EMMA GARLAND'S FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO - TEXT LUKE BATHER
Emma Garland is one of my favourite music writers, and she should be one of yours too. You can mostly find her informed, funny and effusive musings on music, culture and their wider reach on all manner of social issues over at Vice Magazine’s music blog Noisey, but her words also find their way onto Pitchfork, The Guardian and The Debrief. When Emma isn’t writing, she’s running Sad Girls Club, a female-fronted arts collective that recently released a limited cassette self-described as “Now 44 for Emos” (which could either be the best or worst thing ever depending on what you were up to in the early 00s, but if you don’t wanna hear King of Cats covering Vengaboys then you’re wrong. Go and sit quietly and reflect on how wrong you are. I’ll wait here.)
With all this in mind, I decided to pester Emma about what her favourite music video might be, knowing full well she’d be far too busy to answer. But she did it anyway. So I’ll let her take it from here…
EMMA GARLAND: This may well be the most depressing music video anybody has released since Sinead O'Connor's take on "Nothing Compares 2 U", but if you think about what makes it such a bleak watch you'll soon realise that it's because it holds a harrowingly clear mirror up to the state of modern pop. It shows us the ugly side of fame that we don't like to make eye contact with in fear of feeling complicit, which we totally are.
The song itself strikes an unsettling balance between a beautiful lullaby and a Ballardian nightmare. That's really not something you would have expected from Britney who, until then, we mostly associated with doing cool synchronised dance moves in a red latex jumpsuit. That's partly why Harmony Korine used it to soundtrack a hyper-violent montage in Spring Breakers; that film deals with the culture of surfaces, the dream-like neon haze of American consciousness, but there's also a subtext of darkness and violence that mirrors exactly what has been captured in "Everytime". I think "beautifully fucked up" is the phrase we're looking for.
it may not be one of Britney’s most uplifting videos, but it remains one of the most meaningful in mainstream pop history
Anyway, the video. Firstly, it's inspired by the cinematography of Leaving Las Vegas aka Nicolas Cage's most sincere, un-mockable performance of all time (apart from the bit where he refers to himself as a prickly pear). So that's a fucking win for starters. In terms of plot we see Britney hounded by paparazzi and fans while she's just trying to live her life, wear the shit out of that baseball cap, and complete the massive barny she's having with her boyfriend. When she finally secures some alone time in the tub, she starts bleeding from the head and drowns. In the hospital doctors fail to resuscitate her while a baby is born in the next room.
The whole thing is basically a heavy handed visual metaphor for Britney's own artistic and personal rebirth post-Timberlake and, in retrospect, it also did an eerily good job of foreshadowing the upcoming struggle with fame that led to "the shaved head years". It may not be one of Britney's most uplifting videos, but it remains one of the most meaningful in mainstream pop history. My favourite bit is when she's lying unconscious on a stretcher being packed into the ambulance and someone runs alongside it waving an autograph book and a pen. And the words of Chris Crocker endure still: LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE.
You can find Emma on twitter @emmaggarland
And Sad Girls Club @sadgirlsclvb