The first video from Lee DeWyze's major-label debut Live It Up
, "Sweet Serendipity," premiered this week, just in time for the album's street date. And it's sweet indeed, a VH1-friendly affair (VH1 premiered it, so that makes sense) with a cute boy-stalks-girl love story and a neat little happy ending.
In fact, it's maybe just a little too sweet...
See, while I could do without the prominent product placement for the Sync car stereo and Bloggie flipcam, I reckon sneaky in-video advertisements are nothing new nowadays (Lady Gaga's "Telephone," which was basically a Miracle Whip/PlentyOfFish.com infomercial, taught us that, as did nine seasons of blatant Ford and Coca-Cola shilling on "Idol" itself). And yes, I've seen the synchronized split-screen shtick executed better in music videos--most notably in Cibo Matto's mind-melting, Michel Gondry-directed "Sugar Water"--but I can overlook that too.
So I suppose my biggest issue with "Sweet Serendipity" is it's all just a little too white-washed and gauze-lensed. Lee, in real life, has an actual edge
to him. He claims Sufjan Stevens is his biggest musical inspiration, for instance. In his pre-"Idol" life he was known to cover songs like Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" (complete with swear words), and the music on his two early independent albums, from which Lee has now bizarrely distanced himself, was way more raw and rockin'. Later, his best moments on "Idol" were his most somber performances, like "The Boxer" and his "Falling Slowly" duet, or even a tad subversive (I still giggle when I recall that odd bagpipes incident, which sprung entirely from the mad mind of DeWyze). And now the best moments on Live It Up
--"Dear Isabelle," "Me And My Jealousy"--are darker as well. So I'm not so sure Shiny Happy Lee is his finest incarnation. Will record-buyers think so? This is not the brooding underdog paint salesman America fell in love with, after all.
Anyway, at least Lee delivers an impessively relaxed and professional performance in his new video, indicating he's much more camera-ready than he was on his final jittery "American Idol" performance night. But somehow, throughout, I can't help imagining that he is just dying to toss that Starbucks tray into the gutter, muss up his hair, grab that brunette video girl by the hand, and drag her off to some Chicago dive bar so he can really rock out.
Maybe he'll get to do that in his next video.
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