Coldplay’s ‘Magic’

When I first heard “Magic” on the radio, it was like hearing an old Coldplay song. I quickly picked up the chorus, so I was singing along by the end of the first listen. Every time it came on the radio, I was surprised to hear it. I would think that it was strange that so many stations were playing an older Coldplay song so frequently. It took me probably about a dozen listens to realize that it is a new song. I really had to stop and think, telling myself I knew all the old Coldplay songs. Once I realized that Coldplay had released a new song – let alone a new song that sounded like pre-Mylo Xyloto – I was thrilled.

I think it can go without saying that I hate Mylo Xyloto. Just in case, though, I thought I would say it anyway. I HATE Mylo Xyloto. There, for a second time, to emphasize it. I Was extremely disappointed by that album. It was like Coldplay was trying to become something they aren’t. Chris Martin readily admits that he isn’t a great singer. What adds to the greatness of their songs is his imperfections. His voice adds emotions to the songs that would be lost without him. Mylo Xyloto was devoid of all of this. It was the album version of jumping the shark. Coldplay had given into the electronic, dance beat and auto-tuned voice. It just sounded too clean, too polished, and too flat.

“Magic” reminds listeners why Coldplay is different than any other band out there. It shows that no matter what the trends are, they will be true to what they want to do and make albums with jagged edges. The strong bass is still missing from the song, but they are getting back to their original sound. And they are proving that it is possible to succeed after the shark is behind them.

Despite my love for the song, the music video for “Magic” left me feeling a little out of place. I love the idea of an old-style silent film for the music video. Especially since the focus is on magicians. But the music video feels too light overall, even though it deals with a somewhat dark topic. This, however, may just be a side effect of the silent film style. They were, for the most part, lighthearted and fluffy. It is difficult to convey deep emotion, pain or sadness in that style.

What also turned me off from the music video is a connection to the book The Night Circus. The book focuses on two young magicians who are trained to battle each other by their mentors. They are meant to battle to the death, but they fall in love. The girl’s name is Celia, similar to this Cecile. The young man learns tricks to impress the girl and ultimately save her from their impending doom. Cecile’s husband brings to mind Celia’s calculated and emotionally distant father.

While I enjoyed the book and the imagery it created, the connection I made between it and this song took away some of the magic from the song – pun slightly intended. I always see Coldplay and their music as heartbreaking and beautiful, giving simplicity to some of the most complex emotions. And before I saw the music video, this is how I felt about “Magic.” With the music video and the subsequent relation to The Night Circus, it turned into a song about actual magic, which ironically I find quite unmagical. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find the song’s sparkle again.

That being said, I know this song would be incredible to hear live. Coldplay puts on one of the best concerts I’ve seen, and they would be able to give this song the ability to make time stand still.

‘Sleeping With a Friend’ by Neon Trees

This was one of those songs that made me constantly hit the repeat button when I first heard it. There is no denying that the song is extremely catchy. At the same time, though, it reminded me of another song – or another sound – that I couldn’t place. What added to my love for the song was the music video. Bright colors. Mismatched patterns. A suit with a hostess cake print. What more could I ask for?

Okay, there are two really great qualities about this song/music video. First, the song has such a strong ’90s dance/electro pop sound to it. This sound may not have epitomized the ’90s for most people, especially my contemporaries, but I grew up in dance classes. These electro pop dance remixes defined my life. It didn’t help that my friends and I never knew the names of the songs or who sang them…let alone what the songs were actually about. Nonetheless, every week we heard the same songs (hey there “I Do Both Jay and Jane” and Jamiroquai). And dance defined my life for ten years. So while boy bands and “girl power” reigned the mainstream of the decade, dance music was my ’90s. What “Sleeping Like a Dream” really brings to mind, though, is “Inner Smile” by Texas. I realize there isn’t a strong musical connection, but something about the two of them come together for me.

