Video Review: Yeasayer's "Madder Red"
First off, Kristen Bell was great in Veronica Mars, a show that was killed by the same studio bullshit that kills all great television. After that, she was funny in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but pretty weak in Heroes (not her fault necessarily) and then she was in that shitty reworking of Three Coins in the Fountain. Now, though she stars in a primarily non-speaking role in Yeasayer's incredible video for the song "Madder Red." The song itself is the sweetest and most sentimentally beautiful song for Yeasayer in recent memory, but the story that the video tells portrays a deeper kind of love that may also be a bit of a joke.
The story goes that Bell has a pet/companion in the form of a grotesque fleshy blob with an arm above sticking out of its head that she loves very much. The opening is loaded with honest love, a demonstration of maternal compassion mixed with storybook romance. Then sadly, there's a sign that Bell's precious mass of flesh is coughing up blood. But, an actress has to work, so Bell goes out for an audition, leaving her mother to watch over her pet. And the pet begins to ooze greenish-yellow goo from its head, and the end times are clear. Cut to the vet, where the creature dies, despite a hearty attempt at CPR. Then Bell leaves the office with the creature in a box, her face streaming with tears and heartbreak. Followed by a pan up, and a Lion King invoking image of the blob smiling down at her from the clouds.
In summary, it sounds like a lot of terrible melodrama, but in contrast to Yeasayer's lyrics, and with the help of Bell's genuine acting it comes off real. The Lion King nod, though, is a sort of humorous saving grace that indicates it may be a joke. It's as good an ending as something like this might ask for, piling sincerity onto pathos. And that sincerity-meets-pathos just happens to be the core of the song's lyrics. "Madder Red" is a song about having wronged a love, having turned away too many times while trying to juggle compassion and self-centered motivation. Really, the song is like a letter of qualification saying, "I'm not going to love you like you want, and if that's not gonna work for you, break up with me. But, I'm really sorry about that." It's a lyrical dance of bullshit, all excuses, and placations. It's about not knowing what to say when you have to say something. And the ending refrain, "Please don't ask me why" is a kick in the teeth. Pleading for complications to go away without question, wanting water to flow under the bridge without understanding the path of the river. That the video can be read from both perspectives; the creature singing to Bell because of its imminent death, or Bell singing to the creature because she must go out for work and can't be home like she used to, is what makes the whole experience full, and a little more genius than joke.
You can watch the video via the Guardian.
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