Much like GeoCities was to the internet, these early videos are similarly chaotic, incoherent and nonsensical.
Barrel of a Gun (1997) Directed by Anton Corbijn
Gahan now sports a glammy look, which includes eyeliner and nail polish; the whole band is now wearing all black. The video is jittery, uncomfortable and creepy: for example, Gahan’s eyelids are painted as eyes, creating a strange disconnect. Not sure what the concept of the video is here, but the song is as powerful as the video is uncomfortable.
It’s No Good (1997) Directed by Anton Corbijn
A karaoke scene with dancing girls is a very cheesy setting for Gahan’s sequined suit. The video looks as if it were directed by Tarantino, with big characters, ‘70s clothes, a bear skin rug and wood-paneled walls. The spoofy nature of the video is in absolute contrast with the strength of the song; we can’t unwatch this but want to.
Home (1997) Directed by Steven Green
This is a very pretty video taking place in a hotel, with multiple sets of characters playing out human dramas. A bald man is featured prominently throughout the video–we’re to guess his role, as he sits next to people watching them threateningly. He dissipates into thin air by the end of the video.
Useless (1997) Directed by Anton Corbijn
Gahan has cleaned up his look and they take a weird orange car to the bottom of a mine, wherein they have guitars. There are lots of cuts and blurry foreground shots of Gahan with the band behind him in focus. Gore has cut off all his hair, making him look very severe; they aggressively size up the camera as Gahan smirk-yells at the camera. It’s fucking great.
Only When I Lose Myself (1998) Directed by Brian Griffin
A lot of smashed cars remind us of past video car-and-hammer drama. A woman stands in the road, and a half-flipped car is frozen in midair above her. A woman in a red mini dress flirts on a black Ferrari, undulating. The whole thing feels oddly surreal and dystopian; there are cars and spin-dancing, so this definitely fits in with some of the other videos.
(Note about the director: Griffin also worked with Elvis Costello.)
Dream On (2001) Directed by Stéphane Sednaoui
Gahan is driving the boys in a 1970s Lincoln through rainbow light with light chasers. We’re back in the desert of eastern California, but there are more tracers and color and wonder than is normal for a drive in this forsaken landscape. The video is kind of boring overall, sort of like the song–stripped down and repetitive.
(Note about the director: Sednaoui is a photographer, videographer, filmmaker and artist. He’s been featured in the New York Museum of Modern Art, Le Grand Palais in Paris and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. He’s made videos for Massive Attack, Bjork, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and U2.)
I Feel Loved (2001) Directed by John Hillcoat
Set in L.A. on a hot summer day, German shepherds are escorted by LAPD officers, threatening a woman just doing her business. The band is in a small club playing to a packed house, and the cops and dogs bust in on the place. By the end of the video, the dogs are licking hands and people are kissing the cops’ cheeks; DM’s magic transforms people into love machines, apparently.
(Note about the director: Hillcoat has worked with dozens of bands filming videos, including Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nick Cave, Muse and Placebo. He’s created nine full-length films as well, including The Road.)
Freelove (2001) Directed by John Hillcoat
An ‘80s Chevy Silverado runs by itself through the ghettos of New Orleans. Gahan is singing on a float; people throughout Louisiana are impressed. This is the first video that not everyone is a model; it feels hot and muggy and sweaty. Meh.
Goodnight Lovers (2002) Directed by John Hillcoat
Gahan now looks like Jeff Goldblum, and backup singers are projected behind him. This video is very boring. There’s nothing to the song either, soul sisters and soul brothers.
Enjoy the Silence ’04 (2004) Directed by Uwe Flade
An animated, cartoon version of an office scene is reminiscent of “Get Your War On.” The remix was done by Linkin Park, giving it a metal edge. There is a police-state overtone, as well as tentacle porn; there are projections of the band live on office computer monitors.
(Note about the director: Flade has worked with dozens of bands on their videos, many from his native Germany. The roster includes Rammstein, Apocalyptica and even a-ha.)