Old Favourites: U2 – “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”

And now, another great guest blog from our good mate Jimmy Reilly! Take it away, sir!

“You don’t know how you got here, you just know you want out…”

I hate U2.  There are few bands on this planet that rate as highly on both my Pretentious Wank-o-meter and Wanton Shit-o-meter  as U2 do.  If aliens came to earth, and asked for the single most average, least spectacular example of our Earth music, I would hand them a copy of Everything You Can’t Leave Behind.  So, when I say this next sentence, understand where it’s coming from:  Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me is one of the best animated film clips ever.

Ok, full disclosure:  I am a shameless Batman fanboy.  Say what you like about Batman Forever, but I’ve never met anybody who has been able to claim the soundtrack was anything short of spectacular.  This song, as well as Seal’s Kiss From A Rose, was released as a single from that soundtrack to promote it, and both are much more fondly remembered.  In U2’s case, I’m betting that’s at least partially because of this clip.

There are two sections that take place during the song, which are seamlessly integrated together:  First there’s the boring and probably-mandated-by-the-studio best bits of the film, which probably works as a trailer, and the visually stunning animation portion, designed to look like a mid 90’s comic book.  When I say seamless, I mean exactly that.  There’s a great scene where the cartoon version of The Edge shatters a disco ball, suspended by a crane, which swings into an apartment as a wrecking ball.  It’s so very busy, and stylish.

The plot, if you can call it that, seems to be about Bono’s dual personalities fighting for control in Gotham City.  According to Wikipedia, they are called The Fly and Macphisto, essentially an egomaniacal jerk and Satan.  These guys were created for U2’s Zoo tour as a cosmic joke on the audience where Bono would either complain about being a rock star, or perform dickish prank phone calls.  Essentially, these guys are the villains.  Macphisto looks very similar to The Joker, so I guess that makes sense.  They prove their villainous intent by shooting The Batwing with their flamethrower guitars and being chased by it in one of the ugliest yellow flying cars I have ever seen.

That particular scene separates the two origin stories given about our two villains.  there.  First, The Fly literally descends from heaven as an angel, turning his halo into those trademark “Dick Shades”, and then Bono gets hit by a car (driven by Elvis, of course) while reading The Screwtape Letters.  When lighning strikes, he wakes up and he’s evil.  This was an obvious homage to the first Batman film.  After an orchestra filled entirely with Batman plays the ending refrain, Macphisto reveals himself to be Batman, and Macphisto, and Batman, and Macphisto, while Robin falls to his (presumed) death.

This film clip came out during a time when U2 were experimenting with multimedia and trying to be more adventurous as a band, between Achtung Baby and Zooropa when they were still mucking about with alternative rock and electronica.  Being that they look back at most of this stuff as an old shame, this film clip is sort of an alternative history for me.  If they had have continued in this vein, there’s a good chance I would hate them a lot less.

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