was a completely different experience. It was special; they weren’t trying to slay through the hits. Rather they mixed obvious favorites with some deep cuts for rabid Cure fans. With a total of 32 songs played it was an unforgettable night and I’m honored I was one of the lucky ones to attend.

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Night one was amazing, but The Cure didn’t disappoint with night two. Right from the beginning the band let you know you were in for something different as their opening song was “Out of This World” from the underrated album Bloodflowers. Surprisingly, this night’s set had other songs from the album including “The Last Day of Summer,” “39,” and “Bloodflowers.” Some of the crowd didn’t seem happy about the choices. I’m not even very familiar with the album only listening to it three times, but considering these are songs they haven’t done in a long time it was another rare treat.

Going to see a band twice in a row, hell even twice on the same tour, can be risky. Will they change things up or is it going to be the same setlist? Luckily, The Cure played almost an entirely different set. As expected, there were some staples like “Pictures of You,” “Lullaby,” “Close to Me,” and “Why Can’t I Be You?” but they didn’t necessarily play them in the same order. And some songs were so infectious that I didn’t mind hearing them again. I had just as much fun hearing “The Walk” on Saturday night as a I did on Friday night. They also played “A Night Like This” and “Fascination Street” on both nights, which got the entire arena singing along. It was awesome to hear a sold-out venue sing songs back at Robert Smith, just thinking about how may people adore this band.

Other highlights include “High,” “The End of the World,” “Closedown,” and “The Caterpillar.” The band also performed two new songs “It Can Never Be the Same” and “Step Into the Light,” which they debuted at the start of the tour. My first impressions? I like them a lot. The first song was kind of slow and beautiful, like a lot of their ballads, while the second was more upbeat and catchy. I can’t wait to hear these songs on their new album (hopefully). New songs are tricky and I honestly didn’t think they’d play them that much on tour, but I’m glad I got to hear them. A song they performed both nights that I never expected to hear live was “Burn” from The Crow soundtrack. I was dumbfounded when Robert pulled out a pan flute and started playing sloppily. I almost didn’t know what was going on. Once I recognized what song they were doing I flipped. It’s one of those great Cure songs that too many don’t seem to talk about, so it was beyond amazing to hear it live. It’s definitely one of my favorite moments from both shows.

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The best moment of this night was when the lights went low, the stage turned green, the opening bard of “A Forest” rang out. All you could hear were cries of “YES!” from the crowd. It was fucking awesome to hear the song live where Smith held some notes, showing he still has powerful vocals. One of the best parts of the show is when the band turned the arena into a dance party. Everyone screamed and started dancing in the aisles when they played “Hot Hot Hot!!!” This has never been my favorite Cure song, but hearing it live is a completely different experience. Even Bob Smith look like he was having a good time while singing it. “Wrong Number” was also good fun to hear especially when Smith let out a huge “Hellllooooo!” near the end. Sadly, the band couldn’t play forever and ended both nights with the classic “Boys Don’t Cry.” Personally, I was hoping they would end with something else for night two, but I didn’t mind hearing it twice since it’s a fun song to dance to.

Though I was lucky enough to catch The Cure at their Riot Fest set, seeing them at their own show is a different experience entirely. For one thing they have more room to pull out deep cuts, which they did on each night. I was pleased how much they switched up the setlist each night making it feel like two completely different shows. No matter which night you went to, you were guaranteed a stellar performance. They sounded amazing on both nights. Right as the show started I got chills at how amazing Robert Smith still sounds. He sounded so good, there were times I was just grooving to the music I forgot the band were in front of me. Smith was also charming and playful pulling off his dance moves that made everyone cheer. He bantered with the crowd more on the first night where he talked about how he “speaks fucking clearly” and trying to find the balance between performing songs the band want to, but making sure the fans will enjoy it too. On night two, he walked around each corner of the stage to say goodbye and as the crowd waved and cheered he gestured his arm as if to say “Aw, shucks! Stop it!” As usual Simon Gallup was dancing and strutting his stuff. The best part was when he and Robert would play together in each other’s faces. These were two legends on stage having a blast! And like that The Cure were gone.

Both shows were amazing. Sure, they didn’t play songs I really wanted to hear, but I was ecstatic with all they played. The only bad thing about the show was UIC itself. Unlike the Cage the Elephant show, it had little to do with the sound. Instead it was the heat. On the weekend the band played it was really hot in Chicago. How did UIC treat this? By not turning on the air. I’m not sure if they did the first night, but they didn’t the second night, which may have been part of why the band only did 28 songs. By the end of the night, my clothes were soaked through. As I said last time I hope I never have to return to UIC Pavilion for another concert.

Despite this, both shows were absolutely amazing. I can honestly say they’re the best shows I’ve ever been to. Once it was over, it was hard to get back to reality and get back to work. How can you top a weekend like that? The Cure are amazing performers and are really pulling out all the stops on this tour. They’ve been doing so many deep cuts, rarities, and b-sides it made me wonder whether Smith would announce retirement at the end. Hopefully, the announcement will just be a new album. Whatever it is I’m more than happy I got to spend the weekend with The Cure. It’s something I’ll never forget and similar to the end of Riot Fest, something I want to experience again really soon.

Rank the Videos: The Cure 1992 – 2008

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.

“High” (1992)

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)

Freakshow” (2008)

“Sleep When I’m Dead” (2008)

“The Perfect Boy” (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.

“Gone!” (1996)

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!

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

I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Cure are 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 make up, 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 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)

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 are 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)

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 are 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)

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). Beside from 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 have 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.