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One Video: Would You Rather by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst

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The perfect thing to do today

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Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.

This week’s video: “Would You Rather” by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst

Lizzie: Kaitlyn found this video this week. It only has around 11,000 views, and I wasn’t one of them until today. But what a nice Friday treat for me personally! The song is the perfect thing to listen to today, because no one comes into the office on Fridays anyway, and it’s not like you’ll get a better opportunity to stare at a wall and feel warm and sad any other day of the week.

Kaitlyn: Yes, I found it, because I love Lizzie and want her to be happy. This song is a sweet, tender little collab between two kind-looking singer-songwriters, and it’s accompanied by an animation / crayon video that looks a little bit like Elmo’s World combined with a vintage MTV ad and an outdoor adventure magazine. Because I am a seasoned art critic, it’s easy for me to note that the liberal use of warm colors (you know, colors that you see in fires) is what makes the video feel so warm.

I don’t agree with Lizzie that you need to feel sad, necessarily, as the song is about a game of “would you rather” where the question is “would you rather die or be alive?” and the answer is “be alive.”

Who are Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst?

Kaitlyn: Phoebe Bridgers is 23 years old, and she is a folk singer from Los Angeles. She is close pals with Ryan Adams, which I don’t love, but she is also close pals with Conor Oberst, which I do love. Her debut album Stranger in the Alps came out in September, and made lots of people — including me — dive under the covers and hide their mouths with their hands. She has a song called “Smoke Signals,” which I recently added to my sad New Year’s Eve playlist; she has another called “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which she didn’t write, okay, obviously, but it’s beautiful and I recently added it to my sad Christmas playlist. All of her promotional artwork has sloppy, non-threatening ghosts on it.

Lizzie: Conor Oberst is an Aquarius probably best known for being the voice and face of Bright Eyes. You also might know him from Desaperacidos or his teenage band Commander Venus. Every time I hear his voice, it twists my sensitive little stomach in knots because it reminds me of any time I’ve ever been younger than I am now. He wrote the saddest birthday song I’ve ever heard, and I listen to it every year on my birthday and cry a bit. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but if you’ve ever met a Conor Oberst fan, you know we can’t help it.

What’s special about “Would You Rather” by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst:

Lizzie: This is a great video, with a fucked-up iridescent Technicolor look and little illustrations of cacti and sea lobsters. But I think it’s obvious where my loyalties lie. Conor shows up in a rodeo hat and a Western shirt, which Kaitlyn called “not his best” approximation of the cowboy look. I agree, because I think dark colors just work better on him, but he seems to be having a blast. He even smiles! Oh my god.

Kaitlyn: What’s special about this video is that it’s full of people with TVs for heads. Also, it was made by Jackson Bridgers, Phoebe’s brother. He’s made a number of short films, and he made one called “A Day at Work,” where blurred-out individuals whose insides have been replaced with pencil drawings talk about their daily work routine. Oddly, none of them say “wake up, take bus, read and enjoy the column One Video.” I like it anyway.

On Instagram, Phoebe relayed her brother’s mission statement for the video, which I will only excerpt because it was very long:

“[S]itting in front of the TV was one of the main places we bonded as kids, second only to long road trips. This song beautifully shows that knowing someone means knowing all of their darkest and most gruesome childhood fears and nightmares, but friendship and time can turn those negative emotions into something useful.”

How long everyone should watch “Would You Rather” by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst:

Lizzie: From around 1:06 to 1:10, Conor does a little jig, which would be deeply embarrassing for anyone else but is endearing for him. No one, least of all me, thought I could be more endeared than I already was.

Kaitlyn: Listen to Lizzie, who loves Conor so much. But I think you could watch the whole thing if you have the time to spare, and you honestly do.