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One Video: Frontline by Kelela

One Video: Frontline by Kelela


Featuring a One Video favorite: driving with friends at night

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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: “Frontline” by Kelela

Lizzie: I can’t claim to know that many people, but I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like The Sims, and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like Kelela. That’s why it was easy for Kaitlyn and I, as people-pleasers, to choose a video this week. Like Usher’s “Burn,” the video for “Frontline” chronicles a difficult breakup and then a car ride, but unlike “Burn,” everything takes place in Sims world. The result was a collaborative effort by Kelela, her creative director Mischa Notcutt, and animator and visual artist Claudia Matè.

Kaitlyn: Truthfully, I was never allowed to play any version of The Sims because my parents felt that computer games should be educational and have nothing to do with kissing. That’s why I’m so obsessed — as an adult — with dumb things and with kissing.

However, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Sims aesthetic tags on Tumblr, where people my age imagine elaborate fantasies such as being able to afford a home before they’re dead. In the case of Kelela, the fantasy is being able to gracefully remove yourself from a romantic situation, get in your white Mercedes convertible (with vanity plates!), pick up some gal pals, and teleport to an alternate reality where there are no stop signs and no signs of life.


Who is Kelela?

Lizzie: Kelela is a musician and songwriter based in LA. She released her very good first mixtape, Cut 4 Me, in 2013, and I didn’t even realize it was that long ago until I looked it up. Damn! In 2015 she released an EP, Hallucinogen, and last year she dropped her first full-length studio album, Take Me Apart.

I went to a Kelela show in 2013 or 2014 that featured an entire live marching band. The Verge’s features editor was also apparently there, but we didn’t know each other then.


Kaitlyn: Björk and Solange Knowles are two known superfans of Kelela. Not bad! In an October cover story for The Fader, she advised the journalist who was supposedly interviewing her: “If you see someone that you like, you go up to them, and you let them know they’re beautiful. You tell them your name, you get theirs, and then you ask, ‘Are you here with anyone?’ If you tell people what you like, they’ll give you more of it.” Good advice that I’ll never follow because Kelela has it way more together than I do.

What’s special about “Frontline” by Kelela?

Lizzie: Apparently I love an animated driving sequence, and “Frontline” has a lot of that. In fact, as we already learned from Buddy’s “World of Wonders,” any music video that features friends driving with the top down at night is doing something right. Here, Kelela and her friends drive into the crotch of a statue and end up in some kind of time warp, which is an unexpected addition to the driving canon.

Kaitlyn: Kelela and her friends also trouble themselves to perform some group choreography — while they’re still Sims! It’s special to see a girl crew so devoted to each other that they’ll eagerly cross into cyberspace upon invitation.

How long everyone should watch “Frontline” by Kelela:

Lizzie: I don’t mean to harp on the car thing, but 2:30 to 2:35 is nothing but a stretch of quickly moving highway,

Kaitlyn: From 4:38 to the end is the part where Kelela is cruising around her cozy alternate universe, where everything is pink and orange and purple and glowing. I don’t know, have you heard that the East Coast might get brushed off the face of the Earth with a large gust of wind today? Hang out in Kelela’s world instead.