Of course, album-length music videos have been around since the 1980s, but since the 2016s Lemonade, form is making a comeback. Kacey musgraves Star-Crossed: The Movie is the last such effort this year, coming just after Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour bal and Halsey If I can’t have love I want power. Released in September 2021 in conjunction with his latest album, Star crossed, it is currently airing on Paramount + and was directed by Bardia Zeinali, the videographer who has also directed music videos for Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among others.
Star crossed finds Musgraves at a personal and professional crossroads. Although her roots are in country music and the Nashville hit machine, she has been pushing the boundaries of the genre since 2018. Golden hour. A quick listen to the new album reveals that the country acoustic instrumentation and tradition of history songs are often overshadowed by sonic textures borrowed from disco, 70s soft rock, indie folk and modern pop. ‘
While Musgraves is 6 times a Grammy winner, including 5 in the country music category, Star crossed was deemed ineligible for Country Album of the Year by the Grammy Nominating Committee, according to Billboard magazine. Musgraves spoke about the move social media, claiming, “You can take the girl out of the country (like) but you can’t take the girl out of the country.” However, movements as pop-savvy as playing naked on Saturday Night Live and commissioning The Bieb FaceTime Calls makes the lady think too much protest.
In 2017, Musgraves married fellow singer and songwriter Ruston Kelly. Their 2020 divorce informs almost all of the facts of Star crossed, the album. “Let me set the scene, two lovers torn to the seams,” Musgraves sings on the opening title song and continues from there, going from love to heartache to healing. Besides her personal story, she said the album was influenced by Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet and the three-act accounts of Greek tragedies.
Maybe by chance, Star-Crossed: The Movie visually reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, a post-modern mix of high and low fashion and dreamlike and American venues. After opening in what looks like a strip club’s dressing room, Musgraves sadly sings the title song in a wedding dress on a drab desert highway surrounded by dancers in multi-colored outfits.
With dramatic allusions, “ACT 1” flashes on the screen. We see Musgraves smash and grab into a bridal shop with RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Symone, rapper Princess Nokia and actress Victoria Pedretti, perhaps a nod to the single life she’s leaving behind, before going to wife training school where she taught the intricacies of domestic happiness. The song “good life” comes and goes during both storylines, as do other album cuts during the 48 minute film, not exactly creating music videos but rather suggesting listening accompaniment to the visuals at the same time. screen.
“ACT II” finds Kacey singing the hit “Justified” as she travels through different locations and weather conditions, a metaphor for the mix of emotions she feels during the breakup. Sometimes she cries, sometimes she smokes a badly rolled joint. She has a car accident and literally breaks into pieces, her disembodied head singing “Camera Roll”. Nurses in tight dresses and high heels pick her up from the LA river and take her to the hospital where Eugene Levy sews her up and equips her with a steel breastplate, I guess so she doesn’t have more heartbroken.
“ACT III” is the resolution and acceptance. Musgraves is back in the LA River, trying to outrun a black stallion, an incredibly silly visual. She finds a pill bottle, eats one, hallucinates and ends up at church. She then sings “Gracias a la Vida”, translated “Thank you to life”, written by the Chilean writer and composer Violeta Parra, who committed suicide in 1967. The choice of the cover is Kacey’s way of saying that ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, heartache being part of the journey and essential to one’s growth.
Although Kacey Musgraves has performed professionally since childhood, she doesn’t cause an overnight sensation. At 33, she sings about adult relationships and their traps with an authority that her contemporaries lack. My teenage daughter describes her as “like a funny aunt.” In album form, Star crossed could be of his generation Rumors and Star-Crossed: The Movie shows that Musgraves’ ambitions as an artist transcend the narrow classifications the music industry tries to ascribe to him.
Benjamin H. Smith is a New York-based writer, producer and musician. Follow him on Twitter: @BHsmithNYC.