In 2013, we were in much the same position as U2 fans as what we are in today. The band had been quiet for a few years, and there was much speculation about what the next step for U2 might be, or if there would be a next step at all. Thankfully, we recently learned that there are a few things cooking for U2 right now, just as there were 8 years ago. The first U2 release at the start of that stage of their career was the fantastic song “Ordinary Love,” from the soundtrack to the Mandela movie. The first video that accompanied this song was a first for our favorite band, a lyric video. When the video was first announced as such, I had no idea what a lyric video might be, but it really is just what it sounds like…a video that focuses on the song’s lyrics as opposed to a performance of the song or a story. The lyrics literally appear on the screen. This might seem like it has the potential to be overly simplistic, but the lyric video for “Ordinary Love” still has a lot going on to keep one’s interest.
The video starts out with previews of all of the locations that would be used in the video. There is a sidewalk, a brick wall, a chalkboard, and the walls of an elevator, among other locations. We then see a shot of someone’s hand writing a letter. It is easy to imagine that this could be Mandela’s wife writing to him when he was in prison, as he was for many years. The lyrics appear handwritten on the page, and later in the video, those same lyrics are redacted, blacked out, just as they might have been in those missives received by Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned. There is also a very brief cameo appearance by Bono himself.
A short while after the release of this lyric video, there was a second video put out with less focus on the lyrics and more visuals of the band members. The audio in this second video was a remix by Paul Epworth, and I have to admit that I don’t care for the remix nearly as much as I do the original version of the song. I do, however, think that the second video is great, equal to the lyric video and maybe even surpassing it. The second video is very similar to the first clip, with many of the same elements–words written or printed in the same locations and so on–but the whole band actually appears in this second video. They are mostly just standing there looking very cool, but there are also a few shots of the band members with their respective instruments, a short sequence of Edge playing the song’s solo, and several bits that show Bono singing.
“Ordinary Love” was the first step into a new cycle for U2, and it would be followed by another single, for the song “Invisible.” As you might guess, I will be writing about “Invisible” next week, so be sure to stop by if you like that video.
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