U2 VidWorks – Even Better Than the Real Thing (Fish Out of Water Remix)

A couple of years into U2’s 360 Tour, which would have placed it around the sixth leg of the tour, early in 2011, the show gradually morphed into an exercise in promotion for the twentieth anniversary of Achtung Baby. Part of this shift was demonstrated by opening the shows with a new remix of “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” called the “Fish Out of Water Remix.” The story goes that Bono, in particular, was very excited about this remix, and wanted to have the song released as a single to further promote the anniversary releases of Achtung Baby. To that end, a video was commissioned, and that video is what we are discussing today.
To be sure, this has to be one of the strangest videos in U2’s long and varied videography. The majority of the footage in the clip is of flies, shedding what I guess are their pupal stages and becoming adults. I’m not an entomologist, so this could be entirely CGI and not based in fact at all, but I should add that if you have a weak stomach, this might not be the video for you. The only reason I can come up with for this footage is as it relates to the song “The FLy,” and Bono’s persona of the same name. Still, this footage might have been better suited to a remix of that song, instead of “Even Better Than the Real Thing.” I don’t personally have a problem with it, but it does feel a little bit like art for art’s sake, which is to say that it might be a little too artsy. There is also footage of burning butterflies, played normally and also in reverse, so that it appears that the butterflies are being formed out of the flame, which I have to admit is kind of a cool image. There is also some interesting footage of a woman whose skull shows through her flesh at certain stages of the video. This is another interesting piece of footage, because the skull when it is visible, is sparkly, as though covered in diamond dust. It is a neat visual, but I am not too sure about what it means besides just looking good. Finally, there is some footage of U2 performing the song from the stage at the Glastonbury festival. I could have done with some more footage of the band performing their song, but perhaps the feeling was that that would have made it feel too much like any other music video. As it is, this video stays with me, mostly because it is so unique.
Following this video, U2 would take a couple of years off and not reappear again until the end of 2013 with “Ordinary Love,” their song for the Mandela biopic. The videos supporting that song are what we will be covering in our next post, so be sure to check back in next week if you are a fan of “Ordinary Love.” In the meantime, I would be thrilled to read your thoughts on what the video for this remix of “Even Better Than the Real Thing” means to you.

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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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