New Order, born from the depths of Manchester’s thriving arthouse world in the late-seventies, have always been very easily labelled as ‘cool’. It, therefore, remains a bit of a mystery as to why, for their 1993 music video for ‘Regret’, they chose to draft in Baywatch-era beach hunk David Hasselhoff.
The clip may originate at the request of the uber-cheesy BBC music stalwart Top of the Pops but the video is pure Los Angeles. The band are living their California nightmare in front of our very eyes. Watch the vintage video below.
The song would go on to be one of the band’s biggest records to date, reaching number 28 in the US (a career-high) and it was also New Order’s last top five single in the UK. It’s arguably one of their best songs and was “the last great New Order song,” according to the group’s bassist, Peter Hook.
That, however, doesn’t diminish the quite ludicrous video featuring the quartet and a red-trunked Hoff on a burning hot Malibu beach. But you can blame Top of the Pops for that one.
‘Regret’ was written for the band’s 1993 album Republic, which was largely written four years after Technique, so that they could help get their club, The Hacienda, out of yet another financial hole. So when the song’s success grew, the band were thrilled, especially when they heard the song would get further airplay on the music staple Top of the Pops.
Charting with a single would see bands invited to TOTP, at the BBC London studios, and dutifully perform a lacklustre lip-sync to rapturous yet humbly-canned applause. The tricky thing for New Order at the time was that they were in America touring the new album. Desperate to keep the singles flying off the shelves, they were encouraged by the producers at TOTP to perform an off-site rendition of the song incorporating some of the local surroundings.
The whirling cogs of the collective New Order brain began to motor on. They began brainstorming ideas, with more and more outlandish schemes being devised with every knocked-back light beer. What was the most ‘LA’ thing they could do?
At the time, back in 1993, there was only one choice that seemed the appropriate level of ridiculous to capture the imagination of the British public when thinking of California—Baywatch.
The TV show was an international hit at the time, pulling in vast audiences from across the globe, all intent on catching up with the beautiful lifeguards that populated its golden shores. It seemed to the band to be the perfect place for four pasty people from Manchester to perform their new track.
So what we get from the video is an array of Hollywood Americana. Bodies chiselled out of mahogany, thongs, golden sand, blue skies, and frisbees aplenty. The band standout like wonderfully Mancunian sore thumbs as they manage to put across their arthouse dance-rock in the middle of a SoCal beach.
Picture the scene: Peter Hook is gyrating in leather trousers (which may be our favourite moment of any music video) and Bernard Sumner lip-syncs with the kind of self-aware grimace that lets you know exactly how he feels. Meanwhile, Gillian Arnold has a bikini-clad girl at her feet talking on a landline—we’re in peak nineties mode here.
But wait, there is so much more nineties to cram in. While most of the Baywatch stars avoided the video (probably a smart idea), there was one man, a particularly musical man who made time to have a cameo in the video — star of the show, David Hasselhoff. The singer-actor took some time out of shooting Baywatch to appear in the video and make this the cultural mash-up we had always dreamed of.
Rumours of The Hoff asking the band for a musical appearance in the song, like playing the tambourine or singing back-up vocals, are largely unfounded, we love the idea of Hooky telling Hoff to “do one”.
Enjoy this incredible splicing of cultures as New Order welcome David Hasselhoff into their 1993 video for ‘Regret’. Yep, we imagine they do.