One of the expectations that people have of songs, especially those songs that portray a couple, is that there is chemistry between the couple. Chemistry is a funny thing, and sometimes people don’t have it to somewhat laughable and extreme levels. There are a variety of reasons for this obvious and lamentable lack of chemistry, and at times I have commented on songs where there is a severe mismatch between the chemistry that is being portrayed in the words of a song if one looks at the lyrics and the chemistry that exists in the music video between the singer(s) and others. A relatively recent song, I think, has done a good job at presenting a reasonable scenario for why this occurs in its music video, though, and it is a premise which presents the song in a different light than one might expect.
At first glance, it might be viewed as a negative that in the song “You,” there is no chemistry between gay baritone singer Troye Sivan and teenage female vocalist Tate McRae. To be sure, both of them sing lyrics that purport to be about a relationship, and the listener of the song may be forgiven for believing that the two are supposed to be singing about each other. Yet the music video portrays the two of them in the same way that the song appears to be, in that the two vocalists are singing and doing their jobs with producer Regard and have no particular interest in or chemistry with each other. The video presents this as a matter of design rather than a matter of incompetence or accident, portraying a fan hacking into all of their accounts and releasing and changing a music video to suit her own tastes and her own parasocial desires to relate to and even to control the group and how their music is released and portrayed.
This is an inventive premise, to be sure. If one reads the music video comments for the artists, or any musicians, it is easy to find people who wish that the singer was singing to them, even when for obvious reasons this is simply not going to happen. One of the apparent social purposes of pop music is to vocalize the longings and emotions of people in a way that is easy to relate to even if the artists themselves do not live lives that others can relate to and live in such a disordered way that cut them off from what is proper and natural for human beings to feel. This creates obvious difficulties. Artists can resent very easily what makes them popular and allows them to make a living but which does not represent their own personalities or longings or behavior. Studios and producers may put two people together because both of them are looking to have a successful song even is no other obvious reason why these two people in particular would make good music together. To acknowledge the parasocial bonds between producers and artists and between both and audiences is to say the quiet part out loud and to turn the dynamic that exists in the world of contemporary art into the presentation of a song. And there is something worthwhile in doing precisely that, although one hopes that it is not overused to become cliche. That which is interesting one time does not always stand up to repeated assays.