Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekend Diversion: ‘Symphony’

Recently, I saw a music video that made me stop. It realised quickly there was a gay storyline, one that was uncommon in so many ways. That video, “Symphony” by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson, is above. I think the video is stunning.

Clean Bandit is a British electronic band that uses elements of classical and dance music, which has given their music style a lot of different names. I’d never heard of Clean Bandit (or Larsson either, for that matter) until I saw this video.

The Wikipedia entry gives a good description of the video, especially for those who don’t like music videos for whatever reason:
The song's music video was premiered the same day the song was released, on 17 March 2017. It was directed by Clean Bandit's members Grace Chatto and Jack Patterson and features Larsson in a glittery dress backed by Clean Bandit and an orchestra while an emotional story plays out. The video starts off with a young man riding his bike and cuts to a crash scene. The next scenes show two men together doing various activities. We see they are a couple and live together and one has been killed in an accident. The man who is alive is shown grieving and visiting the spots where he and his boyfriend used to go. He then begins to write music again as we find out he is a composer and his boyfriend was his inspiration. By the end, he has composed a beautiful symphony in his boyfriend's memory. The video ends with him looking out into the crowd while his deceased boyfriend looks on proudly.
The first time I saw the video, I was channel surfing and landed on the free-to-air music video channel, so I missed the very beginning, and the first scenes I saw were of the two men together. I’ve said many times that when I was younger, and at the start of the music video age, there was simply no such thing as positive pop culture portrayals of the realities of gay people’s lives. But in the USA, there certainly weren’t—and still rarely are—portrayals of black gay men. That made the video remarkable to me, even now.

This is the second time I’ve stumbled on positive gay portrayals on that music channel. The first time as about a year and half ago, when I saw a video by Troye Sivan. Mind you, I’ve also been exposed to a lot of other songs I like, too, but even now the ones with positive gay imagery still stand out for me.

Beyond what I might call personal cultural relevance, I also like the song—it’s a good pop song. I recently heard it playing in a shop I was in and sang along (in my head…). I've seen the video on that video music channel at least one more time, too, as well as several times on YouTube.

I don’t expect anything other than entertainment when I switch to that video channel. It’s nice when I’m pleasantly surprised by something, but it’s great when I also really like what’s surprised me. This was again one of those times.

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