If you’re wondering what Depeche Mode has to do with the Academy Awards, the answer is: they don’t. Ah, but silence, that is another matter.
If you haven’t filled out your Oscar pools yet, take this to the bank: “The Artist” is going to win Best Picture. Not because it’s particularly the best film of the year – truth be told, the movies of 2011 are as weak a batch as we’ve seen in ages – but because it has a lot of things working in its favor, namely two captivating performances by the two leads Jean Dujardin (he’s this writer’s pick for Best Actor) and the lovely Berenice Bejo, but that’s not all. It has the advantage of being the one movie that is truly like no other nominee in any category – seriously, a black and white silent film in 2011, that takes balls of steel to make – and most importantly, it’s being distributed by the Weinstein Company, and if anyone can turn a film like this into an Oscar winner, it’s Harvey Scissorhands.
There is a great story surrounding the arrangement for “Enjoy the Silence,” which serves as the best argument anyone will ever need for why Alan Wilder was the most significant contributor to Depeche Mode’s success. (We even told him as much when we interviewed him in 2010.) As they were recording the tracks for their then-new album Violator – in a studio housed in rural Denmark – principal songwriter Martin Gore had turned in a tender ballad called “Enjoy the Silence” But they couldn’t get it off the ground; each time they tackled the track, it didn’t work. Finally, Wilder and producer Flood told the rest of the band to get out, hit the town and have some fun. We’ll figure this out. When the rest of the band came back, Wilder and Flood had taken Gore’s demo – which consisted of a vocal and a harmonium – and transformed it into a dance track. Immediately, the band realized that this was going to be massive. Flood got Gore to play that signature guitar line, and the rest was history, as “Enjoy the Silence” became the band’s biggest hit to date, hitting the Top 10 in eight countries.
For those who are curious to hear what Gore’s original version sounded like, check this out. Pretty, but holy cow, Gore should give Wilder a co-writing credit for his contributions.