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

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Jazz

David Amram On Piano Jazz

The prolific composer performs on piano, horn and a variety of flutes and whistles for this 1991 session.

David Amram On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/525036168/525209314" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

2017 NEA Jazz Masters Dave Holland, Dick Hyman, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Dr. Lonnie Smith (not pictured: Ira Gitler) at the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Dinner, sponsored by BMI, on April 2, 2017. Yassine El Mansouri/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center hide caption

toggle caption Yassine El Mansouri/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

The 2017 NEA Jazz Masters, In Their Own Words

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Hear how the artists honored by the NEA this year — Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Dave Holland, Dick Hyman and Ira Gitler — earned their stripes and paid their jazz dues.

The 2017 NEA Jazz Masters, In Their Own Words

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/524881192/524881250" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Pink Martini On Mountain Stage

The international sensation brings its multilingual, multi-genre repertoire back to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Clay Center in Charleston, W.Va.

Pink Martini On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/524561975/524566316" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top