‘Love’ on a Real Train: Jessie Ware and BenZel’s ’90s R&B Cover Is Reborn on the Subway
Silken take on Brownstone's 'If You Love Me' gets suitably steamy video
Unless you’re a perv, the subway ain’t sexy. On a certain level, though, more of us must be pervs than just the dirty old man who rode to work across from you this morning: Consider that scene from 1983’s Risky Business, where Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay get intimate on a deserted Chicago El train to the electronic pulse of, sublimely, Tangerine Dream’s “Love on a Real Train.” Now add director Haley Wollens’ steamy video for Jessie Ware and BenZel’s “If You Love Me” to the same list.
The song, a stunning, pillowy update of a 1994 R&B hit by Michael Jackson-affiliated L.A. vocal group Brownstone, surfaced earlier this month with a different visual focusing on Ware’s silhouette. According to the YouTube post, at least, BenZel consists of two Japanese teenagers who, having gone to New York through a foreign exchange program, “met in early 2012 through an online message board about ankle socks and quickly discovered they each had a profound appreciation for ’90s R&B and J. Dilla.” Yeah, we know. London electro-soul singer Ware, meanwhile, recently released her Essential debut album Devotion, after previously appearing on post-dubstep producer SBTRKT’s own debut LP.
Wollens, the new video’s director, has previously styled gifted rap dadaist Mykki Blanco, agit-pop provocateur M.I.A., and bubblegum noise-rockers Sleigh Bells, among others. This clip brings the song’s smoldering bump ‘n’ grind to the fore, with grittily shot footage of a blond-wigged, angel-winged woman pole-dancing in a subway car; there’s no nudity, but her short shorts and skimpy top might attract the wrong sort of attention from your boss. At the video’s end, the dancer dives backward into an above-ground pool. A baptism? The song, at least, has already been beautifully reborn. Forget about the pervs: As Built to Spill once correctly observed, there’s nothing wrong with love.