New Video Monday: Haley Bonar’s “Kismet Kill”

I’ll be honest. I am not a person who hated high school. In fact, I kind of loved it. I went to a small, tight-knit school that didn’t have an issue with smart kids (to a certain extent) or theater kids (as long as they were “normal”). I feel weird sitting next to friends who told me they hated their high school experiences. And with good reason! Being bullied or excluded is brutal, and I know that — although my high school wasn’t exactly tolerant — I’m very privileged to have been able to speak my mind and be myself, more or less. And I don’t think I’ll ever wish that I could go back to being in high school! My brain is more developed, I have deeper friendships. I’m getting closer to chipping away at who I might be, and it’s all very exciting. No, I don’t miss high school. But the feeling of being a ball of potential? The stability of knowing what each day is going to bring, but that it’s not going to be forever? I do miss those feelings.

In “Kismet Kill” (“kismet” meaning fate, a word I had to look up), Haley Bonar shows the worst of what my life could end up like. When the prom queen (I wasn’t a prom queen, but I had my own little sources of pride that no one but I will remember) wakes up, she’s in the post-apocalyptic world of banality. A cracked disco ball lying forlornly on the side of the road. Empty airports, empty parking garages, empty top floors of once-impressive buildings. Giving birth to a plastic doll (sometimes the apocalypse offers hilarity in its tragedy). Always stagnant in a world where you’re completely alone.

“Kismet Kill” strikes a chord in its almost overplayed dramatics, because sometimes being a grownup feels like a personal apocalypse. Every day I worry that this is the first day of the rest of my life (this? How can this be the first day?), my world is a little bit shaken. Sometimes, the gravity of growing up breaks us all.

You can watch the video for “Kismet Kill” on NPR’s First Watch. Bonar’s album, Impossible Dream, comes out on August 5.

Carson is a 23-year-old who discovered the joys of the Backstreet Boys two years ago, when she fell down a pink fur-lined rabbit hole into the world of pop. She has since taken it upon herself to make an exodus into the underbelly of the glitter-covered beast. You can find her Spotify account here and you can also find her on Tumblr

little mix is having a sleepover and we’re all invited

There is not a single member of Little Mix that I would not kill a man for. These four precious angels are so beautiful and talented and funny and they love each other so much! I had a dream the other night that Little Mix was in a fight and I woke up near tears, okay? They are just paragons of female friendship and/or secret love (song pt. II) and they are perfect. And now there is a video for “Hair” and it is just a big slumber party and Jesy’s eyes are so green and Perrie feeds Leigh-Anne pizza and I am so very alive.



What else is there to say? Silk shorts + crop top + unbuttoned silk shirt is definitely the only pajama ensemble anyone should ever wear again. Someday I hope Jade Thirlwall lovingly wraps a boa around my neck. That is all.

I’ve Had Enough: “Same Old Love” by Selena Gomez

You can watch the video here:

It’s always felt to me like pop stars live in a different world than my own. Taylor Swift exists in a sea of wristband lights and gold awards, their shininess dimmed only by the filter of a Polaroid. Katy Perry lives on top of cotton-candy clouds wearing bubblegum-colored wigs, eternally running through the sprinklers and sparklers of a summer night.

I see pop stars’ lives through a series of snapshots. A tweet about their most recent show. An interview. A performance at the VMAs. They seem to float above me,  their lives spooling past me like a fairytale. They’re beautiful and confident, and their worlds never mix with mine. They drive through shining cities in limousines, they put on their prettiest high heels and walk smiling into a crowd of photographers, they dance onstage in sparkly outfits before getting back into the limo to their hotel for the night. They are separate from me; their lives are separate from my own.

