St. Vincent’s New Music Video Has Fans Divided


The Dallas-bred Annie Clark of St. Vincent fame announced a forthcoming new album on Thursday morning, All Born Screaming. The alt-rock musician’s extensive list of collaborators on this project includes Dave Grohl, Cate Le Bon, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Josh Freese, Stella Mozgawa, Rachel Eckroth, Mark Guiliana and David Ralicke. Clark has worked with some of the most highly coveted record producers in the game, including Jack Antoff and fellow Dallasite John Congleton. But All Born Screaming will be the first she’s produced herself.

The album was announced Thursday afternoon along with the release of a video for her first single, “Broken Man,” which centered on a bold concept that’s causing quite a bit of controversy online.

The single is strong, Clark’s mastery of melodic suspense builds from a slow start into a particularly ferocious and powerful ending. The video, however, features a highly realistic depiction of St. Vincent spontaneously combusting into intermittent flames. The choreography as her body seemingly burns from head to toe is eerily similar to the thrashing and violent sight of a person engulfed in fire.

It’s not a terrible concept. It’s actually pretty cool, and nudges toward a darker, angrier sound from the revered guitar songstress. But the timing is objectively risky.

Just last week, the news was dominated by the horrific story of U.S. Airman Aaron Bushnell, who live-streamed his own death by self-immolation outside the Israeli embassy. Censored and uncensored versions alike of the gruesome footage have been shared widely. So, naturally, watching someone burn alive is a sensitive topic right now — a fresh wound on the public consciousness, if you will.

The comments posted on Clark’s social media show that fans are pretty split. Some defend her artistic vision, and others raise cries of cultural insensitivity.

On Instagram, detractors accuse Clark of either a tone-deaf approach or just plain bad taste: “Was there nobody on your team who watches the news and could’ve told you to scrap this artwork?” wrote one user.

“Maybe it’s just me but this pic … after someone just self-immolated … I’m sure it was taken before that happened but it’s not the move for me,” another wrote.

“Considering she hasn’t and likely won’t speak out about the genocide and then went ahead and still released this photo after the events that happened this week, tells me all I need to know about an artist I used to have a lot of respect for. She has the $ and resources to delay this or change the art and chose not to. Such a shame,” read yet another.

But many of Clark’s fans insist that the singer shouldn’t be derided for her work and vision. Wrote one person: “Art is art. The bad timing adds to the conversation. She shouldn’t have to change the visual interpretation of her song because of current events. Neither does this image take away from the act of protest and heroism by that poor soldier. Both can be true.”

“So many bad comments under this post,” another comment read. “She has been working on this album for years, there’s a concept behind that, they set a date and few days ago [sic] something horrible and heroic at the same time happened. And now you’re making her feel bad? No seriously get over it”

“I love the song and the powerful art. Although not intentional, It seems like perfect timing to draw more attention to Aaron Bushnell, which was the point of his dramatic protest,” read another comment.

Representatives for St. Vincent have not responded to our request for comment from Clark. But come what may of such a polarizing debate, All Born Screaming will be out on April 26.


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