Paul McCartney’s video for the new track “Queenie Eye” starts as a deceivingly casual, aw-shucks affair. “I’m just a normal guy in a denim button-up!” it insists. “Forget the fact that I’m a Beatle, or that I’m worth approximately $650 million. I’m one of you!” McCartney stands in the doorway above a recording engineer, laughing with the ease one only acquires after conquering the world. “Want me to do a take?” he asks, clapping his hands prematurely, the decision already made. I am Sir Paul McCartney, and it will be so…
Hey, what my Beatle wants, my Beatle gets.
After trotting down the stairs, whistling like a schoolboy, McCartney crosses the sparse expanse of wooden floors, Persian rugs, and musical instruments I couldn’t play if you paid me. The recording engineer’s nimble fingers start the track, an opening peculiarly reminiscent of Iggy Azalea’s “Work.” Any further comparison to the blonde lady rapper/ ass twerker ends abruptly when Paul gets down on the piano, playing with his characteristic optimism and buoyancy, tapping his Birkenstocks to the music. Again, so normal!
Yes, it’s just your average day at the historic Abbey Road Studios until – BAM — Johnny Fucking Depp appears at the base of the piano, wearing a typically Johnny Depp outfit, one that makes you question how the man has remained a sex symbol for so long when we all know he sort of dresses like a homeless guido. In true Depp style, he takes himself very seriously, making sure there is something behind his eyes, purpose to his head bobbing, intention in the mere act of listening. Yes, Johnny Depp will act the shit out of a music video.
Oh! Who’s that? Model turned sort-of actress Lily Cole? A Lou Doillon-type brunette interpretive dancing in the background? An old lady reading a book? As if by magic (or celebrity), the room begins to populate with a well-rounded demographic of hip people of all ages: Sienna Miller’s shearling-sporting doppelganger, Tracy Ullman doing some ‘90s raver hand motions, Chris Pine chillin’ out in a beanie, Tom Ford dancing in a chair, shirt unbuttoned, amber-colored aviators in place. Jeremy Irons appears against a wall, looking like a French peasant who has been spared hard labor. Jeremy Irons doesn’t need to do much because Jeremy Irons is a Serious Actor. He smirks and you understand the depth and meaning of the entire universe.
Undoubtedly, my favorite part of the video is the Jude Law cameo, who absolutely nails what it looks like to listen to music like a very cool badass. [Jude Law, this is also what I look like when I listen to music. We obviously have a lot in common, so if you want to meet up with me for a listening party, I have a couch that easily fits two people, a record player, and American Airline frequent flier miles with which to buy your ticket to New York.]
The song’s happy-go-lucky climax culminates with a greater numbers of unknowns flooding the scene: white people, black people, tattooed people. Oh, yeah, and that lady Meryl Streep. To the joy of fashion fiends everywhere and much to my own personal confusion, Kate Moss arrives atop a piano in a pair of booty shorts, taking cues from her own charmingly inept stripper performance in the 2003 video for the White Stripes’ “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself.” And we can’t forget about Sean Penn!
In summation, the video is a namedropping clusterfuck of grand proportions, filled with – if not entirely based upon – all of the aforementioned directionless cameos. [In my opinion, if you want to talk about the successful utilization of a famous person in a music video, you must look no further than Christopher Walken in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice.”] Though McCartney has certainly transcended the travails of criticism and, frankly, it doesn’t matter whether people actually like this video, it makes me wish the director (who happens to be McCartney’s son-in-law, if that explains anything) had been a teeny bit more creative with the concept board. Take away the celebrities and all you’ve got are an ethnically diverse group of people hanging out in a studio together, which doesn’t feel much different than a Samsung commercial.
What is remarkable, however, are the shit-eating grins worn by the likes of Depp, Streep, and Irons – untouchable pillars of pop culture who, just like every other nobody in that room, can’t believe they’re in that room. “Here Comes The Sun,” “Come Together,” “I Want You.” Abbey Freaking Road. No matter how old you are or where you grew up, at one point or another you lived with these songs from that place. If the video accomplishes anything, it’s to prove that Paul McCartney – despite his friendly demeanor, the denim button-up, the Birkenstocks – would never, could never, should never be a normal guy. Legends rarely can be.