This is Eye Candy: your biweekly update of must-watch music videos. Today, we’re covering Kevin George’s “Don’t Sleep Without Me” video, a song off his upcoming album.
In the middle of a dimly lit room, a fire blazing in the background, Kevin George sits alone in an oversized armchair, lamenting the absence of an unseen girlfriend. He’s watching TV. When the camera flips, and we’re watching with him, it’s not clear what we’re viewing. It’s a memory, or it’s a movie, or a dream of a fantasy land. What we do know is that George is there somehow, defying space and time by being on screen and watching it at the same time. And then a nameless girl (played by Hanna Lashay) appears, sitting on a swing. It’s a mirage, and George is singing to Lashay.
The video utilizes various points of view and perspective to enhance its storytelling. As we shift from being George’s eyes as he watches the silent TV screen, we are spontaneously immersed in the scene itself. Now we have gone from watching a nameless girl on a swing set surrounded by a vast open landscape and trees to being in the open field with her, watching Kevin George sing to her from just a few feet away. In the same way, when George sings to the camera, we are the audience and the object of his affection all at once. He’s singing to us and at us, begging us “don’t sleep without me” while relaying the story of his lonely heart to those who have not yet heard the unfortunate tale.
The camera, periodically, shows us a wide view of the dismal living room, reminding us of the two armchairs in the space, and how one of them remains empty.
The lighting, too, is hazy. The fuzzy, almost blurry quality contributes to the dreamlike feel of the images, again calling into question whether or not this display is a memory, a dream, or something else. It breaks to a scene of George in a denim jacket and the same woman clad in a stylish orange jumpsuit, sitting in a windowsill. It’s a heated but silent conversation, the pair relating their thoughts and feelings exclusively through facial expressions. It’s an argument; the two hold on tightly with their hands, though their faces say that their bond is breaking.”Told you I want you/I told you, you ain’t anybody” he sings as Lashay finally releases her grasp on George and walks away, frustrated. It makes sense, then, that in the next scene George is alone in a ballroom, singing, “I told you to forget about me.” Then earlier scenes flash again across the screen, expanding on views not previously seen. As the song goes on and their relationship deteriorates, the lighting used gets colder, harsher, and darker, clouding the video and their relationship with obscurity.
There is an entire world beyond what is immediately visible on the screen. It’s an insight into the pair’s life together, revealing that their beautiful world visible on the television is not merely a movie set. As the video winds down in the last twenty seconds, George resumes singing with a refrain of the “don’t sleep without me” chorus. We’re made to hyperfocus on his face, his expressions, as he intensely stares down the camera and mumbles words along. Then his gaze shifts, and the camera follows; Lashay is now sitting in the other armchair. The music cuts off, and the audience is left to wonder not only where she came from and when she arrived, but also whether or not she’s real. What George — or better yet, Edgar Esteves, the video’s director — does in bending the confines of time and spacial understanding is remarkable. Rather than having George fall asleep, or create an explicit flashback, he allows two hyperrealistic worlds to exist simultaneously by putting one on a screen. There is no way to deny or make sense of what George is viewing; it feels like a movie until we’re immersed in the on-screen dreamscape. It’s two videos in one; the audience viewing George viewing his fantasies, collapsing the roles of who is truly watching whom and who has the most holistic view.