The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’ may be one of the finest moments in pop history; everything about the track is a masterclass in how to deliver a delicious anthem. The group’s appearance gives the impression of them being a goth juggernaut and perennial mopers. The reality, however, is most of their music is illuminating rather than dark and ‘Just Like Heaven’ is the purest example of their bright brilliance as Robert Smith’s isolated vocals prove.
Smith penned the song in 1987 and it featured on The Cure record Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, an album which helped their star ascend even further as the years of excellence started to pay off emphatically all over the world, and ‘Just Like Heaven’ played a crucial role. There’s so much to adore from the track, whether it’s Pearl Thompson or Robert Smith trading infectious licks or the divine choral lyrics that Smith delivers, it’s a pure piece of pop perfection.
The song’s heartfelt message and the lyrics that Smith lovingly wrote about his wife, Mary, can be frequently overlooked. However, there’s nowhere for this adoration to hide on the isolated vocal track and the sheer wholesomeness of ‘Just Like Heaven’ is a work of art.
The singer recalled to Blender: “In 1987, my wife Mary and I lived in a small two-bedroomed flat in Maida Vale in North London. The other room was my music room, Just about the only discipline I had in my life was self-imposed. I set myself a regime of writing 15 days a month, otherwise, I’d have just got up in the mid-afternoon and watched TV until the pubs opened, then gone out drinking.
“Although I didn’t realise it at the time, the structure is actually very similar to a song called ‘Another Girl Another Planet’ by The Only Ones, which I can still vividly remember hearing on the radio late at night in the mid-70s.” It’s one of the forgotten songs of the decade but is certainly well worth revisiting. “The main difference,” Smith continued, “is that as the song progressed, I introduced some different chord changes which give it that slightly melancholic feeling.”
Smith also said in the same interview Blender, “On one level, that’s what ‘Show me how you do that trick’ is about that, but on another, it’s about a seduction trick, from much later in my life. It was something that happened on Beachy Head, on the South Coast of England. The song’s about hyper-ventilating – kissing and fainting to the floor. Mary dances with me in the video because she was the girl, so it had to be her. The idea is that one night like that is worth a thousand hours of drudgery.“
The jangly guitar is faultless and gives the track that special mercurial touch but they aren’t what sells it. Smith’s passionate vocals are impossible to overlook on the isolated version, and after hearing it, you won’t hear the song the same again. You will respect how he injects ‘Just Like Heaven’ with an extra level of gravitas that puts it not only in the pantheon of great Cure songs but all-time love songs.