She’s done it again. It’s been three years since we last heard of her, and now she’s everywhere all over again. Adele is back, and the world is not the same anymore. That’s a testament to her unparalleled songwriting and singing abilities, of course. But if you bring her together with one of the biggest film phenomena of these recent years, namely Xavier Dolan, you’ve got yourself a party.
Dolan is my second favorite Canadian to master lo-to-no-budget (wink, Elliot). Dolan has a knack for giving us striking images. His first outing, I Killed My Mother, had a visibly low budget and still managed to showcase him as one of the most visually ambitious directors around -no matter the age, despite the fact that he was still in his late teens then. The dripping/lovemaking scene still gives me goosebumps in that first film still gives me goosebumps. Heartbeats gave us a woman in a wedding dress running in a forest in autumn. Laurence Anyways had this stellar ballroom sequence. Tom at the Farm spooked the hell out of us with the erotic, light-soaked dance in a barn. And Mommy… -I saw it a year ago and any superlative I can think of still remains too futile to express my awe at that film; and that one bit of magic he made during the Wonderwall sequence shows how masterfully he can play with music and film.
Dolan has become an indie darling and a fixture in the festival circuit (four of his films have been shown at Cannes, one in Venice). He has become a maker of pop culture himself, in no small part because of all the pop references with which he soaks his films. Dolan still finds himself bewildered at critics finding that he took inspiration from Herzog, Mankiewicz or whichever revered filmmaker, when he just wanted to emulate something he saw in Jumanji.
As if that wasn’t enough, he also directed the music video for Indochine’s College Boy last year. The black-and-white story of a victim of school bullying were so raw that the video got censored in France.
And now he’s paired his talents with Adele, the woman who can break the hearts of millions of people and come out with a bunch of Grammys, a deal to write a Bond theme song and an Oscar. Bring the two together, and stars collide -quite literally. What’s just happened to the Internet is a nerd’s fantasy, a pop dream and a global fix of hipsterism. (That sepia, anyone?) And of course, it has already got its inevitable mashup with the Lionel Richie song of the same name, thanks to the good people of the Internets.
Hello, blockbuster music video.
What’s fascinating about all this, is that the song has reached #1 in 102 countries on iTunes, and has become the most-watched song of the year on YouTube -and only half the views were mine, I swear. It’s already reached 200 million views and counting, peaking at 1.6 million per hour. Even the final Star Wars trailer (the mother, er… father of all contemporary pop culture events) which, in its best moments, reached a mere 1.2… Isn’t it funny how YouTube has changed our habits? We’re talking about the most-watched song of the year. As in, you don’t give a song a listen, you give it a watch.
Music and film are intertwined media: from the days when the soundtrack to silent films was whatever any guy who knew what a piano was could play, to the sprawling scores of Hollywood’s golden age and now when music is watched; it’s an epic love story unfolding its newest chapters. Many directors have made music videos, as an training ground, a trade or an exercise in style. And then some have returned to it as an art form, time and time again. The 80’s and the MTV generation have turned music videos into a genre of its own.
So before I switch to YouTube again and add a couple million views on this song, think about this: isn’t that one of the many signs that film is taking over our lives? It has for most of us at Raindance, and probably for you reading this. Aren’t you lucky that you’re passionate about the one medium that’s taking over the world?