This is Eye Candy: your biweekly update of must-watch music videos. Today, we’re covering Kelsey Lu’s Renaissance-inspired, car-focused music video for “Foreign Car.”
An engine revs, a man’s back muscles flex, “foreign” appears tatted across his shoulders, and, suddenly, the scene cuts. We’re in a tunnel viewing the scene from the rear end of a bright red sports car. A shirtless man is surrounded by flowers. A close-up surveillance camera watches a man fiddling with his chains. A man stands atop a staircase banister in a classical mansion. The video continues in this manner, highlighting men across a variety of elegantly styled landscapes until Kelsey Lu’s lyrics cut in. And there she sits, adorned in Renaissance regalia, surrounded by several of these men; she’s the center of their attention. Ironically, she sings, “there’s no other like you,” despite it being clear, at least in her video, that there are many potential objects of her affection.
Perhaps her next line is more accurate, as she sings, “and no other like me” in another ornate outfit in a yellow field of flowers, two shirtless men behind her.
The music video is about highlighting Lu or, more generally, highlighting women across both modern and traditional depictions of love. While men are abundant in the video, they serve as a backdrop to Lu’s emotions, sensuality, and stories. She is always shown central with her extraordinary outfits while men hover around her, are draped behind her, or appear in more simplistic shots less elegantly clothed. Such an excessive split between the genders might read as inappropriate to some. However, it is vital to see Lu’s video as what it is in every sense: a reclamation.
In a behind-the-scenes video released with the music video, Lu and her director Vincent Hancock articulate the concepts that inspired the video. Quite clearly, the focus of the video is a Renaissance-inspired aesthetic. Yet, it is the depth of that imagery and the way that it is abstracted and built upon that makes the video truly artful. In the behind-the-scenes, clips are shown of movement director Maëva Berthelot taking direct poses from Renaissance art but flipping the genders associated with the position. Thus, Lu is thrust into the middle of the scene and men cluster around her, transitioning a centuries-old dynamic into something new. The song, in addition to the video, seems to take a male-centric vision and seamlessly place Lu at its center. The song “Foreign Car” relies on imagery surrounding cars: a realm typically dominated by men. Additionally, the song situates Lu as one having desires rather than being the subject of them: “I, I, I, I, I, I, I wanna drive you/Hard, hard, hard, hard, hard, hard, hard/My foreign car, car, car, car, car, car, car.” Thus, roles are once again changed, with Lu taking the driver’s seat: a place stereotypically reserved for men.
However, the video is so much more than just a switch-up on gender roles. It accomplishes that message while simultaneously delivering the elegant, but simultaneously raw, energy of femininity; it conveys its hard-hitting themes while being beautiful. The wardrobe embraces the ornate Renaissance and female power, the multiple sets create an exquisite, timelessly beautiful backdrop for the emotional piece, and the movement is meticulously done, becoming a dance intertwined with the narrative.
If you haven’t seen the video yet, love yourself and watch it below. With an exquisite combination of reclamation and art, it is not one to be missed.