The Julee Cruise story begins, as so many great “dream pop” stories do (see also The New Vinyl Villain Imaginary Compilation Album #54), with Ivo Watts-Russell refusing to license This Mortal Coil‘s version of “Song To The Siren”. On this occasion, the person seeking permission was director David Lynch, who wanted to use it in his 1986 movie Blue Velvet. Forced to find an alternative, he asked composer Angelo Badalamenti to come up with something to capture the same mood, and the result was “Mysteries of Love”, performed by the then unknown Julee Cruise.
If anything, “Mysteries of Love” was rather better-received than the actual movie and it led to Badalamenti and Lynch writing an entire album for Cruise. Floating Into The Night appeared in 1989, to generally positive reviews, and sold decently well off the back of Lynch’s cult following. It might have remained a one-off cult curio, however, but for what happened next: Twin Peaks. Teaming up with writer Mark Frost, Lynch adapted his cinematic style for television, creating a supernatural murder mystery that became one of the benchmark shows of its era, and once again Badalamenti was brought in to provide a suitably eerie musical accompaniment. The easy part was coming up with the show’s theme music – Badalamenti went back to Floating Into The Night and simply used the instrumental track from the song “Falling”. The original vocal version became a hit single, boosting sales of the Cruise LP (as well as the official Twin Peaks soundtrack, which included two other songs lifted from her album) and leading to a further Cruise-Badalamenti-Lynch album, 1993’s The Voice of Love.
Those collaborations remain Cruise’s best known work, but she’s been active on and off ever since. There are only two further albums under her own name – The Art Of Being A Girl (2002) and My Secret Life with former Deee-Lite chap DJ Dimitry (2011) – but also a bewildering number of guest appearances and stray solo works, such as this R.E.M. cover from the 2002 “chillout” compilation HedKandi Winter Chill 06.02.
While it’s interesting to actually be able to make out the words, I think she doesn’t quite commit to it enough – there are moments (particularly at the end of verses) where she’s too obviously being influenced by Michael Stipe‘s delivery. The other problem is that at this tempo, it drags on too long – it could certainly stand to lose the superfluous chorus at 2:52.