That’s why the video for Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” was so shocking to me the first time I watched it. In this video, Selena doesn’t play a character, and she doesn’t really even perform the song until the very end. No, in this video, it’s not Selena the Pop Star, but rather Selena the person whose job is to be a pop star. She’s in a limo wearing a silky black dress with perfectly blown-out hair, sure, but she’s looking out the window. She’s focused outward. She watches a mother and son leaving, finally leaving; she watches a young girl feed her fish, a guy shouting along to the radio in his car, a couple making out in front of the liquor store. She looks on in concern at a man sitting sadly on his fire escape, and she keeps thinking about all of them as she makes her way through a twisting, churning dancefloor, as she passes another couple with a small smile on her lips. She keeps thinking about all of them as she runs to the stage to perform under the bright lights and until those lights come up on her, that’s what’s in her mind. Them. She lives in our world. My world. Those people and their world (my world) are a part of her as she flips her hair around and puts her diamond-studded hand on her hip. There hasn’t been an interview, “intimate” magazine profile, or “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” segment that has been able to shake me of the romanticism I view celebrities with as much as this collection of images.

Here, then, in the space between a pop star and a person like me, that’s where the actual song comes in. “Same Old Love,” a song about changing the status quo because you just don’t believe in it anymore, because it hurts you too much. I’m so sick of that same old love/ That shit it tears me up/ I’m so sick of that same old love/ My body’s had enough. I can’t help but listen to these words and think of myself as an eleven-year-old girl, watching Taylor Swift videos and crying because I could never be as talented or beautiful. So sick of that same old love/ Feels like I’ve blown apart. Or when I was thirteen, trying to act all quiet and mysterious after watching Skins because I wanted to be aloof and cold and gorgeous like Effy. That same old love/ The kind that breaks your heart. Or, for that matter, when I was twelve and watched the “Who Says” video for the first time, devastated that I couldn’t look nearly as pretty without makeup on as Selena Gomez did. I’m so sick of that same old love/ my body’s had enough.

It doesn’t have to be a comparison. It doesn’t have to be that same old love, the one that comes with an ache and something to measure yourself against. With this four-minute clip, Selena Gomez has convinced me that she and everyone else in her business are not superior to me. Not even that different from me, really. I may be sitting here in a sweatshirt and jeans, and she may be on a stage in a flowing gown and diamond earrings, but she doesn’t float above me in her own parallel universe anymore. Underneath it all we’re both just girls looking out a window, wanting something more.


Asif Becher is a 16 year old recently discovered cat lady who lives in the desert. She is often asked to “chill” about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Taylor Swift, a suggestion she finds absolutely ridiculous. You can find her on Twitter and on tumblr.

Again, Forever: The Legend of Chavo Guerrero

The video for “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” came out today, and I cried about it. Of course I did.

I wrote about this song when it was first released, and if you haven’t read that I would like you to do so, honestly, because this song means a lot to me and what I wrote about it means a lot to me and I’m not going to say much more about it in the context of this video, so.

The thing here, the thing that made me cry, the thing that is so incredible, is just – to borrow a phrase from Corbin – human victory. Human victory. Imagine! Imagine: your hero keeps you alive, keeps your head above water, keeps you whole in some intangible but excruciatingly real way. Imagine writing something about that, that sharp core of fire within you that has sustained you for so long, an ode to that hero. Even knowing that they’ll never know what they mean to you, what they’ve done for you, putting that out into the universe nonetheless. Thanking them nonetheless; singing their song.

Now imagine that hero receiving your message and loving it. Calling you, telling you how much it means. That’s literally what happened to JD and it is not not my dream as I write these pieces. So I cried when I watched this video, because, like – the progression! The utter triumph! That is what this song is about, isn’t it, about overcoming, about the things that give you hope, that hold you up. Not only has John Darnielle survived but now he stands with his arm around his hero; now he stands with his arm around his friend. I said it before and I’ll say it again: sometimes the only thing you can do is to survive, to outlive, but look where it brings you. Look at this joy; look at this victory. It is so unexpected but it is so deserved, and it is such an incredible balm for my ragged soul. I am so glad that this happened. It gives me such joy and it gives me such hope, such faith in the fact that surviving is rewarded. I could go on but I’m trying to stay brief – JD deserves this, and so much more, and I am just so happy. I can’t imagine a more perfect video for this song; I can’t imagine a more perfect victory.