With this powerful pull to the ’90s electro-pop dance sound, Neon Trees then goes to the ’80s for their visuals. This is obviously the second great quality of the song/video. Borrowing for the ’80s isn’t really something new right now. The ’80s seem to be having a renaissance for some strange reason. Luckily, there is one major way the decade is doing better now: quality (that really does seem to be the word for this post). As we all know, the ’80s are looked to for tacky fashion, bright colors and over the top looks. Unfortunately for the ’80s, their video was not best equipped for capturing such high res life. Their music videos are grainy, and the image is always degraded. That makes the decade fall a little flat in retrospect.

In this resurgence, though, technology has caught up to the colors. As can be seen in this Neon Trees music video, the brightness and dizzying patterns are crystal clear, making them pack that much more punch for viewers. The images are crisp and sharp, highlighting what needs to given that “pop!” effect. This can most notably be seen when leader singer Tyler Glenn is superimposed over a rotating triangle – or pineapple – over a mint green background covered in blinking eyes. I mean, the ’80s would’ve killed for that clear view and those special effects!

While embracing these ’80s visuals and ’90s sound, Neon Trees also show how they are reinventing themselves. Remember when they came out with the song “Animal”? It’s easy to forget they are the same band. Their song and style have changed. Even looking to “Everybody Talks” we see a different Neon Trees. They started with a new millennium punk style that morphed into a 1950’s Grease, Rebel Without A Cause vibe. With this transition into the ’80s and 90’s style, it has taken over both their sound and look, giving the band a whole new feel. Just like with all of their different styles and songs, they’ve succeeded.

Right now, the big thing in entertainment is the sensory overload and shock factor. Neon Trees nails it with this video. From Glenn’s various suits to the constant scene changes, the screen is never still. Your eyes never have time to rest. Instead of falling victim to this new trend, Neon Trees is able to rise above it and showcase their own spin on the style.

Sidenote: I love their weird Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland combined with Wizard of Oz house that adorns their album cover. It does a great job capturing this psychedelic, fantastical vibe.

Nina Nesbitt’s ‘Selfies’

Oh, the selfie! What a defining characteristic of Generation Y. While the name seems pretty self explanatory, for those who haven’t grown up (or are still growing up) in this digital age, the selfie seems foreign…and stupid. At its core, a selfie is a picture one takes of his or her own self. With Instagram and its myriad of filters, it’s difficult to go a day without seeing one. It is also difficult to not look like a fool when taking a selfie in public. While Nina Nesbitt sings an upbeat and poppy song about the selfie, her words go deeper, discussing the selfishness behind the selfie.

Okay, so maybe selfishness is not the right word. Perhaps vanity is a better word. But the best way to describe a selfie is a need for recognition and love. Not a deep love. But that of a little heart icon that shows people have seen and enjoy your picture. Along with comments that tell us how pretty we are.

Selfies are a symptom of our generation, and Nesbitt points this out. With so many different social networking sites and the ability to be constantly connected to everyone we’ve ever met, there is a throbbing need to be reassured by our peers. In this need to be reassured is our desire to be constantly engaged and in communication with our friends. Nesbitt shows this by faking almost all of the selfies in the video. With backdrops, she can make it look like she is in Hawaii, Paris or Egypt. By cropping the picture, it looks like she is going out for the night. A caption and a filter add a layer of emotion.

I’ll post it up in black and white
With a depressing quote on my life
So that you see what I’m going through
Yea, this is desperation at its best

In a way, social networking and the Internet have made us more socially awkward. Yes, we can talk to anyone online and post anything we want, but we still have control over this. We can manipulate it to show who we want to be. When it comes to building lasting relationships and friendships, though, these barriers must be broken down, and Nesbitt points this out.

Guess I’m reaching out to be assured
All I wanted was to be adored
Now you’re telling me I’m vain, vain, vain
But you don’t feel my pain, pain, pain

With all this accessibility, it can become lonely. In order to get the validation needed, we turn to these social networking sites because that is what our world has become. The words of a close friend may not be enough. We need to know that multiple people – whether we care about them or not – adore us or perhaps are even envious of our life. That picture with a depressing quote will get questions from friends and acquaintances asking what is wrong, but many refuse to answer. We want the attention, but we don’t want to build a bond with all these people. It brings us those 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol guaranteed all of us.

