Queer Music Videos (Part Two- Feat. Courtney Act, Ria Mae & Hayley Kiyoko!)

Gold – Ria Mae

If you’re yet to hear Ria Mae’s music, let this song and music video be your introduction to a wonderful artist.  I was lucky enough to hear this song for the first time in a live setting when Ria supported Tegan and Sara on their 2017 UK tour.  As soon as I heard her voice I decided to book another gig ticket for a few days later, simply to go and see her live again (between herself and Alex Lahey, the support acts of Tegan and Sara’s last UK tour were unparalleled, the best supports I’ve seen and heard in a long time).  When I got home from the gig and watched the music video for Gold, I was excited to see an unapologetically queer narrative with gritty themes.  The themes and narrative are all beautifully compiled with a stunning light and shade within the alternating scenes within the video.  The chiaroscuro elements of darkness and light parallel the two contrasting, central queer women in the narrative in what feels like a short film.  I usually don’t buy into a narrative of drug use or implied/metaphorical drug use, however, the concept of ‘love as addictive’ within the lyrics is well-portrayed by the accompanying imagery and themes.  The ending of this video is what really sold it to me; it’s rare to find such a plot twist within the short length of a music video.  The ending is a warning that toxicity within relationships shouldn’t be encouraged or endured, including in queer and lesbian relationships.  This is notable, particularly when considering the multitude of problematic queer and lesbian relationships which are often portrayed in mainstream media.

Kaleidoscope – Courtney Act

I believe Courtney is pronoun indifferent so I will be using they/them/their pronouns throughout this piece, if anyone knows better regarding their pronouns please do let me know and I will amend this

If you, like me, are feeling a hint of warmth from the sun very occasionally in the bitterness of the spring air then you’ll be ready for a whole summer playlist and this song should be at the top.  This music video is stunning; it’s light and fluffy and sweet.  It’s a cotton candy and ice cream music video and I adore it.  Kaleidoscope is beautifully feminine in it’s camerawork and aesthetic, filled with light touches, tanned skin and sun-bleached hair.  Careful close-ups of gentle hands and faces, shot in slow motion, emphasise feminine intimacy.  Pale blues and yellows within the colour scheme compliment gorgeous beach scenery and make me reminisce about long-gone lazy summer days.  This video is also filled with really touching, well-created moments which feel genuine and affecting; every time I watch it I get that fuzzy feeling in my chest as though I’m the one who gets to frolic on a beach with a gorgeous girl.  Kaleidoscope contains one of my all-time favourite music video shots in the form of Courtney, stretching out their arms toward a perfectly blue ocean and sky beyond the beach in the Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 20.08.27foreground.  For me, this shot signifies freedom and ultimate, pure happiness.  The conclusion of the video sees two femmes walking away, hand in hand, into a sunny landscape and, quite frankly, I can’t think of a better way to conclude a music video.       

Feelings – Hayley Kiyoko

Out of all of Hayley Kiyoko’s iconically queer music videos, this one is my favourite by far.  From the moment I first watched it I fell in love with it’s ethereal, urban vibe.  The lighting, colour and composition of Hayley’s videos is unquestionably fantastic and has created a whole new benchmark for the quality of queer music videos.  Every time I watch this video I am struck by the intricacy of it’s simplistic theme and intention.  The choreography of is stunning; each movement feels carefully thought-out and yet effortlessly natural, simultaneously.  The use of dominance and submission (in a very non-S&M sense) within this video is what gives it a unique charm which would simply seem bland, mundane and overused in a non-queer version of the video.  Something rarely seen, the female/female gaze, is used perfectly, creating a flirtatious tension which is aggravated by the fluctuating choreography.  Something I love most about this video is it’s lack of sexual content, yet clear sexual desire, drive and intention.  This is something which is rarely conveyed accurately, or with much care, and it’s all too common to see directors rush into overt sexualisation instead of taking the time to forge a real intimacy and desire between those within the narrative.  The use of neon lighting adds to the atmospheric urban haze while also carefully reflecting queer flag colours- notably, the pansexual and bisexual flag colours.  My favourite shot of the video is the gorgeous arc Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 20.40.28shot (around 2:55), perfectly containing Hayley and her crush in a moment of lingering eye contact which makes me feel like I want to eat my laptop screen every time I see it, it’s a viscerally delicious moment which I could watch on repeat for hours. 

I’m so glad to have finally created part two in my series of the best queer music videos.  You can read part one here.  Let me know which of these videos is your favourite and why, or if you have another favourite queer music video, link me to it!- AB

images and video stills not owned by me, no copyright infringement intended

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