"Rock and roll started out as dance music, but somewhere along the way it lost its hips and became rhythmically simplistic."
Like A Video: The Sweetest Thing
July 25, 2013
[Ed. note: This is the 18th in a series of essays by the @U2 staff about U2-related visuals and videos. Some essays may be informational and educational, while others may be more personal.]
What is the best way to apologize to your spouse when you've done something wrong? Well, if you're Bono, you write a beautiful song for that person. And just to go that extra mile, you make an adorable video to accompany it.
As a song, "The Sweetest Thing" is just dripping with candy-coated lovely goodness (if that makes any sense at all to describe a song by a band as rocking as U2!). But the video also evokes this feeling as well. Your heart just can't help but smile and say, "Awwwww!"
Bono wrote the song for Ali as an apology for being in the studio on her birthday during the recording of The Joshua Tree. Ali agreed to be in the video if proceeds from the single went to her favorite charity, the Chernobyl Children's Project. I'm happy she did, because knowing she is in it makes the video all the more "sweet."
With a big white banner saying "I'M ... SORRY" hanging over Dublin's Fitzwilliam Place, Ali is already in for the carriage ride of her life. Her husband is wearing his heart on his sleeve and isn't afraid to show it. In fact, he even peeled a layer away from his famous persona. He isn't wearing his usual dark-tinted sunglasses like we're used to. His frames are clearer, as if we could see inside his soul. He isn't "rock star Bono." He is just a guy showing how much he adores his beloved. He isn't even singing to her, but rather letting the tape in the stereo do it for him.
Bono definitely went the fun route in this video. As he sings "My love she throws me like a rubber ball / But she won't catch me or break my fall," he does a little juggling ball motion with his hands and a cradle motion with his arms. Speaking of fun, is that Irish boy band Boyzone who just appeared behind Bono? It is! And while Bono might appear to be playing a "regular guy" in the video, he definitely called upon some famous friends to help him win Ali over. Suddenly, Bono appears to be sad again as it looks like Boyzone weren't too convincing. The camera pans over and, Edge and Adam are in a car with Larry at the wheel! Bono, looking pleased with himself, smiles but then gets concerned again.
An actual light bulb shines bright over his head (a clever touch, I must say), and Bono snaps his fingers. He's got it! He bends down and in the frame, marching down the street, comes the Artane Boys Band. Bono comes back into frame as if to say, "Voila!" How could any woman not be flattered by an entire band playing for her down the street? I guess not Ali, because Bono seems defeated as a coach arrives behind him to cover him with a towel and give him a reassuring shoulder rub. He's down for the count, but refuses to be knocked out. Another cool mention goes to the mouth guard the coach puts in Bono's mouth that has the colors of the Irish flag on it. The coach points at Ali as if to say to Bono, "You got this, man! Fight for her! Don't give up, you only have one shot!" And just like that, Bono is back in.
Bono pulls his shirt away a little bit and shows some skin, as if revealing his true heart with no gimmicks. He moves closer into the camera, looking so sorry and begging for forgiveness. Such a touching moment ... wait, hold on. Are those male strippers dressed as firefighters grinding on top of a truck? Yes, that's totally what is going on right now. Bono is holding a stuffed puppy dog, trying to maintain his innocence and act unaware of the strippers behind him. Another "I'M REALLY SORRY" banner appears, as does Macnas, wearing their large-headed Achtung Baby-era caricatures of the band. The firetruck is still driving behind him and a truck with a string orchestra in the back drives on the side. Despite all of these random events going on all around him, Bono decides this is the moment.
"Blue-eyed boy meets a brown-eyed girl" plays as Bono removes his glasses and we see his crystal blue eyes looking honest and hopeful. He even looks like he just might cry. And he ... oh hey there, male strippers! Bono puts his glasses back on and looks up as "Baby's got blue skies up ahead" plays. A thin line of cloud forms an open heart in the evening Dublin sky while another banner that reads "I'M REALLY REALLY SORRY..." hangs overhead. The dance troupe Riverdance arrives and their feet seem to go to the beat of the "Du-du-du-du" of the lyrics from the song. At this point, Bono finally sings along to his own song, which I think truly shows his heart and soul.
Larry, Edge and Adam then come up behind Bono and sing too. I think it's funny that Larry is the one wearing the dark colored glasses instead of Bono! Bono takes off his glasses and he just looks so in love at the woman in front of him. Another random guest, a chef with a platter of food (played by Bono's brother Norman), comes up next to the car and Bono puts his head in his hand as if to say, "I was so close!" An elephant with "Sorry" across its face also walks on the street. Amid all of this madness and insanity, Bono sits back with his best friends behind him, with a forlorn look on his face that says, "Please?" Even the rest of U2 look to Ali as if to plead with her, "Forgive him, he really means it!" The song comes to a close, Bono removes his hat, and looks right at Ali and mouths, "I'm sorry."
It's the perfect ending to a funny and lighthearted Irish fairytale.
(c) @U2/Marino, 2013.