At the end of her video, Nesbitt sheds light on what selfies, and social networking as a whole, true is. It is “the life we want to show you.” We may be able to connect with millions of people, but none know the true individual unless we show it. When it comes down to it, though, we are becoming the person and living the life we show. By selecting what we want to be available, we get to rewrite our life stories as they are happening.

Retro Wednesday: ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ by The Buggles

Music videos gained mainstream attention during the 1980s with the start of MTV, or Music Television. While we are accustomed to seeing various reality TV shows on MTV, it originally was created to promote and rank music videos. When MTV first went on the air in 1981, they chose a poignant song to start their first broadcast. Originally released in 1979, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles started the new music generation on MTV. Unbeknownst to both The Buggles and MTV, this song kicked off a fast rise of technology that has left both the video and radio stars hurting.

For those who saw the advent of MTV and music television, The Buggles sang of what everyone saw as the next age of the music industry. With videos now a major option for musicians, this would mean that the stars made famous by the radio would die away unless they adapted. The same happened when television first came into existence. Radio was around before its time, and soap operas and comedies and dramas all had their place on the radio. Rather than the family sitting down to watch their favorite show, they crowded around the radio to listen to it. Once television came around, these programs died away, and the stars of the radio days faded. It is no wonder that the same was predicted for music.

As this music video from The Buggles shows, though, there is no plot progression or story line to follow with songs. This is why radio has survived with music. Music videos can add something to the listening experience, but more often than not it does not fit with the lyrics at all. In “Video Killed The Radio Star,” viewers see the radio explode and come to life. A huge part of this video is the futuristic feel of it all. A quality of space travel and science fiction is added to it, making it seem that music videos is just another advance leading in this direction. They make it appear that it goes hand-in-hand with the ideas of flying cars and living on the moon.

It is an interesting story that is created, but they did not know the Internet would completely take over the way it has. Instead of turning to the television for music, people turn to digital downloads and a life of multitasking, never allowing for one thing to grasp your attention for long. A music video demands your full attention and rarely are you rewarded with a great short film. What makes music so great is that you don’t need to devote your eyes and ears to it, that it is possible to listen to it while doing something else.

This, however, does not prove The Buggles song wrong. The message is the same but applied to a different creation – the digital age. The digital revolution is killing both the radio and video stars. With the rise of the Internet, people expect movies, TV shows and music to all be free since the Internet is free. And it is possible to find most of this for free online. Adding to this is the fact that advertising is what drives television and radio. With the Internet, digital video recorders (DVR) and XM radio, no one wants to listen or watch advertising anymore. It can be skimmed over or averted altogether.

So while the future created in “Video Killed the Radio Star,” both lyrically and visually, have not come to fruition the way they saw, the future has surprisingly taken shape in a way that is killing most media sources, causing a major upheaval of the traditional way for the past 100 years.

Suggest-A-Song: ‘Hot Knife’ by Fiona Apple

For the first Suggest-A-Song review, we will be covering Fiona Apple’s “Hot Knife.” This addictive, repetitious song is the final track on her newest album “The Idler Wheel.” Both the song and video are rhythm-driven and simplistic, but when combined, they create a tribal song driven by physical and emotional needs.

The song starts with the slow rumble of a drum, which Apple is playing. There is something tribal yet militaristic about the sound. It sounds like the rowing hymn for an army sailing towards their enemy. Rather than to keep the oars in time, though, it is used to build both fear in the enemy and strength in the army. It is this break from a simple rhythm to keep time that brings the tribal feeling. Through this tribalistic sound, the sense of a ritual or ceremony is created, making this song the centerpiece of the ritual.

Once Apple begins singing, her words are repetitious. With only a couple of lines of lyrics, she repeats herself and creates rounds in different layers of the song. At the beginning, her words are very monotous and focused on the rhythm. Aside from the emphasis she places on the word “I’m,” the focus is on creating a cyclical sound.

