Even as recently as twenty years ago, MTV and other music channels played a large role in helping to break new music and to make hits. Following the critical disaster of Pop, U2 went back to the drawing board and, as Bono phrased it on several occasions, reapplied for the job of best band in the world. The band had already tested the waters with a pair of videos and determined that audiences were hungry for new music from U2, and so everyone was primed and prepared for big things to happen when All That You Can’t Leave Behind was announced and the first single, the rapturous “Beautiful Day” began to receive some airplay in the late summer / early fall of 2000. Even before I had heard the song itself, I remember reading in a trade magazine that the new U2 song was giving critics and those given the opportunity to listen ahead of the rest of us goosebumps. Things were moving along nicely in U2’s plans to reconquer the world when MTV and VH1 premiered the new video on September eighth. To be perfectly honest, I had mixed feelings about the new video when I first viewed it. Bono’s new character, let’s call him the Mischief Man, did not capture my imagination the way Mr. Macphisto had, and there was too much footage of that kiss. Other than those quibbles, however, there were enough exciting elements in the video that it became a hit by the time the album was released in October. To start with, the sight of those airplanes flying around and directly over the band was positively breathtaking. That’s the first thing I always think of when I recall this video. Secondly, there is plenty of cool footage of Bono, in particular, posing for the camera in all his lunging, air-kicking, crotch-thrusting rock star glory. Another nice moment occurs at the very beginning of the song, when the clouds break and the sun comes shining through, backed by Edge’s shimmering guitar. I would be remiss here if I did not mention that this moment looks even better and more glorious than it ever did before in the remastered edition of the video that was released last year in conjunction with the band’s celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary. There is another great moment when the Mischief Man takes a bite out of a model’s apple and falls over backward, while the model watches, onto the luggage conveyor belt. Right after that, the video (and the song) kick into high gear with the band on the runway and the aforementioned airplanes. I could probably sum the video up by saying that the first half is a little ho-hum, but the second half is positively spectacular, signaling the return of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.
I should also mention here that in addition to the remastered video that was released last year, there was also a very interesting “making of” video that popped up on YouTube which is well worth your time to check out. We’ll be back next week with another installment of my exploratory series on U2’s promotional videos. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think of the video for “Beautiful Day,” and have a great week!
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