“You are the one that I adore”: Best Coast’s “Heaven Sent”


I was a late Best Coast convert, but I’ve been listening to “Heaven Sent,” the latest song from upcoming release California Nights, on repeat since it came out. The thing is, it isn’t a song with a lot of meat to it. It’s lean, it talks itself in circles. There are maybe like, twenty different words repeated in various configurations throughout the whole thing. (That’s an exaggeration. You get the point.) But goddamn, it’s good. It sounds like the late 90s-early 00s, sounds like Letters to Cleo, sounds like pout and anger and happiness all at once. It’s powerpop, pop punk, 90s alt girl band. And then there’s the video and it’s equally sparse and still somehow indulgent, just like the song itself. Flower petals and lens flares and red fingernails on guitars against a plain backdrop. The only problem is how much it makes me want to watch Josie and the Pussycats when I’ve got a night shift at work ahead of me.

First Impressions: Taylor Swift’s “Style”

Aly: First of all I just need to say, unequivocally, that I love Taylor Swift with all of my big dumb heart. I would watch her read a phonebook and I would watch a music video where she rode a horse for five straight minutes. I would watch one that was like that Lorde video where she just stares at the camera, are you kidding, I would kill for that one. I don’t care. Let me watch her do her nails. Let me watch her try on shoes. I don’t care. I love her.

That being said: my first and so far only reaction to the Style video was “Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” It made me feel the way that One Direction’s You and I video made me feel, which is to say, kind of bored. I feel like the director was like, “Let’s do this cool thing with a broken mirror and projections and stuff,” and I feel like it was probably really cool in theory, but in actuality I’m just bored. I feel like it didn’t fit the song; Style isn’t about brokenness, to me, or about fixing something. It’s accepting that things move in cycles, and people come and go throughout your life, and that sometimes, maybe, they circle back to you. I feel like there was so much potential there with what they did to say something, and I feel like they just didn’t. Like, look at Marina and the Diamonds’ video for Immortal. Same basic concept – the past is projected on the present; the future is unclear, but we will have the memory of us. Like, literally that could be the synopsis for Style. And yet Marina’s video makes me want to curl up in a ball and weep, and Taylor’s… doesn’t. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m not saying I want to weep. But I am saying that I want to feel something about it, and I didn’t.

I’m gonna watch it again, obviously, probably a million more times. And maybe I will get more out of it at that point. But my initial reaction is that this is not a Taylor video that is gonna go in my top 5, or even my top 10. I will give points for the excellently over-the-top Harry Styles necklace shots, and for the throwback walking-in-the-woods dress shots. But I look at that Polaroid, at the single art, and I wonder where that went, that fire. That good girl faith and a tight little skirt. That was the video I wanted.

Aria: I can’t drive. This is a thing that’s become very #about me, and defines my relationships with people as someone who’s a perpetual passenger. This means whoever I’m dating is always the one driving, so I’ve come to romanticize rides in cars. When I first heard “Style” I immediately recalled the movie “Drive,” just the Kavinsky-like pulsing electro beat, before any of the lyrics about driving, it felt like a driving song, like some kind of Escape From New York jangly pop version of a John Carpenter soundtrack. I loved it, it was my initial favorite on the album, and I’ve had my moments to it that probably shaped my expectations of the video. Driving through downtown with an ex I had one tornado of a relationship with, still do, blasting that song through open windows in December and kissing at every red light. I was wearing red lipstick, too, I mean, it was perfect. Just the other night my crush kissed me as I was bouncing in his passenger seat, singing along to this song. Always in cars. This song was made for car stereos and teenage-throwback makeouts. For the video I expected some similar visual adaptation to the movies it recalled in my mind, I wanted our proverbial Ryan Gosling possibly updated with a 20’s undercut to be taking us for a ride through a world that was all cool tones of blue and grey and red. And the driving sequences delivered in every aspect, honestly, but the rest of it confused me. Why are we at the ocean looking through a warm sepia instagram filter? Why is everything so soft and ethereal when this song is so sharp, I mean, galvanizing, even? It’s such a big song and the video is so wishy-washy. Why isn’t our James Dean daydream dressed like Snake Plissken touring Taylor through a dystopian future-world where everything has crumbled around them but they’ll still never go out of style? I guess I’ll never know. Instead I’m following around some melancholy lovers who frankly don’t exhibit even a fraction of the of chemistry I have with whoever I’m thinking about when I hear this song. I’m sorry, Taylor, but you can’t go all Stevie on a song that is way more Cyndi. You gotta go weirder, bigger. Maybe I’m being greedy, but I just wanted more.

