The Playboy Mansion

“It’s about when people mistake prosperity for peace, and for spiritual life.  That’s where we live, although I’m trying in the song not to be too condescending about it.”
– Bono, 1997.

In retrospect, it possibly should have been obvious that porn-soundtrack-cum-reggae guitar is a bit jarring up against lyrics calling for some form of societal rethink. Overall, “The Playboy Mansion” is one of those songs that’s more interesting than say, classic, compelling or brilliant. It’d essentially be a gospel number, but (quite a twist here) totally secular – no mention of God, Jesus, heaven etc. – instead replaced with a wholly consumerist ethic, an ironic idea of what modern society . And that’s actually where the song probably fails; no-one – at least, no-one I’d consider worth speaking to – would consider Gap or McDonald’s a complete replacement for Christianity. It’s a somewhat sweeping attitude that doesn’t really encourage any sort of thought.

Musically, though, a few interesting features are abound: the way a wah-inflected guitar passes over to a wah-inflected synth and back, making for a weird sort of change-but-continuity. There’s also a weird background moment from, I think, the line don’t know if I can hold on, in which it seems the song employs beats and drums. Madness.


~ by 4trak on April 22, 2008.

3 Responses to “The Playboy Mansion”

  1. Note: this posting now marks a song for every category. Wahey.

  2. Yahweh.

    You pretty much hit it spot on with the religious longing in the song and its “secular gospel” vibe…Pop in general seems to be some kind of concept album about the pursuit of a plastic, polished, media-created, attractive, wealthy, exciting lifestyle and losing one’s self in the process, ultimately becoming a sort of…advertisement or product, more than a person…the whole album’s synthy electronica vibe; its largely ironic lyrics; its title; even the Andy Warhol iconically-borrowed cover art (borrowing a pop cultural image which was already borrowing a pop culture image to begin with)… I can see why in retrospect people said they got too self-aware of themselves as rock stars in this phase of their career, but the whole album has a notably unnatural sound to it throughout that adds to the sense of illusion, and in the parts where the human side does breaks through the glossy seams, usually in quiet, dark corners like “…Velvet Dress” and “Wake Up dead Man”, this is some of their most underated material.

  3. just listened to the bootleg of my first ever U2 show on Saturday, as it was the 11 year anniversary – PopMart Salt Lake City. This is one that I wish they would have played live on the tour. My thoughts after hearing the concert again: POP is verrry underrated.

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