Eavesdrop: Date Night With The Queen
The longest day of the year may have passed, but summer isn't giving up quite yet, and with the last few weeks of sun come the last summer anthems of the year. Whether it's German EDM or English Psychedelia, artists from all over the world and all over the genre spectrum have been putting out great music over the past two weeks, preserving the sunny-day vibes and keeping the party going for just a little longer.
Single Of The Week
Claptone – “Stronger”: House music has made a serious comeback, and every DJ trying to make their mark faces serious competition. Claptone, with his mysterious mask and cryptic social media presence, has never struggled to stand out, and his music delivers on the intrigue he has built up.
“Stronger” is smooth as silk, showcasing collaborator Ben Duffy's vocals in a burst of pop-synth that perfectly walks the line between radio-ready and club night essential. The lyrics are simplistic, but the transition from pulsing synth beats to funk-tinged guitar jams has you reaching for the repeat button anyway, and it's definitely the kind of track that grows on you the more you listen.
The music video goes on a similar journey, showing a head-over-heels preppy protagonist as he attempts to gain the approval of the goth next door. Each rejected remix marks another failed try, but the more she listens the more enamoured she becomes. In this case, it's because she's a vampire obsessed with drinking her admirer's blood, but “Stronger” will have you staying up all night to stay on the dance floor, which is far less nefarious.
Music Videos Of The Week
Let’s Eat Grandma – “It’s Not Just Me”: “It's Not Just Me” is another video that mixes the idyllic with the surreal, albeit in a far less supernatural way. At first glance, the psychedelic-pop duo's latest effort is accompanied by a dreamy home video detailing the perfect teenage summer getaway, but something is always slightly off.
The lo-fi vibe is compounded by blocky transitions that seem straight out of a nineties power point presentation, slicing each image into squares that jitter and twitch until the original picture is obscured. The girls are dancing on a sun-drenched beach, but they inexplicably jump onto the roof of their beach house, then jump just as quickly to an abandoned car park coated in rubble.
As is evident from their name, Let's Eat Grandma are no strangers to mixing the whimsical with the horrific, and that permeates every aspect of the song. The lyrics are about a romance, sure, but it's a relationship in which both people are toxic and unstable, and searching for someone else that reflects their own insecurity. The vocals and synths blend together and fade in and out like a pulse, and you're too busy dancing along to notice the shift from dream-like to nightmarish.
Father John Misty – “Date Night”: If the previous two tracks flirt with oddness, then Father John Misty's "Date Night" has been in a committed relationship to it for years. The song might be short, clocking in at a less-than-industry-standard two and a half minutes, but it packs so many strange visuals into its runtime that you'll no doubt be haunted by at least one of them for weeks.
With that said, there is a method to the madness. The technicolor 2D animations, which bleed and morph into each other in strange and vaguely unnerving ways, is an obvious homage to the late sixties and early seventies. “Date Night,” with its woodsy folk rock, laid-back tambourine charm and endearingly out-of-date slang, is clearly drawing inspiration from many of the same places.
So, if you enjoy watching hand-drawn alien superheroes carry home bags of groceries while texting and being levitated by flying shoes, then this is the video for you. Likewise, if you're a fan of terrifying ice-cream costumes complete with disconcertingly conspicuous live action mouths, then this video is definitely not to be missed. For everyone else though, it's a fun if slightly over-the-top reminder that not all music videos have to be live action...or make sense...or be suitable for children and those of a sensitive disposition.
Christine & The Queens – “Doesn’t Matter”: Sometimes, it's the most intimate videos that can have the broadest scope, and “Doesn't Matter” (also released as “Voleur de Soleil”) is intimate in more ways than one. On the one hand it is literally small scale: featuring one set and just two actors, one of whom is the singer herself. On the other, it features a contemporary dance duet that is literally intimate, running the gambit from playful and coy to heart-breaking and uncomfortable as the song progresses.
The duet is supposed to represent the eternal struggle between man and god, which is probably not your first thought when seeing an artsy couple dancing alone in an abandoned car park. Likewise, the song's grandiose themes are something you might easily miss on your first listen, even taking the French lyrics out of the equation.
The nihilistic conclusion the song comes to is wrapped in layers of bounce-along beats and glass-fragile harmonies, enticing you in to listen and listen and listen until the full weight of the track's meaning crashes down on top of you. Are you in danger of an existential crisis after listening? 100%, but the song's so catchy that it's more than worth the risk.