U2 Vidworks – Even Better Than the Real Thing, Version 2

In addition to the main video for “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” which we examined last week, there was a secondary video for the song that saw very little airplay. In fact, I have never seen it on MTV or any other channel that plays music videos…the only place that I have ever seen this video is on the Interference video cassette that was released late in 1992. The video is kind of a mess, with lots of quick cuts, still photos taken mostly from live concerts, words and images laid over the footage of the band, (including the names of the band members and lyrics from the song) lots of it shown too quickly to be decipherable. That might seem like it would be difficult to watch, but, considering the tour that this video was made in support of, I’m sure that it is exactly as the band wanted it. Remember that the ZooTV Tour was all about sensory overload caused by overexposure to the media, particularly television, so the intended effect of this video was probably to make viewers feel a little uncomfortable and unable to make out exactly what was going on. There are no great performances seen in this video, no interesting story to draw viewers in, just lots of fast and furious footage, designed to make it impossible to focus on any one thing. It is not my favorite video by U2, or even my favorite video of this song, but I get what they were going for, so I won’t denigrate the video too much.
The other video that I want to talk about this week is the video that was made for the Perfecto remix of “Even Better Than the Real Thing.” The first thing that stands out about this remix video is that it looks like it was great fun to make. There is a good deal of footage of belly dancers and in some other shots, the band members seem to be at a party. There are some cross-dressers (which makes sense, considering that this video was made for club-culture), and still more footage of the band members lit by what seems to be a strobe effect. I also believe that there is some footage from the “Mysterious Ways” video, shot in Morocco, used in this video. There is some short footage of some moving inkblot tests, otherwise known as Rorschach tests, and finally, there is some footage that we saw very briefly in the main video for the album version of this song of the band members surrounded by a swarm of people in black outfits with glow-in-the-dark writing. If it sounds like a real cobbled-together mish-mash of different ideas, then I am successfully describing the video. The only thing that makes sense in this particular video is that it is supposed to be a good time party song, which is perfectly appropriate for a club remix. To sum up, neither of these videos are great successes, but neither of them is absolutely terrible either. They both feel a bit like afterthoughts that were made at the last minute, but next week we will discuss something with a bit more meat on its bones.

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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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