(Aylish Turner | Daily Trojan)

As school starts back up, I have to remind everyone not to forget the best part of summer: Bops. I love summer songs as much as the next person. In fact, for the most part, music is how I define summer.

The summer after my junior year of high school, I listened to Twenty One Pilots’ “Ride” and Drake’s “One Dance” (featuring WizKid and Kyla) on repeat while attending an exchange program in France. To this day, my memories of the Paris airport are inextricably linked to those two songs. Summer 2017 meant the pop hit “Back to You” by Louis Tomlinson (featuring Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals) was on repeat in my summer program dorm room.

This summer, I listened to a lot of Dua Lipa – specifically, “Levitating,” the PNAU “Cold Heart” remix with Elton John, and the relatively underrated “Hallucinate.” Being on repeat pretty much all the time, Dua Lipa became my pop queen of the summer. Following my tendency to fall into the deep dark hole of YouTube after discovering something I remotely liked, I ended up on a Dua Lipa music video marathon.

After watching far more Dua Lipa videos than I should have, I discovered that there was one element that truly exemplifies her role as a musical “artist”: the use of animation to bring her music to life and tell a story.

Just check out the official video for Dua Lipa’s “Physical” (probably my favorite Dua song, but who’s asking?). Interspersed throughout the live footage of Dua Lipa dancing are various animated images reminiscent of old cartoons, such as an animated version of Dua Lipa playing with superpowers in an animated beating heart.

“Hallucinate” is another one of these music videos where the animation fits perfectly with the meaning of the music. Since the lyrics are about diving headfirst into a fantasy, Dua uses animation as a medium to convey a message about the “hallucinations” of a romantic relationship.

The fully animated video follows a version of Dua Lipa traveling through various strange landscapes, literally driving home the point of “Hallucinate,” with the video feeling like a hallucination in itself. The doors open one after the other and the Dua Lipa cartoon multiplies. Back-up dancers with stars for heads swirl around a dancing Dua Lipa. Dancing eggplants and cartoon unicorns also appear. The whole video just looks like an incredibly out-of-body experience and it’s an exciting adventure.

The animated “Levitating” video features Dua Lipa paying homage to her inspiration: Sailor Moon. From the art style to the galactic content, “Levitating” is Dua Lipa’s take on the iconic anime, one that’s specific to her music lyrics. In this case, the pop star is given the qualities of a superhero, as if the video is reminding us that pop music has its own magic. Similar to that of “Hallucinate”, Dua Lipa and Elton John’s “Cold Heart” music video is also an eclectic mix of visuals, with animated versions of the singers accompanied by stop-motion dancers and images of the solar system.

While Dua Lipa’s use of animation in her music has been my favorite of the summer, she’s not the only star to show her appreciation for the art form. Billie Eilish’s live concert experience, “Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles,” is a concert film that combines both animated sequences with live stage performances.

True to the film’s title which is a “love letter to LA”, an animated version of Billie Eilish explores the city between each performance. This integration of an animated character is a stunning way to see the city through the lens of romanticizing it.

In the film’s trailer, Eilish says she definitely has “fantasies about LA,” explaining how the film is more than a concert film, but a narrative about the “idealized version” of herself. With animation to describe this “idealized” self, Eilish successfully creates a story that goes along with her music. Animation is all about creating an alternate version of reality, and “Happier Than Ever” shows that with its animated elements.

Seeing the real Billie meet the animated Billie at the end of the concert feels like a merging of two worlds. It’s a beautifully humane way to account for the fantasy of LA, while simultaneously dealing with the depth of Eilish’s own experiences growing up in the city. Once again, the animation is able to effectively illustrate the divisions of the self as well as their eventual reconciliation.

Animation is a powerful storytelling tool, and it’s clear that music artists are responding to this by integrating animation into their music videos. The more artists in all disciplines begin to notice animation as a way to tell their stories, the more that animation can really take us out of this world.

Valerie Wu is a senior writer on animation and digital arts from a contemporary perspective.

By admin

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