FFWDing to the Best Part: “Pictures of You,” The Cure (1990)

Without a doubt one of their worst videos, The Cure’s “Pictures of You,” from their 1989 album Disintegration, is by far one of their best songs. Epically emo, with a droning rhythm, and sentimental lyrics, it is the definitive Cure ballad. The lyrics are amorphous and unspecific enough that anyone who has felt heartache or loss can bleed along with Robert Smith as he whines, “If only I’d thought of the right words/I could have held on to your heart.”

The video is a strange one. Palm trees, snow, winter coats, and the making-of-a-video-within-the-video-idea make you wonder “Why?” With their caught-on-film Hard Day’s Night-type antics and Smith’s cringe-inducing smile, it feels like it should have been the backing video for 1992’s regrettable but (unfortunately) unforgettable “Friday I’m in Love.”

The Best Part comes at the 4:07 mark. The music swells with a strum of chimes as the chord progression goes from the monotonous A-D-A-D to A-B-C#-D. Those two chords in between seem to stretch out the emotional motif and, for one reason or another, the upward spiraling bass line gets me every time.



FFWDing to the Best Part: “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful,” Morrissey (1992)

Courtesy of new (and way-smarter-than-me) guest poster! thebookslinger08

Many of those who knew me in college would be surprised by my undying adoration of Morrissey. The mid-90s saw me chasing the image of Kurt Cobain: longer, unkempt (and often unwashed) hair, flannel shirts, and torn jeans. The image of my musical “integrity” would never allow me to embrace an artist like Morrissey with his silk shirts and perfectly quaffed ‘do.

Deep in the cockles of my heart, however, the Bard of Manchester moved me deeply. His melodic, proto-emo crooning spoke to a side of my young man’s angst I can only describe as melancholic. It was a more beautiful, refined, and poetic pain that counterbalanced the pure anger and nihilism of grunge.

A perfect song to exemplify my adoration is “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful” from his 1992 masterpiece Your Arsenal. It’s the song that begs the question: what is the opposite of schadenfreude? It’s a great song but the best part comes at the 2:01 mark as Morrissey breaks out into a series of “las” with a snarkiness that only he can muster. It makes you feel like you’re being embraced and taunted at the same time.