Elisabeth: Tbh the Taylor Swift news I was way more excited about today was the announcement of her Vogue cover with Karlie Kloss. Um anyway idk this video is about images and about images as things that are seen and remembering as a particular kind of fractured sight which are all themes familiar to Taylor Swift and it’s nice to see those ideas expressed not just lyrically but also via her like, visual existence. The 1989 era has been very characterized so far not just by cohesiveness, but by interconnectedness and I actually think this video alludes really heavily to the thoughts and images posed in “Out of the Woods,” just as much as it takes images from “Style,” not just the paper airplane necklace and the literal woods but also the sort of looking at it now quality. Anyway Taylor Swift is a pop star about narrative and memory and image and this is a video about narrative and memory and image.

Kenzie: I keep trying to put the way I feel about this video into words, but it’s harder than I expected it to be. I don’t dislike it. Not by any means. It’s indulgent and hazy and all ethereal foggy gloom spook in a way that appeals to me (and which, for the record, I think would’ve suited “Wildest Dreams” perfectly). I’m just not convinced that these are the images that fit “Style,” by which I mean to say, this isn’t any one of the many videos I would’ve dream up for it. But then again, I’m not Taylor Swift, and if there’s one thing that she’s made abundantly clear, it’s that a lot of thought and effort goes into the presentation and artistic reality that is Taylor Swift, so who am I to question it really? I’m sure I’ll watch the video a million more times; maybe this time next week I’ll love it. Mostly I think it should’ve been Kristen Stewart playing opposite Taylor Swift. There’s a James Dean daydream I can get behind.

Sophia: “Style” opens and its pure heatwave, hazy glare the way you can see the summer sun as it flickers through your lowered eyelashes. “Style” opens and it is summer inside of Taylor Swift’s eyes and she’s gazing at the camera and laughing and close-up of her face, sharp and bright. Taylor and a beach and the boy inside of her head, Taylor tilting her head back, her profile beautiful, Taylor behind a pane of shattered glass. I have watched this video seven times and I still can’t parse how I feel about this, Taylor Swift encompassing forests and Taylor Swift captured in fragments of glass with her red red lips.

“Style” is about visual iconography but also about emotional iconography, right—you and me and the dress and the road and the nighttime, us as two separate bodies on a collision course, what it means to look that way and what it means to feel that way. The thing about iconography is that it’s most interesting when it breaks down. “You can’t keep your wild eyes on the road” and then the boy’s silhouette fading into the road itself, your bodies fading into one another and then into lightning, the lightning inside of you. They get closer to one another and what was silhouetted separation becomes Taylor Swift eating up the distance between them, “I said I’ve been there too a few times”. It’s not “all we are is skin and bone / trained to get along” and it knows that it’s not. Look, the boy becomes the road. The road becomes the boy, the boy has two different-colored eyes and you see those eyes immense and projected and silhouetted behind her. What that does is destabilize the iconography, you have to pay attention.  On Red, in “State of Grace” (which is my favorite song on Red) Taylor sings “just twin fire signs / four blue eyes” and I don’t care if that’s about Jake Gyllenhaal, honestly I don’t, I care that Taylor Swift vested so much energy into tension and symmetry then and purposefully invests it in asymmetry now.

