Intersect fave Weyes Blood’s Titanic Rising is one of the year’s most stunning albums, and one with a lot to say about life in the new millennium. We broke down the standout track “Movies,” and found a meditation on social media.
Lights and cameras, set in action. All around us, and living inside our pockets. Watching us, watching ourselves, being watched. Just like in the movies. “Put me in a movie,” pleads singer Natalie Laura Mering, “and everyone will know me.” “Movies” is the lead single from Mering’s fourth album recorded under the name Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising. A song with panoramic views, ready to narrate its own montage. Like trudging through snow, grocery shopping, or waiting in a lobby. Perfect for when the banality of daily life needs cinema. “You’ll be the star,” Mering continues, “you know you are.”
In the span of the past decade social media has grown from a niche pastime to become, well, many things: a newsroom, a town square, a bar stool where we argue passionately with strangers. It’s also taken on many of the roles of film, igniting a new renaissance in visual storytelling. Twenty-four hours a day it serves us drama, comedy, romance, pathos, violence, life lessons, inspiration. It’s cinematic in every sense of the word, even if it’s never screened in cinemas.
Going to the movies, thankfully, is still available to us. When streaming, binging, and queue-ing get to be too much, we can sit in a dark room that is not our bedroom. Privately, but in public. A room of strangers, vying for a moment of feeling. “Some people feel what some people don’t,” sings Mering, “Some people watch until they explode.” What are we watching? Meals, birthdays, memories, and selfies. Tapping through people’s lives, tapping through our own lives, perhaps to confirm that everything is in fact happening. Amazingly, life is not a movie. Not yet, anyway. “The meaning of life doesn’t seem to shine like that screen,” concludes the second verse, orchestral synths carrying us through.
“Movies” is a song with its own momentum, one that feels more than a little like an actual film. Here Mering is summoning a new primal need, the need to be seen–not just by those we love, or whoever happens to be in our immediate area, but by all. As many eyes as possible, trained on our every move. Warhol was wrong; fifteen minutes is too long. Virality only needs a moment, and it turns out, so do we. Sweeping vocals propel the song forward, carrying us toward a grand finale. Like a director, or an actress, Mering takes us there: “I know the meaning, I know the story, I know the glory, I love movies.”
Expansive, urgent, violins roll in, and the primal beat of a drum. Like beating against your chest, or against a screen. “I wanna be in my own movie,” cries Mering, not asking, but telling. It is no longer a question, or an impossibility. What is a movie, if not a story? Stories, things we create constantly, recording and sharing as we go along. “I wanna be the star of mine,” Mering concludes, “Of my own, my own.”
It’s a dream as old as film itself. It’s not as crazy to dream anymore as it was when starring in your own movie took a studio’s backing and a massive budget. We are all stars these days–as well as directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and audiences. Technology has made a once rare dream as common as writing “last night was a movie” in a caption. With Weyes Blood as the soundtrack, swelling with hope and longing and something bright and beautiful and hard to place, it can feel like an instant classic.