This is a highlight of the Batman Forever soundtrack: U2 have cooked up a clamorous, darkly sensual ditty. These days it’s not enough for a movie to boast a high-profile cast or a hip director. To really generate juice, the film has to feature songs performed by artists who are guaranteed heavy rotation on MTV. The Batman Forever collection includes original tunes from some of the most drooled-over rock artists (PJ Harvey! Mazzy Star! Hip-hop’s Method Man!) of the moment. And U2’s contribution, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” stays true to the more adventurous direction their sound has taken during the past five years. In other words, classic-rock fascists who think that the band lost it after 1987’s The Joshua Tree won’t be cranking this one on their Walkmans.
For the rest of us, “Hold Me” is an invigorating summer treat — if not an instant gem. Co-produced by dance-music savant Nellee Hooper with Bono and the Edge, the single is less an exercise in techno funk than Prince’s “Batdance,” and it lacks those witty film sound bites. Still, it does rattle and hum seductively. The Edge layers his typically brilliant guitar shenanigans over the beat, stacking neopsychedelic purrs over crunching drones and caterwauling blasts.
Meanwhile, Bono wails and moans. His wacky spiritual and carnal imagery doesn’t spell out a concrete message, but it certainly appeals to the imagination. He sounds as hot and bothered as Jack Nicholson’s Joker after his acid bath — “You’re turning tricks with your crucifix.” The video possibilities are mind-boggling.