U2 VidWorks: Desire

There is something special about the video for U2’s song “Desire.” I have long considered it to be the beginning of an era for the band, a time when they paid more attention to music videos than they had before. That’s not to say that it was the band’s first music video with any worth or value to it, as I really love some of the videos that preceded this, but it might be accurate to say that it feels to me like the first time the band treated a music video as a work of art on its own as opposed to something that was meant to simply promote the song in question. The video isn’t really about anything, but it is stylish enough and artistic enough to make up for that, and there are plenty of wonderful moments–too many to list, really–in this video. I shall attempt to cover some of the highlights below. To start off with, this video is full of all of the requisite shots of the band performing the song, but they are shot with a panache that gives an added layer of gravity to them. Take for instance the great looking black and white footage of the band as the song begins. Edge strums on the guitar, then we see Larry counting off four beats with his sticks to bring the rest of the band in and start the song. The footage is so professionally shot that it really draws the viewer in immediately, holding them captive until the song wraps up three minutes later. There are lots of interesting things going on in this video aside from the footage of the band performing, as well. Lots of footage of downtown Los Angeles, some of it featuring the band, some of it of the local citizens. There is a captivating sequence midway through the song, where we see someone, I think Bono, smacking a tambourine against the heel of their opposite hand, then a fast cut to a police officer’s boots, then back to the tambourine, and so on. I think that one of the things that makes this video so much fun to watch is the fast cuts and the momentum that the director keeps up throughout the entire video. There are lots of shots of speeding traffic and the like, which match the song in tempo and make the video feel like it is racing along at a great speed, too fast to turn away from. It should also be noted that perhaps for the first time, the band members look cool in this video. No more awful mullet hair-cuts or unforgivable trousers, these guys look like they deserve to be taken seriously.
For those of you who are interested, there is also an extended version of this video, with almost identical footage, set to the Hollywood remix of the song. I like the remix of this song, but if we are talking about videos, the original is the better of the two, in my opinion. If you disagree, I’d love to hear why…feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts on either of the videos for “Desire.”

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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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