I have now watched the "Heather" music video twice, and I'm honestly still trying to gather all my thoughts together. I didn't really have any expectations going into the video because I couldn't imagine what a video for "Heather" would look like. In a way, it felt like the lyric video, taken right out of his journal pages, said it all. Though, with "Heather" skyrocketing up multiple Spotify charts and becoming a TikTok trend, it makes sense that they'd want to keep that momentum going with a video.
I think they succeeded at grabbing people's attention. Just in the time it took to watch the "Heather" video, Conan's YouTube followers went up by 1,000 people and was up 2,000 from the day before. This video is also interesting beyond its content for the fact that it was entirely dreamed up and filmed in the lockdown world and joins the line up of videos trying to figure out how to make a splash with so many constraints. While some people have started flouting safety standards, "Heather" stays close to home. It seems to have been entirely filmed in Conan's apartment. I have to wonder what the "Heather" video would've looked like in a different world given how highly produced all of the other Kid Krow videos are, but the one we got feels almost more fitting to the song than anything a large amount of people or production could've created.
The "Heather" video is also a reminder that Conan is a product of Taylor Swift, just like many of us who are fans. You should never take a photo at face value. There might be an Easter egg lurking behind every post. The entire video ties back to Conan's Instagram post on July 17th where he's posing in front of the mirror in a knit vest and plaid skirt, simply captioned "what day of the week is it ?". It quickly became Conan's most liked Instagram photo ever and now has well over a million likes. I'd say that put the "Heather" video off to a pretty good start.
The whole cinematic experience can basically be summed up in the lyrics "Why would you ever kiss me/I'm not even half as pretty" and "I wish I were Heather". It's full of aesthetic, dreamy shots that hit somewhere between an artsy movie montage and a get ready with me YouTube video. It opens with Conan waking up and getting out of bed (if you watch all of Conan's videos, you'll recognize the room immediately from his acoustic version of "Heather"). He gets up and goes to shower and start his day. There are a ton of cutaway shots of him in the shower from different angles. It's super moody and contemplative. I particularly liked how, in a lot of these shots, they managed to capture it so that the rainbow shadows from the glass show up across his skin.
The video mostly deals in clips of shadows on the walls, close ups of expanses of skin, and farther out shots that progress the story. A lot of the clips go back and forth through time. After the original shower shots, it goes back to Conan pulling off his tank top. There are also cuts to him staring at his journal (the same one the original "Heather" lyrics came from), and up the skylight in his bathroom to the cloudy sky, perfectly match with "brighter than a blue sky". All of these cuts add to the sad yet reflective tone of the video.
The next section shows him choosing clothes out of the closet in a close up shot of all the sweaters, trying one on, and going through his jewelry box. Then the hand with the blue nail polish shows up for the first time. The hand is the only other character in the video and only appears briefly a few times. In this one, their hands brush past each other for the "but then again kinda wish she were dead" lyric. It's hard to tell what exactly the hand means. This shot and lyric match up, and how hard the hand falls when he says "dead", kinda makes you think it's representing Heather, but as the song progresses, the hand starts to take on a new meaning.
The video continues with Conan picking out a giant barrette and trying it out. The original sweater is rejected and there's are a couple shots of him in a button down and pajama pants. Interestingly, every time he says "die" in the song, something goes into sudden free fall. Like the hand, this time when he sings, "I die", he falls out of the air spontaneously and sorta drifts towards the mattress. Everything that happens in this video is at dream speed.
In the next section, Conan finally finds the outfit in the photo. There are some really pretty shots of his shadow twirling against the living room wall. I'm generally a sucker for twirling and skirts that twirl well, but their use of shadow through this entire video is one of its strongest points. The choice creates some of the most striking stills. It's in this sequence of actually putting on everything that is in the final photo that the hand comes back. This time, he's holding the hand up against his face and sort of cradling it and then there's another shot of him lying down and the hand caressing his face and playing with his hair. In these final shots in arguably the most vulnerable portion of the video, the hands almost seem to represent more a connection with femininity and an acceptance of that than it does a character in the song itself. That seems to be the entire crux of the video. It could be said that the outfit choices and progression are some attempt at becoming more like Heather to fulfill the "wish I were Heather" lyric, but these choices feel separate and like its own empowerment journey of trying on different outfits, feeling some amount of hesitation, and then completely owning the outfit you want to wear. And looking amazing while doing it. There's too much fear and reservation in the movements to make me think this end sequence has anything to do with Heather.
We get to watch Conan pose for the mirror and take the photo and then the video ends with a shot of the phone showing the Instagram photo. I wonder who's phone they used or whose account they took the photo from because if you look at the profile picture, it's not Conan's public account and it does have that red dot that shows they have notifications on other accounts. It's just a random detail, but I always find those things interesting. In other random details, the million houseplants that make cameos through the video prove that they've all survived the last couple years. And Conan's apartment is really, really beautiful and has an amazing view.
Overall, the "Heather" video isn't what I was expecting at all, but it's somehow better than I imagined it could be. I'm always the most invested in videos that show some deeper emotional journey. I have similar feelings about this video as I do to Harry Styles's "Lights Up" which also pulls a pervasive sense of vulnerability out of a ton of interconnected artistic shots. I'm glad that Conan took the video in this direction instead of trying to play out the story baked into the song, and I think it came out really well, especially given the limited number of resources for pandemic videos. The editing and artsy shots are truly beautiful and have a delicate feel that makes the video feel much more personal. It's a good reminder that, at the core of the song, there are a lot themes that run deeper than wanting the person that Heather is with. I think the meaning of it can get distorted through so many different trends and the video really brought it back to that quiet, vulnerable place where it started. I'm glad this video exists, and it was fun to get to expand the world around that really awesome Instagram photo.
Tomorrow, on my YouTube channel, I'm discussing Kid Krow track by track. I'll add that video here when it goes live, but if you don't want to miss it, go ahead and subscribe to my channel here and you can watch the full "Heather" video down below.
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Directors: Dillion Matthew and Conan Gray
Producers: Dillion Matthew, Conan Gray, and Kendall Mayo
Color Grading: Garrett Seamans
Editor: Dillion Matthew
Direction Assistance: Kendall Mayo
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