Music

The Magnetic Fields' 'Andrew In Drag'

If there's been one song that's been the earworm of the All Songs Considered office, it'd have to be The Magnetic Fields' new single "Andrew in Drag." Ever since we first played the song on the show we've been humming bars, singing stanzas and practicing their Stephin Merritt impression. It's no mystery why the song has such sticking power — Merritt's songwriting ability makes crafting extremely catchy songs seem easy.

Be advised, this video contains nudity.

"[The song's] about a straight guy who falls madly in love with the drag persona of his straight friend Andrew," Merritt wrote in an email. It's a concept that could seem hackneyed in another musician's hands, but Merritt's clever writing draws out the absurdity and wit of the situation. In his trademark deadpan he constantly finds every single word ending with "ag" that he could possibly use. The instrumentals could perfectly fit in the band's classic 69 Love Songs album with a bouncing bass line and glossy synths. In a mere two minutes the song packs in a gigantic amount of charm and style.

Director Scott Valins created what feels like an infomercial on a channel you can't comprehend. Faceless models slip on and off clothes in front of a clean, white background. Magnetic Fields members Merrit and Claudia Gonson rotate expressionlessly. The two stars of the video, Darrell Thorne and the fantastically-named Stormy Leather, are seen in various points of drag transformation. Their physical image is quickly shifting, make-up is applied and smeared, mustaches are glued on, a lot of tape is used. As the models finally wipe away their hard work a blank nametag is flashed on the screen, reminding us that identity is complex and beyond conventional labeling.

Valins described for us the process behind creating the video's concept:

Stephin came to Valins&Co with this extraordinary song and together we explored the concept of playing with the ambiguities of gender and attraction. We took the opportunity to create a vibrant collage, exploring the intimate process of transforming ones gender. The backbone of the piece is a series of intimate portraits that lead the viewer to their own complex conclusions of what they are attracted to.

Love at the Bottom of the Sea will be out on March 6th from Merge Records.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Music

Terence Blanchard is the guest on this week's Piano Jazz. Henry Adebonojo/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Henry Adebonojo/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Terence Blanchard On Piano Jazz

The Grammy award-winning trumpeter and composer joins Marian McPartland to perform standards like "I Thought About You" with bassist Gary Mazzaroppi.

Terence Blanchard On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/530240350/530241963" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

This year, Hanson celebrates its 25th anniversary as a band. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

All Songs TV

Hanson's Got A New Song, And Guess What? It's Fantastic

"I Was Born" is out today, and if it's not in a car commercial by this time next week, every ad agency in America will have fallen down on the job.

Gabriel Garzon-Montano performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 3, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Gabriel Garzón-Montano spent three years writing and recording his beautiful, dense album Jardin -- but for his Tiny Desk visit, he stripped it all down to two elements, the piano and his voice.

Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir revised her piece Aura especially for The Los Angeles Percussion Quartet. David Holechek hide caption

toggle caption David Holechek

All Songs TV

Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Volcanic Transmissions

As members of the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet bow their vibraphones, brush their gongs and message their bass drums, the composer's evocative music oozes from blackness.

Cloud Cult. Graham Tolbert/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Graham Tolbert/Courtesy of the artist

Music

With 'The Seeker,' Cloud Cult Makes A Movie To Match Its Music

The Twin Cities band's latest project is a feature film called The Seeker, which builds on themes of love, optimism, pain and belief. Watch the video for "No Hell."

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill perform live on Mountain Stage. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Martin Hayes And Dennis Cahill On Mountain Stage

Hear the Irish instrumental duo perform a set of jigs, reels and airs live in West Virginia.

Martin Hayes And Dennis Cahill On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/529746282/529749347" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top