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

Lucius, performing live on Mountain Stage. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Lucius On Mountain Stage

The band, led by singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, performs live in West Virginia.

Lucius On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/495905614/495909129" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cecilia Smith is Marian McPartland's guest in this episode of Piano Jazz. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Cecilia Smith On Piano Jazz

The acclaimed vibraphonist solos on "Mourning Before Grace," a piece dedicated to her mother.

Cecilia Smith On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/495170641/495179845" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Rachael Yamagata performs on Mountain Stage. Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Rachael Yamagata On Mountain Stage

The singer-songwriter plays new songs from Tightrope Walker onstage in West Virginia.

Rachael Yamagata On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/495069524/495080069" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

A young man walks through a sunny wood in a scene from LVL UP's new video for "The Closing Door." Courtesy of the artist. hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist.

All Songs TV

Take An Existential Journey With LVL UP

The New York band's new video for "The Closing Door" tells a sunny coming-of-age story.

Back To Top