If I’m butter, If I’m butter
If I’m butter then he’s a hot knife
He makes my heart a cinemascope screen
Showing the dancing bird of paradise

He excites me
Must be like the genesis of rhythm
I get feisty
Whenever I’m with him

The words fit with the ritualistic/tribalistic atmosphere Apple creates. Both the words and rhythm are driven by a sensual and physical craving. With him as the hot knife and her as the butter, he has the ability to make her melt. The feeling this creates empowers her. While the song first comes off as one driven purely my physical desires, it is more than a mating or fertility-type tribal song. Her third verse shows that this goes further to create a lasting bond.

I’m a hot knife, I’m a hot knife
I’m a hot knife, he’s a pat of butter
If I get a chance I’m gonna show him that
He’s never gonna need another, never need another

With these words, Apple shows that the roles can be reversed. Not only he is a hot knife for her, but she is also one for him. Both are driven towards each other by this physical desire, but this proves that they are all they need.

Instead of creating a visually complex video to compliment the verbal rounds, Apple and director Paul Thomas Anderson focus on illustrating these vocal intricacies. Splitting the screen multiple times, the different verses and harmonies sing against each other, battling in the frame for prominence. Continuing to keep the focus on the words, the video is almost completely devoid of color. Even when it is not shot in black and white, Apple and the other woman in the video are wearing black. They are dressed plainly with their hair pulled back into buns.

Nothing draws away from the complexity of the lyrics that are battling. When the screen is split between fives different shots, it is the first time the eye is challenged to take it all in, realizing that the verbal battle is also occuring on screen. At this same time all three verses come to a culmination as they all fight to be heard but none reach the forefront. The sounds meld together and rather than continuing to fight, they become a united sound. When this happens, the video goes back to a single shot, almost signifying this battle and tribalistic/ritualistic dance is happening in her mind.

‘Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film’ by Jay Z

Calling Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film” a music video does not seem right. It is not fair to what music videos truly are. At the same time, it is not fair to what Jay Z and director Mark Romanek created. As the last nomination for the Best Music Video Grammy award, it seems difficult, closer to impossible, to judge it against the other four. What Romanek and Jay Z created is closer to a mini music documentary than anything else.

The piece starts and ends with an interview with Jay Z. What he says is really honest and needed for the music industry. Music is an art, just like the pieces hanging in a gallery or a film on screen. Unlike every other form of art, though, there is little to no visual aspect to music. It is intangible. The closest it comes to a visual piece of art are the concerts that musicians have. Each performance is different than the last no matter what, even if they follow the same set list. Jay Z thinks that music needs to relate to its visual “cousins,” as he calls them. There is a relation between music and art – in his case, the art which hangs in galleries.

To incorporate this relation, the performance aspect of the video takes place at an art gallery in New York City. In a small, white room, he stands on a platform with people all around him. One by one, individuals come and sit on a bench in front of him. With the title of “Picasso Baby,” Jay Z raps and improvises with the inspiration each one brings. What Jay Z is doing is no longer just rapping or putting on a concert. He has transformed his work into spoken word art, riffing off of the life around him.

Luckily for him, the life around him is also very artistic. At the end, the major players in the video are featured, showing who they are and what they do. Some of the artists that he interacted with include: Jim Jarmusch (filmmaker), Judd Apatow (filmmaker), Adam Driver (actor), Jemima Kirke (actress), Marina Abramovic (artist), and Sandra Gering (art dealer). Surrounded by these and other performers, along with fans, Jay Z’s performance almost feels like an open mic night. As he riffs off of them, they riff off of him. Some interact with him, and others dance as he raps. It becomes a communal effort to make it the best piece of artwork possible.

While calling this a music video seems unjust, it is an experiment that tries to push the boundaries of what music and art are. It seems right that it also pushes the boundaries of the traditional idea of a music video. Unlike other videos that use visuals to supplement the music or to bring the music to life, this presents the visuals and music as linked. One could not be had without the other. Jay Z is not just presenting as his piece but as an idea for the future – a symbiotic relationship where the two need each other to continue.

