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Christine and the Queens is an artist that I, like many other wannabe francophones, have been gently obsessed with for quite some time. On the 5th of February of this year, she released her latest single, ‘People, I've been sad’, a song I have identified with in truly damning depth this last month. On the 28th, to the surprise of all, she then released a music video and an entire EP; La Vita Nuova.

'There is always a narrative in Chris’ videos, although it may be difficult to detangle'

Chris, the performance name taken by Héloïse Letissier, has always been known for taking her creations beyond the audio experience. She is a skilled dancer and choreographer, something she has always incorporated into her music videos. ‘Damn, dis-moi’, the first music video from her 2018 album Chris featured her and the dancers of (La)Horde, a French dance collective playing around on a Frank Ebbet-esque building site in front of a golden crepuscular sky. The dancers form a sort of Westside Story gang, listening to their leader ‘Chris’ extoll on his romantic endeavours. There is always a narrative in Chris’ videos, although it may be difficult to detangle.

Thus her initial video for ‘People, I’ve been sad’ was something of a surprise to fans. Unless you count hand wringing and bopping in time to the music as choreography - which, admittedly many singers do - the music video which heralded the single's release is unusually stationary. There are no backing dancers here. In fact, there is only Chris, wearing a beautifully tacky blue silk suit, standing in front of a soft purple background.

‘Colors’ are a Berlin based studio and YouTube channel, whose motto is “all colors, no genres”

Because, as the advert goes, this isn’t just any studio music video, this is a ‘Colors’ Show. ‘Colors’ are a Berlin based studio and YouTube channel, whose motto is “all colors, no genres”. Started in 2016, the channel has become something of a viral sensation – beating even NPR's Tiny Desk Concert on YouTube by 4.22 million subscribers to 3.56 million. People I have never heard of and people even I have heard of have filmed at the studio; from Eddy de Pretto to Doja Cat. All of them have filmed in almost exactly the same set up as Christine and the Queens. The only difference is the background colour.

This minimalism, a phenomenon eternally trending on Instagram, has no doubt contributed to their success and almost certainly is also why the normally high production Letissier chose the channel to debut her new single. Unlike NPR, the focus is not necessarily on the immediate skill of the musician. The microphone Letissier is using, probably a Neumann U47 clone, normally requires a pop shield to prevent extreme plosives (something you can see on other videos in the series which use the same microphone); it is likely this was filmed separately to the actual recording of the music, just as the royal purple background itself is actually added in in post-production.

'The audience is confronted by Chris/ Christine/Héloïse as she wants to be seen at all times; short hair, silk suit, platform boots and all'

But then, unlike Mariah Carey, Letissier is still touring and proving her skill as a singer daily. What she is gaining from this particular video is, once more, the aesthetic, in a much deeper sense than just the requirement of looking good. Christine and the Queens started as a band, with Letissier as frontwoman and the memory of the three drag queens who helped her through the darkest point of her life as her backing band. The importance of looks has always been clear to her as an artist. Letissier herself is a genderqueer pansexual. Her narrative creations allow her to explore aspects of her identity that might not be touched upon otherwise. However, there is also a danger of these videos making her identity seem like something exclusive to the world of the music video. The ‘Colors’ music video recouples the artist and her identity. Without the panache of a full music video the audience is confronted by Chris/Christine/Héloïse as she wants to be seen at all times; short hair, silk suit, platform boots and all.


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The absolute opulence of the short film which accompanies her new EP is something of a response to the stripped down minimalism of her last video then. It is a fascinating film, drawing on references from classical literature and culture: the title La Vita Nuova comes from a 13th century Dante text, and the setting is the palatial Opéra Garnier in Paris. There are more recent references too - much of Chris’ costume inspiration comes from figures like David Bowie and Leonardo Di Caprio’s Romeo. Vogue describes the final scene of the video as the ‘Thriller’ music video meets Paris Is Burning. Letissier has told us who she is, and now she tells us where she is coming from, and very much where she intends on going - that is, right to the very boundaries of music and visual artistry.

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