Song of the Week: “Clean” by Depeche Mode

Back in high school, my friend asked for Depeche Mode’s Strange Too for her birthday, a VHS collection of music videos directed by Anton Corbijn. The songs were from Violator, arguably one of the band’s best albums, if not the best.

We did a lot of things together that felt risqué. We watched disturbing films like Strange Days, wrote erotica for fun and compared notes. Sitting in her basement and watching the “Clean” video felt like the most illicit act of all. Repetitive and macabre, defiant and devotional, the song washed over Martin Gore and a pretty girl as they kissed. So much intimacy and then us, the intruders.

Years later, I saw Depeche in concert for the first time. When they performed “Clean,” I was overwhelmed by the moment—so perfect that I couldn’t possibly find a way to love it enough before it was over.

-Nicole Steinberg


Nicole Steinberg is the editor of the literary anthology Forgotten Borough: Writers Come to Terms with Queens (SUNY Press, 2011) and the author of Birds of Tokyo (Dancing Girl Press, 2011). In 2005, she founded Earshot, a NYC reading series. She currently lives in Philadelphia.

Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints? Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

See all Songs of the Week here.