Jack White’s “I’m Shakin'”

As one of the songs nominated for Best Music Video at the 56th Grammy Awards, I decided to see just what the Academy thought was worthy of receiving this title. Earlier this year, I reviewed three of the other videos also up for the award. These three were also nominated for MTV Video Music Awards this past summer. What exactly made this video stick out to the Academy that didn’t reach the MTV audience?

The main reason I see why this was not nominated for an MTV VMA is because the song is by Jack White. While he is a pretty well-known guitarist and musician, his music isn’t a top play on any current hits radio station. This fact is solidified even more by the fact that this video premiered in October 2012 and has less than 2.5 million views. The musician’s lack of hits on mainstream radio does not mean he isn’t worthy of an award. Nor does it mean he isn’t a great musician. He is an extremely skilled guitarist, and this video shows those skills.

At the same time, though, I do not think it is worthy of receiving the title of Best Music Video at the Grammys. In my mind it places a far fourth to the three I’ve already viewed. This music video focuses more on the sound than on the visuals. It is a band-off between two Jack White bands. Both bands are wearing a light blue and black, but one side emphasizes the black while the other empasizes the light blue. They are mirror images of each other. The colors looks great together and the mirroring effect is good visually.

In addition to these two bands is a couple. Starting out with just the guy dressed in light blue, he is joined by a girl dressed in black. When they enter the room, they straddle the divide between the black and light blue bands, visually merging the two. These dancers, specifically the man, almost act as the visual representation of the music. They bring the music – the beat and rhythm – into movement, showing what they look like to the eye.

What makes the video special and noticeable of needing a certain skill is this mirroring effect. A demand was placed on the video’s editor to put the same band in each shot twice. They had to react to each other, play off of each other and be in almost the same spots. This also required a watchful eye from the director and the continuity coordinator to make sure everything matched up perfectly.

Overall, the video seems simple. While it clearly took a lot of work in the filming and post-production process, it doesn’t engage the viewer much. I’ve never been a fan of music videos that just feature the band singing and playing their instruments, and this is what White presented. Even though he did it in a clever way, it isn’t a stand out that would come to mind when asked what the best music video of the year is.

‘Girls’ by The 1975

Back in September The 1975 released their first studio album. A month later their music video for “Girls” premiered. Unlike most of their previous music videos, “Girls” was not shot in black & white. A visual mark of the new British band has been their constant use of black and white. Their EP and album covers are all black & white. All their instagram photos are also black & white. And aside from the music video for the album version of “Sex,” all of their videos have been shot in black & white. Apparently the band received some backlash for their original color video and decided to comment on the fact throughout the “Girls” one.

At the beginning of the video, lead singer Matty Healy says that it all feels wrong. While this portion is shot in black & white, they are clearly arguing about the fact of color. Healy says it has to be in black & white, noting that this somehow makes them not a pop band. Sure, they aren’t a pop band. A few of their songs have entered the charts, and the band has become popular. But this does not make them a pop band. Especially when today’s pop music typically sounds drastically different than theirs. Healy blatantly states in a letter on their website, that this video is a fight back against the hate, showing that they will create what they want.

After the band’s argument with the record company, the video begins with the sound of a beer (or soda for the underage kids) can being opened. At this, the word “Girls” is spelt out in various different bright flowers. Despite the music video starting, the band continues to be displeased with the direction of the video. Healy looks disinterested and exasperated at various points. At times, he argues with the people behind the camera. This is all an act, as can be seen in Healy’s letter. They are showing what fans and others deem the proper response from the band. Their reactions are even more ridiculous against the bright backgrounds and smiling women.

What really makes the video something special, though, is its homage to the 1980s. If you listen through their entire album, their style is heavily influenced by 80s music. And this is just not the popular 80s music, but also the hidden gems from the decade. Due to this, many of their songs have an 80s sound and quality to it. That’s part of what makes their music so great. It takes a gritty urban lifestyle, combines it with styles from the 80s and sets it against a color-deprived backdrop. Even though color is added to this video, the true color comes from their lyrics and music.

