Searching for something else on YouTube the other day, I was reminded of one of the most charming and delightful songs of the late 1990s. Thank goodness for all the “if you like that, you might like this too” work YouTube programmers do behind the scenes…
“Kiss Me” is one of the most romantic songs I’ve ever heard, but it’s a very innocent sort of romance, which I think is what makes the song so charming and delightful.
It’s the sort of romance you might have seen in Hollywood movies from the 1940s and 50s where you couldn’t even show a man and a women in a bedroom together…
After a good hour and a half of gentle comedy based on a guy being hopelessly in love with a girl who wasn’t interested in him…or the other way around…eventually the heroine realises he really is the guy for her after all. Under the moonlight, on a porch somewhere, she tells him how she feels and pulls him close for a brief, gentle and restrained kiss just before the titles run and the lights come up in the cinema.
I get the same feeling at the end of one of those movies as I get every time I hear Sixpence None The Richer sing “Kiss Me”. Both encapsulate the very nicest sort of romantic feelings, the innocence and freshness of a first kiss with someone special.
I always feel “Kiss Me” is a bit like “Casablanca” wrapped up in a song. Humphrey Bogart’s affection for Ingrid Bergman, whilst not complete altrusitic at first, and certainly not altruistic when they were in Paris together before the war, was demonstrated in the end at least as much by what he didn’t do as it was by what he did.
Or perhaps “Kiss Me” is like “Brief Encounter” wrapped up in a song…Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson enjoying cups of tea together in the sort of chaste and haughty way that only upper-middle class English people can behave, while the air around them on a train platform in England before the war crackled with their mutual unrequited desires.
That’s the sort of world “Kiss Me” transports me to immediately. I’m not sure it’s a world that’s ever existed, except in the minds of Hollywood screenwriters and Elstree Studios’ producers. But I’d like to imagine there was a time when the world really was a kinder and gentler place, so I’ll hang on to that imagery for now for the sake of my sanity, if not historical accuracy.
Music and lyrics for “Kiss me” were written by singer/songwriter Matt Slocum who, together with his long-term singing partner Leigh Nash, were active in, of all things, the Christian music scene, having originally met when they attended the same church in Texas.
Matt Slocum’s song would turn out to be a worldwide smash. It reached Number Two in the Billboard Hot 100 and went at least Top 5 in most other major markets. “Kiss Me” was the sixth best-selling record of 1999, according to Billboard magazine, and one of the all-time best-selling records never to reach Number One in the Billboard charts.
Any why wouldn’t it be with lyrics like these…
Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
Lead me out on the moonlit floor
Lift your open hand
Strike up the band
And make the fireflies dance
So kiss me
Just like “Casablanca” and “Brief Encounter”, the likes of which we’re unlikely to see again on the big screen, “Kiss Me” has lyrics the like of which we’re unlikely to hear again either.
I couldn’t imagine Drake or Chance The Rapper doing anything like it…which would be OK if it was just them, but I actually can’t think of anyone who could do a record like “Kiss Me” any more.
Hopefully its time will come again, and more songs like “Kiss Me” will get recorded, but I’d be lying if I said I was optimistic. When charming and delightful songs are seen just as “period pieces”, like the great films of yesteryear, we’ve all lost a little piece of our souls.
If you thought “Kiss Me” was just a charming song just to listen to, it becomes an order of magnitude more charming when accompanied by the video.
I say “the” video…there are multiple versions of the video for “Kiss Me” as the song was featured in the popular “Dawson’s Creek” TV show as well as being used as the title song for the 1999 hit movie, “She’s All That”.
Some versions of the video incorporate clips from the TV show or movie. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either the movie or TV-influenced videos, but for me they lack something of the charm and innocence of the original video.
Sadly the original video languishes on a couple hundred thousand views on YouTube as I write this against two other versions with 60 million and 41 million views respectively. All I can say is that’s over 100 million people who have missed out on a real treat.
The original video, labelled “Kiss Me (Official Paris Version)” on YouTube, was shot in Paris entirely in black and white. Its cinematographic approach draws heavily on the style of French film director Francois Truffaut and the video ends with a shot of a flower being placed on Truffaut’s grave.
It’s a very “art house” tribute to his work…not necessarily the sort of artistic tribute you’d normally see in a pop music video…which only adds further to the gentle charm of “Kiss Me”.
There are some who might say that the video is slightly pretentious and has little to do with the song or the lyrics themselves.
That might be partly true, but I take the view that the world would be a dark and soulless place if we couldn’t enjoy an art-house video celebration of a French film director’s work accompanying one of the most charming songs ever written from time to time.
And if that’s the sort of audio-visual experience you’re after, there’s no better place to find it than by having a quick listen to “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer, alongside the original Paris video…
The video is below or, if you prefer, you can enjoy the song on Spotify here… https://open.spotify.com/track/754kgU5rWscRTfvlsuEwFp
PS — just before we get to the video, if you enjoyed this article, please give it a “clap”…or even more than one if you’re feeling kind. You can also follow me on Medium (here) or Twitter (here) to get new articles as soon as they’re published.