As reported on Stereogum, Bleachers, New York-based indie pop band formed by Jack Antonoff of Fun., came out earlier this month with a soulful cover of Kanye West’s “Only One” and an accompanying video showcasing the group playing in the song in a studio. Shot in black-and-white on an all-white set, the three minute and forty-five second video is visually stunning. A series of tracking shots covers Antonoff on the guitar and vocals, then pans to his keyboardist and saxophonist as they drag their notes through the smoky air. Long shadows dance behind the musicians as they strive to give their take on Kanye West’s 2014 song, noted for being wife Kim Kardashian’s favorite by her husband.
The video has a very subdued, yet emotional feel. Of course, covering West’s ballad, written from the perspective of his late mother to his newborn child, North West, is an unusual move. Antonoff seemed to counter this obvious reality by emphasizing the personal tone of the song even more, slowing down the melody, and relying on simple close-ups of him singing and strumming the guitar to convey the message. The use of soft light on the performers in the sterile-looking room allowed great shadows to cast themselves over the walls, providing a visual manifestation of the spirits of close ones who have passed, yet still watch over us—the central theme of West’s 2014 record. The constant moving of the camera, which flows smoothly through the studio, seems to put us on par with the shadows in the room, not simply watching but also participating in the singing of the song.
All in all the video, and the song, strip down an already mellow and inwardly-focused track to its core. It’s as if Antonoff sought to make to a cover of the song that might last as the definitive radio staple, by eschewing synths and autotune voice effects, and rather having choir-like background vocals, a keyboard also reminiscent of a church organ, and a wailing sax that brings the song back home. The overall “real” feel of the video is far away from the high energy, surrealist style that Antonoff often channels in Fun.
This video came out during some down time for Antonoff, who is due to start touring with Bleachers at the end of May through late August. His group will begin their journey on the East Coast, then make his way out to Calfornia toward the end of July. Only July 22nd the band will be playing a night at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, a large setting for personal songs like these.
Check out the video below to see Antonoff’s take on West’s song about family and forgiveness.