As a contrast to the bright colors, the band continues to wear all black. While this is their normal style, it shows that they refuse to fit in and adjust to the demands. At the same time, it is another nod to the 1980s. On top of this, the random settings that have nothing to do with the song also is a tribute to the decade. A video that showcases both of these is Power Station‘s Some Like It Hot.” In that video, the band members are constantly in black and they seem to be randomly in a city and at other times in the desert. Not to mention that both settings look horribly fake.

On top of this, the girls are a nod to the decade. They have vacant expressions and are doing whatever they are told to do without a thought. It never truly looks like they are playing the instruments or driving a car. They are basically mannequins that can move. This isn’t the first time women have looked like this in a music video. Most recently, they appeared this way in the film Love Actually in the music video for “Christmas Is All Around.” But these girls were hinting at the same women that the 1975 are calling to mind – the works of Robert Palmer (who was a member of Power Station). Most notably seen in his videos for “Addicted to Love” (seen above) and “Simply Irrestible,” the girls of these videos feature bright red lipstick and no emotions. In “Addicted to Love” they make up Palmer’s apathetic band. In “Simply Irrestible” they appear to be lost. While Palmer brought these women to the screen, they were popularized in art also by Patrick Nagel. Nagel started his artwork in the 1970s, but his most famous piece is the cover of Duran Duran’s album Rio.

It is no coincidence that their sound and style draw heavily from the 1980s. Healy has said in an interview that 80s music has played a huge role in his life. He acknowledges that that there are references and clear influences from that decade in their work. With that in mind, their music video for “Girls” looks even better. It is a clear tribute to the decade that they crafted to make it echo that time while getting across their message of not conforming to what is popular.

Let’s not forget their lyrics! The music video is fantastic and has so much thought behind it, but the same goes for the words they write. My favorite from “Girls:”

I know you’re looking for salvation in the secular age
But, girl, I’m not your savior.

While such an upbeat and pop-like song, the lyrics are pretty damn good, hitting deeper than the bubble gum sound could ever imagine. And this line just gets me every time.

‘Danger Zone’ in Archer Season 5

With the new season of Archer upon us, it is only fitting to finally review the trailer for this new season. As fans of the FX show know, the title character Archer is notorious for saying “Danger Zone!” to Lana, one of the female characters that works at ISIS with him. For season five, the show adapted the famous song from Top Gun to create the new promo. Released in October 2013, the video creates an abridged shot-for-shot remake of the Kenny Loggins video.

The original video provides a recap of the movie Top Gun. As a music video for a theme song of a film, it is pretty straight forward. It obviously has the 1980’s written all over it, particularly through Loggins’s style. Throughout the montage of scenes from the movie, Loggins is shown in a poorly lit bedroom. The people behind Archer took this music video and cast their characters in the actors & singer’s spots.

Archer is obviously cast as Maverick with Lana stepping in as Charlie. Cyril Figgis takes the spot of Goose while Kenny Loggins is played by Doctor Krieger. For those who watch the show, the casting is perfect. And Archer gets to continue to be his cocky self.

Part of what makes this video so great is that Archer finally pays homage to the film and song that it references frequently. It is clear through Archer’s words and actions that he fancies himself to be a Maverick type. It is easy to believe that Archer would put himself in Cruise’s spot in any recreated version of the film. What makes the promo even better is the little hints to the show’s foundation throughout the video.

The first such hint is seen as Archer flies in the fighter jet. While in Top Gun Cruise’s helmet is emblazoned with “Maverick.” Instead, Archer’s ISIS code name, Duchess takes its place. The next glimpse into the show is when Figgis and Archer are receiving a new assignment from Malory. To Malory’s right is Cheryl sniffing glue. This is actually pretty normal for Cheryl. Fans wouldn’t be surprised if she went on to eat the glue. One of the last nods to the show comes near the end of the video. Archer is shirtless looking into a mirror with Malory staring at him disapprovingly. On each of Archer’s shoulders is a tattoo. One reads “Dicky” and the other reads “Seamus.” Archer got both of these tattoos in the show. Seamus is Archer’s potential son, and this infant child also sports a shoulder tattoo that reads “Archer.” Dicky is Woodhouse’s brother, and Archer got this during a wild vacation in Vegas with him.

