Monday, November 13, 2006

Looking To Open Your Eyes

Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall attempts to illuminate the possibilities of humanity through the sunshine of her music in the video for “Suddenly I See”…

(poor quality YouTube feed, click below to see hi-res Quicktime file)

VIDEO: "Suddenly I See" directed by Honey

KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” is a wonderfully infectious song, the type of tune that can launch an artist into the national conscience, guaranteeing them at least the impact of a one-hit wonder. Thus its no surprise that the people behind the promotion of Tunstall’s career have taken the video for this song so seriously, as it will be, for many people, their introduction into the world of KT. There where two previous versions of this video commissioned, the first was released in Europe (Tunstall is from Scotland, part Chinese), while the second was released a few months ago stateside. But the latter failed to ignite the American masses, and so we are given this third chance to embrace “Suddenly I See.”

From the opening seconds it’s obvious that the directors, Honey, have chosen to emphasize the giddy energy of the song with bright colorful animation. The animation itself is completely marvelous, a consistently moving collage of a rising city (which looks like a combination of a number of big American cities) infused with music. There are a number of subtle touches that come together to bring this wonderful world to life (look closely and you’ll notice the rising bubbles, and impressionistic corners of the drawings). The implication is that Tunstall is entering a new place and as she does so it begins to change as a result of her music. The numerous guitars, speakers and the Lauryn Hill-esque record players that appear within the construction of this world make this clear – music has the power to physically change our society.

Yet it isn’t just a matter of influencing a society, Tunstall speaks about inspiring individual people, forcing them to “see” the beauty in everything – and thus in themselves. The opening lines of the song are “her face is a map of the world, is a map of the world/ and you can see she’s a beautiful girl, she’s a beautiful girl.” The singer herself recalls a moment of inspiration that led her to become a singer, to become this larger than life figure (walking through cities), who could have power, the ability to captivate an audience with her words and music – and thus actually have an impact on them (there is also a reference to the music video as having this inspirational power with the movie reel scene, which could also be a jibe at the multiple videos made for this song).

But more than just a universal need to inspire, Tunstall makes a point of mentioning “a beautiful girl” specifically. There is an underlying message of female empowerment that may have also pushed the singer in the first place. We see a woman walk through a city as if in control of it, she climbs bridges and scales buildings – she becomes larger than life. The reference to the “face” in a magazine reminds one of the multitudes of contradictory and troublesome images bombarding young women these days, but Tunstall is seeking to use that same fame and visual power to embrace humanity rather than define one-mode of beauty. In every face there is a “map of the world,” the potential for greatness that all humanity possesses – and that is the type of image that all people, not just young women, need to experience.

As she floats up into the stars Tunstall finally realizes the feeling of greatness that follows any act of inspiration, and it is this moment that becomes the pay-off for her – the reason why it “means so much” to her. By inspiring and revealing the beauty in the world Tunstall elevates herself, her own self-image and confidence. More than anything though, she gives her life meaning through her music – and that is something we are all striving for, and something we can all achieve if only we “see” the potential in ourselves. And that is the reason Tunstall and company want so badly for America to hear and see this song/video.

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Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie