When St. Vincent debuted her newest track, “The Melting of the Sun,” on Saturday Night Live on April 3, she sat the portrait of a ‘70s superstar in a heavy fur coat and a glittering white and pink dress with her electric guitar in hand. Though it was visually gorgeous, there was a tender, haunting quality to the performance that lay simmering just beneath its surface. A mix of beauty and tragedy simultaneously.
That contradiction takes center stage in song’s accompanying music video, which was released on Wednesday (April 7). Part of the 38-year-old singer/songwriter’s upcoming album Daddy’s Home, which will be released on May 14, the clip instantly fits in well with the album’s already clear aesthetic; it’s a boldly colored, ‘70s-inspired happy-go-lucky dreamscape … or so it first appears.
Co-directed by St. Vincent and Bill Benz, the music video feels instantly reminiscent of Schoolhouse Rock! as it blends old-school animation, with its brightly-hued backgrounds and cute character design, and live performance together. Though it might initially bring back waves of childhood nostalgia, the video’s storyline slowly unveils a much darker side of life that’s never been seen before in any beloved old cartoons.
Instead, it tells the story of the group of heroines referenced in the song — including Marilyn Monroe, Nina Simone, and Joni Mitchell — and compares the stories of gifted female artists and the underlying pain they experienced in the heyday of their entertainment careers to the end of the world.
“It’s just the melting of the sun / I wanna watch you watch it burn,” she sings. “We always knew this day would come / it’s just the melting of the sun.”
In March, St. Vincent told Rolling Stone that the single was her ‘love letter’ to the female artists, especially the ones mentioned. “People tried to quiet them when they were saying something that was righteous or true or hard to hear,” she said. “[That song] in particular is a love letter to strong, brilliant female artists. Each of them survived in an environment that was in a lot of ways hostile to them.”