What follows the entire video, though, is the relationship between Lana and Archer. The on-and-off couple are frequently in the relationship danger zone. This is usually what Archer means when he says the words to Lana, and she hates it. To see their love played out in this setting is an ideal fantasy for Archer. And as seen with the last seconds of the video, it is his fantasy. A drunk fantasy. Yet this final scene of the promo make it even better. Seeing Archer acting like a child, ordering Woodhouse to in another quarter is pure gold.

While this trailer revealed nothing that viewers are in store for this season, it does not matter. This adaptation of “Danger Zone” shows that Archer will be just as ridiculous and funny as always. There truly was no better way to get people prepared and excited for the new season. It also is great to watch repeatedly. And if more 80s’ inspired Archer is needed, just check out the show’s website. Archer can be seen in full Miami Vice glory.

‘Pieces’ by Andrew Belle

A friend of mine introduced me to Andrew Belle and his newest album, Black Bear, a couple months ago. When she sat me down to listen to his music, she played a live performance of his song “Pieces” from the album. Now, this friend has an amazing sound system hooked up to her laptop, so the song was blasting. Feeling his emotions and watching his expressions in the video got me hooked. While I got the album shortly afterwards, I continued to listen to only this song for so long. About a month ago I saw that Belle released a music video for the song but refused to watch it. I was afraid it would fall short of my expectations. Today, I finally broke down, and I can say the video does not disappoint.

When listening to the song, there is an ebb and flow to the rhythm and motion of the song. Belle’s voice comes in waves, but they aren’t crashing down on the listeners. Well, at least most of the time. There is a pain and yearning to his voice, but they are lapping at the shore of the song. At times there are light crashes, like when the drums first come in. Then there are the heavier crashes, like when the bass begins. While there is the ocean flow to the song, it builds up to a storm that culminates in the chorus. And just as quickly as the storm crashes on the beach, it slides away. There isn’t a sharpness to the changes even if they do seem sudden and a bit jarring at first. These feelings are continued in the music video.

The ebb and flow of the video comes from the switching between the action moving backwards and forwards. When the video begins, we follow sparks returning to their sparklers as two people make them dance in the air. After we see their reverse jumps down from an edge, the motion moves forwards. This back and forth continues through their adventure near a lake. Every time the action moves backwards, though, it slows down. This smooths the transitions between their motions. Just like a wave, their forward motion comes in at normal speed, but as it pulls back, it seems to move slower and take its time. Almost like a memory, these rewound moment are made to last longer.

In addition to this push and pull, “Pieces” plays with light and dark throughout the video. At the beginning, the scene is dark besides the sparklers. Then we are shown a moon-like spotlight in the upper left-hand corner that creates a silhouette of Belle’s face. When the two go to the lake, the sun is constantly being reflected off of the water, washing out the scene. While it is brighter than the scenes of Belle singing, there is that vintage-filter-feeling throughout. This emphasizes the memory quality to these scenes. Constrasting this, Belle is always cast in a dark light. He is either shadowed while singing or shown as a silhouette. Near the end when the sun is no longer creating a glare in the camera, the image becomes blurred. Rather than coming off as trying to hide something, it makes the motions softer. Like a dream and memory, it is loved and held onto, but there are aspects that cannot be grasped because they are washed out or fuzzy. There is nothing sharp or harsh about these scenes unlike the dark, shadowed shots of Belle.

At the end, the music video is just a bunch of pieces. We never get the full picture or story of what is happening. We can bring everything together and try to make the puzzle but some pieces are missing. Belle is able to bring his song to life through the video, showing the love that one can have for all of the pieces.

As a side note, I recommend those who like the song and video to check out the lyrics. While it is easy to pick up the beautiful chorus, the rest is just as enchanting.