Song: “Heaven’s on Fire,” by KISS
I can’t hold off any longer.
We have to talk about “Heaven’s on Fire.” As an intro, here is an actual email conversation that occurred between me and my best friend about this music video:
me: have you seen kiss’s music video for “heaven’s on fire”? because it is pretty much i think the only time a human being has self actualized on video
bff: i just saw the first three seconds and started giggling uncontrollably. how can i go on after this.
bff: no no no no no no no no what is going on
bff: holy shit holy shit when he actually points down when he says “heaven’s on fire.” i mean slayer named an album south of heaven but like … this … this is next level
bff: when i look back on my life it will be divided into two parts: the time before i watched this and the time after
me: eat it like a piece of cake
I don’t really know how best to describe the aesthetic of post-makeup KISS, other than Paul Stanley achieving the pinnacle of his hierarchy of needs. It’s like one part David Lee Roth, one part aerobics class, one part the sort of fringed pants and pouts you see on three year old beauty pageant contestants forced into reality television.
The video opens with Paul Stanley’s hands on fire and a wail that establishes that we’re not seeking accuracy in lip synching for this project. That’s cool. As ever, Paul is magnificent. He knows true happiness. And Gene, he’s sort of accepting that music videos are not going to go away, so he’s trying to develop his own little persona.
I’m not really sure why it has to involve those pants, but screws fall out all the time. The world’s an imperfect place.
In fact, everyone’s really trying to get on the pep train that Paul’s conducting. Notice how Human Treasure Eric Carr gets all up in there, almost as if he has never met Paul and doesn’t realize that he is only allowed to share a frame with him for 1.4 seconds. Paul’s face goes from “haha this is fun” to “okay I’m done with you” at a speed anyone who has ever gone on a date will recognize.
Also, I really want to believe this is Denise from Road House:
At first glance, the concept is as old as time itself: a band singing and also demonstrating how desirable women find them, despite the fact that singing about heaven being on fire (especially with Gene emphatically pointing downward as though we could possibly miss the meaning) interspersed with shots of trysting suggests that, if anything, a trip to the doctor might be in order.
ANYHOW. It’s all singing and dancing and girls until 2:03. And then what follows is the 7 most bizarre consecutive seconds in a music video that begins with Paul’s hands possibly melting, involves Gene wearing pants with thigh cutouts that I will never unsee and also punching under his own chin a lot?, an elaborate mime of the lyric “eat it like a piece of cake,” Eric Carr wearing a dangling handcuff earring (on second thought, that’s not bizarre–it’s just boss), and the only appearance of Mark St. John, who the band seems to treat like the human equivalent of fetch, except they’re the ones trying to make him happen:
I have so many questions about these 7 seconds. Who is the guy on the bed? Why does the mask appear twice? Why does Paul look like he’s trying so hard to be casual? How come Eric Carr has to hide under the table? Are they all in the same room? Where can one get those snakeskin booties? Who is the guy on the bed?????
UPDATE: 2:17 AND HE’S STILL ON THE BED. IS HE A GHOST?
I can’t even fully parse Paul’s apparent confusion between miming breathing and miming a heartbeat or fully appreciate Eric Carr’s zebra print scarf because of this. “Heaven’s on Fire” is a universe in which such occurrences are commonplace.
It is possible Eyes Wide Shut is based on this video.
It ends with Paul Stanley jumping through a ring of fire, as though that can undo what we’ve just seen. As if it matters. As though we will ever be the same again.