I was elated. I was depressed and confused. I got the heebie-jeebies. But mostly, I was just elated. And depressed and confused. I mean, how often is it, these days, that we hear Godley & Creme’s magnificent 1985 single “Cry” on the radio? And then to hear it in a commercial? And not just any commercial, but a commercial for, of all things, Grand Theft Auto IV. Seriously? WTF? “Cry” is without question one of the strangest, most beautiful and memorable songs to hit the American Top 40 in the 80s, a watery, undulating gem in which a man declares with naked vulnerability his partner’s utter lack of empathy – the singer echoes the trembly, lower-register guitar melody over chugging, migraine-throbbing bass-lines, rippling synthesizers and atmospheric vocal effects: You don’t know how to play the game and you cheat – you lie – you make me wanna cry.

This sort of artsy vulnerability is not the usual stuff of shoot-em-up video game soundtracks, and that may, in fact, be why it works so well in this commercial (I wonder if it’s used in the game itself as well? – is there anyone who actually plays video games who might enlighten me?). When set against the ad’s violent backdrop of urban decay, the song’s moodiness and emphatic lack of macho do much to heighten the game’s image as something more than just a cheap, macho thrill-ride. It gives the images on the screen a surprising (but intuitively understandable) undertow of despair – the kind of aura we’d sooner expect from an HBO drama than a video game franchise.

I admit, I’m no gamer – unless we’re talking about Pitfall or Qbert – but I have absorbed through some kind of media osmosis that since its debut, the Grand Theft Auto series has had the sort of genre-elevating (and even medium-elevating) effect on “shooter” video games that The Sopranos had on mob dramas (and TV dramas in general). The use of “Cry” in this ad alone seems – at least to this admittedly uninformed observer – to confirm such assertions. It’s a bewildering choice, and I wonder just how many people who really are into Grand Theft Auto have ever heard the song before – and if they’re hearing it for the first time in the context of this game, what do they think? (Anyone out there care to comment?)

Whatever gamers think of “Cry”, I can’t help but think the men who created it, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, are loving circumstances of the song’s rediscovery. Throughout the 70s, they were members of the British group 10cc, one of the wittiest, most sonically varied and experimental art rock conglomerates of the decade, responsible for the iconic six-minute MOR epic “I’m Not In Love”. By the late 70s, Godley & Creme splintered off to record their own projects, debuting as a duo with the gargantuan concept album Consequences, an indulgent environmental revenge fantasy built around the sound of a synthesizer they invented called the Gizmo.

Though Godley & Creme continued to consistently deliver new product to record stores well into the 80s, they found much greater success as pioneering music video directors, and their work on videos like Duran Duran’s “Girls On Film”, Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Two Tribes”, and the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” was instrumental in elevating the music video as an art form, and transforming MTV into something people might actually want to watch. Their own video for “Cry” borrowed the moody black-and-white Rembrandt lighting of “Every Breath You Take” for an endlessly morphing close-up portrait of a succession of lip-syncers on the verge of tears. The effect, which was groundbreaking at the time (it now appears a little crude from our CGI-enhanced vantage point), made for a video that was entrancing and moving is both its intimacy and simplicity. It’s no surprise sounds fresh almost 25 years later, and even less so that it’s found a new audience in such a quintessentially visual medium. It makes me want to go out and experience Grand Theft Auto IV myself.