This is a video about Taylor Swift, a bright sharp silhouette against the outside world, an icon—icon in the way that Taylor Swift is the most iconic version of herself in red lipstick, “that red lip classic thing that you like”. Taylor Swift’s eyes, immense, Taylor Swift’s red lips in a single shard of glass projected over and over on top of this boy and his face that we will all forget about. Taylor Swift. This is also a video, though, about the immense multiplicity of being a person, about the way sketching out an image of a self in sharp black lines doesn’t preclude you from containing multitudes. “I should just tell you to leave / cause I know exactly where it leads but—” as a statement not just about a boy but about navigating the inward iconography of personhood. I know exactly where it leads, but.

Tess: What I find endearing about the video for “Style” is that it has very little of it. This is like a ninth grader’s vision of dark glamour, only probably not, probably it’s worse than that, because I think ninth graders have gotten a lot more sophisticated and aesthetically aware than they were when I was hanging sparkly purple spiderweb from the halloween store across my ceiling in 2005 while listening to The Cure. It isn’t great. Taylor looks very beautiful. I don’t know why this man isn’t wearing a shirt. I watched it once before coffee and twice after two and texted my friend saying, “A lot of the video feels like the concept was “Twilight” but, like, “Twilight” if you misunderstood and hated Twilight.” I love Twilight. When he checks the rearview mirror and sees red-lipped good girl Taylor staring back it looks like she’s in the backseat, which is weird unless what we’re meant to understand that she’s a dead girl and he has no choice but to “take me home” because she’s haunting him forever and watching him take off his coat. That’s rad, but could have been made a little more textually clear, I think. Not all viewers can be as perceptive as I am. Really, though, the overblown goofiness of this whole thing, the way it colossally misses on being either cool or fun, by way of being weirdly self-serious in its performance of failed cool, is a relief to me. Taylor’s video track record consists almost exclusively of self-conscious dweebage. I love that! Taylor Swift’s entire vibe, the whole brand is just being loudly, actively, intently Taylor Swift (Best Best Friend Taylor Swift. Everybody’s Big Sister Taylor Swift. Bad Dancer Taylor Swift. Loves Cats Taylor Swift. And I Could Go On And On On And On And I Will Taylor Swift.) but it’s hard to translate that into a compelling visual work. Remember when she hired Stephen Colletti to be the dude in “White Horse”? Can you honestly tell me you have even once gotten through “I Knew You Were Trouble” without laughing that back of throat laugh where you’re embarrassed and you can’t tell if you should be hiding it or not, as if you’re watching this video sitting beside Taylor in her personal, best friends only home theater and not alone in your bedroom, because in your head that is sort of always the case? When the most iconic music video of your career is an adorable knockoff of the superior “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavinge that Kanye didn’t want you to get a VMA for, the chances that you’re destined to be a great auteur of the post TRL world are sort of slim. “Blank Space” was a glittering outlier, but I’m kind of glad we’re back to knock-kneed PTA mom Taylor producing a white wine spritzer video for a dry martini song. She’s got bell sleeves on here. There are weird close ups. It’s kinda “Stevie Nicks” in passing. “Stevie Nicks” like when you try on something with fringe or some kind of witchy mesh overlay at Forever 21 and you look at yourself in the finger-smudged mirror and go “wow, so Stevie Nicks,” to your best friend. That’s fine with me. I think that is nice and good like a mall pretzel shared by hands with glitter nails. I don’t mind any of this, but, I’ve seen the March cover of Vogue magazine so when I watch Taylor have her most explicitly sexy video moments with this topless character amid some Fifty Shades type lighting and just before a truly mortifying literal lightning strike, I keep finding that my heart is desperate to yell, “Nobody cares about this! Do you ever kiss Karlie?” What happened here? Did his repeatedly mentioned terrible driving send them to a bloody roadside demise? Do they live on now as well-groomed ghosts just as long as there are broken mirrors and fuzzy synth beats to hold their spirits to the Earth? Is that what ghoul girl Taylor in the white shorts is putting down here? Chill, me too.