Placebo have gone all out in the video for their latest song ‘Too Many Friends’. In true Placebo style, the song is an unsubtle social commentary – this time on the nature of social media. The lyrical protagonist laments the negative effect social technology has on his life, and the dichotomy of having so many friends, yet still feeling alone.
The applications are to blame \ for all my sorrow, my pain \ and feelin’ so alone\\
I got too many friends \ too many people \ that I’ll never meet \ I’ll never be there for\\
The angst ridden drive of Brian Molko’s vocals make the song almost ridiculous, and it would be were it not for the satirical truth of the song. But this is what Placebo do best, they re-arrange things we take for granted and turn them into emotional food for the fans.
Then of course there’s the amazing video, narrated by Bret Easton Ellis, author of The Rules of Attraction and American Psycho. Ellis is known for writing ambiguous scenarios which are left open to interpretation, and this video is no different. It starts with a young woman, skirt raised, smashing a champagne bottle into the head of an apparent assailant. But as the video takes you through the characters and clues at play, you as the viewer are able to piece together another version of events. Was the man making unwanted sexual moves? Or was he caught in the same predicament as Homer Simpson?
In keeping with the song’s theme, the characters are seen using phones, with the chef using a device similar in look to Google Glass. I’m not sure whether Android had any say in this video, but HTC clearly did. Every single phone being used is the new HTC One, and there is even a slow mo shot of the phone and its logo spinning into view. Michael Bay would be proud, and this obvious product placement seems to go against Placebo’s ethos. As a fan I was disappointed, but also hope that it was a deliberate artistic choice rather than commercial.
Nonetheless, the video is visually stunning and uses slow motion close-ups, with great use of overlayed text to keep giving clues to the plot (Sherlock anyone?). It wouldn’t be Placebo without the themes of sex and drug use; with a powdered substance featured early on, and a character clearly seen using a “nudity augmentation app”’ to perve. The clip is a clever enticement for people to engage with the song, giving it extra depth. The end sees the narrator give the viewer thirty seconds to comment what they think the correct scenario is, or to give another answer. Be prepared for weirdness.
Placebo’s seventh studio album Loud Like Love is due out on September 16, and you can buy ‘Too Many Friends’ now on iTunes.