Listen to Sufjan Stevens’ new song “Video Game”
We're about a month and a half away from the arrival of Sufjan Stevens' highly anticipated Carrie & Lowell followup, The Ascension (due 9/25 via Asthmatic Kitty), and following the release of the 12-minute album closer "America" and its ten-minute b-side "My Rajneesh" comes the album's second single, "Video Game." It's an upbeat yet subtle synthpop offering, and it sounds like it finds Sufjan wrestling with his own celebrity and mythology: "I don't wanna be your personal Jesus... I don't wanna be the center of the universe... I don't care if everybody else is into it, I don't care if it's a popular refrain, I don't wanna be a puppet in a theater." It's another great Sufjan song, and it comes with a video directed by Nicole Ginelli, starring and choreographed by viral Renegade dance creator Jalaiah Harmon, and featuring nostalgic '80s-style video game imagery.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a society where the value of people is quantified by likes, followers, listeners and views. So many people are seeking attention for the wrong reasons. I think we should all be doing our best work without looking for accolades or seeking reward.
The main takeaway of ‘Video Game’ for me is: your worth (invaluable) should never be based on other people’s approval (ephemeral). Just be yourself. Keep it real. Keep it moving. Do all things with absolute purity, love and joy. And always do your best.
Jalaiah epitomizes all of this and I’m truly inspired by her. So I thought, ‘what if we could get Jalaiah to star in a “dance video” about not wanting to star in a “dance video?”’ I’m so honored she agreed. She clearly owns it, and her work here is beautiful, poignant and true.
Her dance shows incredible energy, work-ethic and spirit. She is dancing for herself, not anyone else. Her choreography is sophisticated, nuanced, and fun. She is a star. She keeps it real. She keeps it moving. She keeps it true. What a blessing!
This was my first time being asked to create choreo for a whole song. So I was a little nervous in the beginning, but once I really broke the song into parts and listened to the lyrics over and over, I just put moves together that connected to the words and felt natural for me to do. I think I’m still really trying to get used to this kind of success, so I can’t really define it just yet. I just know that when you work hard and you treat others with kindness and fairness, good things come back to you.
Listen and watch the video for "Video Game" below.
Sufjan also contributed to Mina Tindle's upcoming album and sings on her recently released single "Give A Little Love."