Laura Linney is Aimee Mann. That’s all you really need to know about Aimee Mann’s new music video “Charmer.”
Curt? Quite. But that’s all it took for me to watch the video for the first time.
I presume you’ve already hit the replay button on the YouTube embed. I can’t blame you. That song is catchy. Catchy is one of Aimee Mann’s strengths.
I think the most interesting aspect of “Charmer” is the New Wave-styled synth leading into the verses. It has this almost human quality about it that is quite fetching. It’s just off enough to stand out from the vocal but works wonders in the context of the video.
The video has a cool concept. I’m prone to fits of sci-fi and robotic doubles are a trope I’m drawn to. Aimee Mann takes it a step further with her own desire to take a break leading to her potential demise.
I haven’t seen too many instances where the human has to train the robot to behave in a certain way. The more typical use of the learn by example concept is cloning, but that’s not this situation. Aimee Mann has ordered a robotic double that is uncannily like herself. After a trying learning cycle, the double begins to assume the identity of the star full time.
If the song were any less bubbly, this could be quite disturbing. “Charmer” actually balances out a surprisingly dark concept for a music video. It’s not that music videos can’t handle mature content (look at the Skrillex video for First of the Year/Equinox for a recent example). It’s that a song this bright doesn’t normally dance with a darker, more satirical narrative.
Leave it to an artist like Aimee Mann to betray expectations with a really catchy song/video combo. I think the key to its success is Laura Linney. Forget that Aimee and Laura really do look alike. Linney is a strong enough actress to sell the transition from mindless robot servant to confident rock star without a single line of dialogue. It’s how she carries herself and barely moves her face in her interactions. The perma-smile is creepy and 100% Laura Linney.
I’m always glad to see an artist, especially an established one like Aimee Mann, take a risk like this with a music video. It might be just a bit too odd to really take off. It’s still a rewarding artistic exercise that compliments the song nicely.
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