Image! It sears into our brains. Through photos, music videos, concerts, even MySpace profiles, image can taint the music we hear with content that’s prejudicial, contradictory, or merely distasteful. It stopped being about the music, man!
I don’t like the Thompson Twins, but is that only because I saw their hideous hairstyles and outfits in my youth? I like Howard Jones, and he looked just as bad. Only I didn’t know it then.
And what about Boston? Boston has seemingly thrived on radio alone; even their greatest hits album contains no images of the band. I honestly know nothing about Boston besides its spaceship. They may be the closest thing to a Platonic ideal of pure sound.
Up until a few months ago, I would have put New Order into this category. The only image I associated with the band featured nothing but four words. The group’s music (at least up until Substance) is golden. But their videos aren’t very good at all.
Take a look at the videos for “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “Blue Monday”. They are hodge-podges of 80s video art, scrambled and disorganized, completely unlike the insistent, rhythmic synthpop of the music. I never wanted to associate “Blue Monday” with a big gray dog, but there you go. Meanwhile “Bizarre Love Triangle” features grating video effects throbbing over top of Koyaanisqatsi-lite footage. It’s illness-inducing!
But the “Bizarre Love Triangle” video also features a curious cutaway to something that seems like a film clip. The music cuts out as two people argue about reincarnation and being “a real up person.” Internet clues suggest that this scene was created for the video.
If so, it’s the best thing about either song’s video, and it features no New Order music. These videos may have been ambitious, but I can’t reconcile them with the music I love. Images!