A modest 1970’s hit gets remade into a great spectacle by Grace Jones, Oscar Isaac, and Bahz Luhrman.
Last week we took a trip (heh) back into 1960’s drug culture with Grace Slick’s “White Rabbit”. This week, we return to drugs but this time as a metaphor for romantic love. Or at least where the drugs are both metaphor and literal.
British crooner Bryan Ferry formed Roxy Music in 1971, writing one of their biggest hits “Love Is The Drug” in 1975. While it peaked at number two on the charts in the UK, it never broke even the top 20 in the US. Its not a particularly iconic song, but its been covered a number of times over the years and made it to at least two major film soundtracks.
Here is the original in a televised performance where Ferry is in a pilot’s uniform and eye patch (can you legally fly an aircraft like that?) and the back up singers are in powder blue stewardess suits. And there are bubbles.
Are you impressed? I’m not. But wait…
Grace Jones (1980)
Its Grace Jones! The Jamaican-born supermodel had a huge impact on black representation in pop culture in the 1980’s and was an early pioneer of women who subverted traditional gender looks to great success. The song is improved by a slightly faster tempo and the video features some great geometric visuals that were popular in the era.
For extra fun, here is Grace in 2017 starting the song live with some orgasmic cries in body paint, a top hat, and neon lights. Never boring.
Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino (2011)
As far as I am aware, there is no reason to watch the film Sucker Punch in full. That said, the musical clips are especially enjoyable. Here Oscar Isaac, pre-Star Wars fame, performs the song as a sleazy night club emcee with a Jessica Rabbit type duet partner. If you were previously unfamiliar with Isaac’s dance moves, go rent Ex Machina right now. Never has disco been so threatening.
Sucker Punch soundtrack producers Marius de Vries and Tyler Bates also used last week’s song “White Rabbit”, performed by Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini, for the film.
Bryan Ferry Orchestra (2012)
This version of the song is really why I wanted to do this post. Like Sucker Punch, there’s no real reason to see Bahz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby except to catch pieces of the soundtrack with his sumptuous visual style. Performed by Bryan Ferry with a new accompaniment, this song mixes 1920’s jazz elements to create something I find uniquely haunting. Knowing the story that its attached to gives it a feeling of impending doom.
Ferry continues to perform the song in its original state even without Roxy Music but the show is much more tame. No more bubbles, stewardesses, or eye patches because I guess he realized he couldn’t do better than Grace Jones.