What’s the best way to give song an image?
Do you weave a concrete visual tale, with a beginning and ending, into the storyline of your lyrics? Or do you create abstract images that represent the musical sounds on a more subconscious level? Perhaps somewhere in between?
All three styles go to work in the latest videos from Terry Edwards, Pillow Person, and Young and Heartless, and are coupled with equally diverse personas: the next heartbreaker in the teeny bop pop scene, an electropop synth wizard, and a sad and sensitive alternative rock band.
What unites them is a keen use of symbolism that doesn’t just portray their songs but actively enhances them—enough to keep them looping on the Rawckus playlist for days.
Terry Edwards – “My Name”
Terry Edwards is your quintessential pre-teen pop star, with rosy cheeks and a smile that lives up to the naive charm of his hooks. “My Name” is the perfect pop melody–catchy, romantic, and endlessly coy.
The video plays right into these themes, making use of all the staple symbols that a starry-eyed pop star should. Shots of a single red rose, a romantic dinner date, a majestic fountain under the night sky appear across the screen as Edwards sings about the sand in Spain and the London rain. But he laments, “she’ll never know my name” as we get shot after shot of Miss Love Interest running her fingers through her hair, gazing right over him with a blasé look on her face.
Of course, by the end, Edwards declares he’ll “make sure she knows my name.” Does he get the girl? You’ll have to watch to find out.
Pillow Person – “On Your Way”
Electropop isn’t exactly known for its transparency. Meaningless, repetitive lyrics are often paired with monotonous, stilted melodies, and music videos tend to rely completely on vague yet impactful imagery–textures, colors, lights, and shapes–to convey these sounds. Pillow Person, Hot Chip drummer Sarah Jones’s solo project, fits the mold well.
I’m not even sure that Jones herself knows why she made the artistic decisions in this video, but the visuals are arguably even catchier than the addictive ear candy that is “On Your Way.” The video reads as a two-parter, juxtaposing opposite aesthetics. The first half of the video is soft, cozy, and light, featuring pastels and smooth, creamy textures. The second half is dimmed, saturated, and downright dirty, featuring Jones covered in a gritty, rough substance that appears to be mud. She dances in jolting, repetitive movements the whole way through like a robot misfiring along with the metallic “unf unf unf” of the synth. Everything comes together to entrance all of your senses with a single beat.
Young and Heartless – “Misery on Misery”
Young and Heartless, from Hopeless Records, is an indie-alternative band bordering on nu-emo, if only for their lyrics. The video for “Misery on Misery” reflects this, matching the song’s bleak lyrics with a stripped-down composition. As we listen to the stroking of lone piano keys, we see neon boxes that serve as bare rooms, apart from a stray object like a violin or kerosene lamp, for a single inhabitant.
Identity-less bodies in skeleton masks wander their solo worlds, turning them upside down as if in a dream. A melancholy, breathy voice sings “What if you found out you’re an illusion caught in a body nobody cares for?” Trapped in windowless boxes, surrounded by dark and subdued by boredom, these faceless men find an escape in the video’s finale, when the words “open the blinds, your life deserves light” are sung. A new accessory appears in one of the rooms…but will it set them free?