Depeche Mode’s video roster for Sounds of the Universe just got more diverse and far, far stranger. First there was “Wrong”, a twisted suspense thriller, then there was “Peace”, a politically charged wartime drama, and now there’s “Hole to Feed”, which is… well, something else entirely. “Hole to Feed” is directed by Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Tom Goes to the Mayor fame. The video is a candy-colored exhibition of excess and eccentricity unlike anything previously seen in a Depeche mode video. It’s got a band of teens lipsynching the song, giant inflatable babies, and, oh yeah – french kissing, lots, and lots of french kissing.
Depending on your sensibilities the video might shock and appall, as is the case with most of Wareheim’s avant-garde comedy and videos. It’s easy for people to write the director (and his partner Tim Heidecker)’s work off as simply nonsense or shock humor, but there is a refined art to their madness that challenges viewers and garners a unique brand of humor. Over the past year, Wareheim has become a video director to watch out for. His first mainstream music video was for Bird and the Bee’s “Polite Dance Song”, which was soon followed by work for Ben Folds, MGMT, Phantom Planet, and Maroon 5. His video for Flying Lotus’ “Parisian Goldfish” was banned from all video hosting sites for being too risque, prompting a site to be made just so it could be shown. The video has since become an Internet sensation.
Wareheim’s videos have a number of reoccurring themes: exaggerated fashions, realistically unattractive or odd-looking people, teens or tweens, eye-burning animations, and strange dancing. Only a few of these elements show up in “Hole to Feed”. The band of stoic teenagers performing Depeche Mode’s song are reminiscent of the younger kids in Wareheim’s MGMT video for “The Youth”, dressed in some kind of hybrid between glam rock and rave so intense it would make early 90s TLC blush. It’s a kaleidoscope of neon, gaudy patters, and colors; one of the girls works her braces like a fashion statement to match her silver eyelashes, meanwhile the lead singer’s capacity to keep a stiff face while mouthing Dave Gahan’s vocals and dressed so absurdly is nothing short of impressive.
The video’s main spectacle is an epidemic of heated make-out sessions that spread throughout the concert crowd and beyond. This isn’t your average music video heavy petting – the song’s suggestively raunchy title “Hole to Feed” translates to some serious, at times even grotesque, displays of french kissing. It’s hilarious. What is french kissing? It’s two people’s taste organs lashing against each other. It’s ridiculous. What happens if you take it too far? What if the people who are french kissing aren’t sexy? The video upsets preconceived notions and unearths comedy gold. Wareheim’s videos are fueled by excess – excess color, excess sexuality – his previous video, Major Lazer’s “Pon de Floor”, which highlights the raunchy and controversial Jamaican dance style called “daggering,” is a perfect example of how intense things can get. Though certainly different, “Hole to Feed” shares these themes.
Does “Hole to Feed”‘s video go too far? Does it misrepresent Depeche Mode? Well, that’s not for me to say – you’ll just have to see it for yourself: