How a music video can make a good song better
by Bradley Donalson
Steve Grand has come out with a new music video for his single “Time.” Back in 2013, Grand made a splash with his viral, self-funded YouTube video for “All American Boy.” Grand was labeled one of country music’s first out singers, and he released his first album last week on iTunes and Amazon. Grand has put out other videos in the two years since he first went viral, but there’s something about this new video that makes it different.
“All American Boy” was a summer song about unrequited love. “Time” is winter’s answer about a relationship that fails. In the opener to the video, Grand is on a deserted train platform when he runs into Daniel Williams. We won’t question what a Wilhelmina model is doing on a train platform that won’t be in use for another two hours; let’s face it, when he looks at us with those eyes, it really doesn’t matter. Either way, he decides to ask Grand out to grab food. Cue the music.
The music is good—melodic and very well performed. Grand’s piano works well with the guitar and drums that move the song forward, but it is the video that really sticks with me. Over the course of five-and-a-half minutes, we see an entire relationship unfold. Dinner turns into walking around a snowy city complete with snowball fights and almost slipping on stairs. Hanging out with friends melds into moving in together, and then there’s drama. Grand sees Williams flirting with another man, and the ensuing fight ends with broken pictures and hearts and Grand sleeping on the couch. Peppered throughout is Grand singing to the edge of the screen, evidence that he knows the power of his profile. Then the song comes to a close with—what I believe is the most interesting aspect—returning to the original offer to grab food. Grand says yes, and they walk off together.
The final scenes really make this video for me. It would seem that the entire video was a flash of thought in Grand’s mind when deciding to accept the date. Worried that he might fall for the beautiful man in front of him. Worried that if he does, it might end badly. It speaks to the hesitation many of us feel at the start of a relationship, especially if we’ve been hurt before. It shows that Grand, a model in his own right, might still be intimidated by strikingly beautiful people. Speaking to human nature, the video imagines both the heights of a relationship and the devastating fall that could come later. And despite this, he decides to go through with it. It may not be the most empowering of images—one stunning man deciding to date with another—but the message is still there for those who deconstruct it. Sometimes, you have to throw caution into the wind and take the chance no matter how badly you think something might end.
And the video actually complements the music, giving it a layer of depth that would not have come through with just the music alone. What might be a darker song about a relationship doomed to “burn out fast” becomes something different and hopeful because it sounds over a depiction of a first date going well. The relationship progresses as the song does, singing about groups of friends and love as the video shows it. The chorus goes from being something sweet and comforting about time being on their side to something darker and sadder when the fight happens. “If you ever figure out this life, keep tellin’ me those sweet, sweet lies, ’cause I don’t wanna know,” starts out almost as if Grand is speaking to other people, telling them to let him be happy. But it morphs into something else when the video shows them breaking up. The music is good on its own, but when paired with the video, it becomes more powerful and poignant.
Grand continues to show the music world that he is ready for his star to rise. While he’s embraced himself being an openly gay man, he’s proven that he isn’t resting on being a gimmick; he’s got the musical chops to back it up. Watch the videos for “Time” and “All American Boy” as well as order his album at www.stevegrand.com.