How is Chicago seen through the eyes of YouTube? Through hours of research, Mason Johnson attempts to answer that very question as if he’s an anthropologist. Except he’s not an anthropologist. He’s an idiot.
The original introduction I wrote for the best music video (and song) in existence was eight thousand words long. It was honest, visceral and raw and so amazing—my introduction, that is—that it made my mother vomit. She couldn’t stop vomiting. She vomited while hanging a printout of my introduction on the fridge. She choked on that vomit and died. My introduction for the best music video (and song!) in existence was to die for.
But it was really long, so I deleted it and decided to let the best music video (AND SONG!) in existence speak for itself. Watch:
Amazing, right? Indescribable, or so it seems. After watching it forty-seven times, the shock has worn off slightly, allowing me to analyze the video, and to figure out why exactly it’s the best music video (AND SONG!!!) in existence. I broke my analysis down into three parts:
Losing You’s beautiful shots of our skyline, Lake Shore Drive and what seems to be one of the cleanest parking lots I’ve ever seen all combine to create the definitive representation of Chicago. Most meaningful of all is the pond-lake-whatever-thing that Jan stands next to intermittently throughout the video. This image is clearly an allegory for love. We’ve got the vicious allure of nature in the sparkling water, along with the raw ugliness of the city in the concrete and, particularly, the pipe behind Jan. That is love people, for your eyes to soak up!
What can you even compare it to? Kanye’s Homecoming? Psh. Psh! Kanye’s got a few more years until he develops the subtle talents of Jan Terri. Homecoming, with its black and white look and cliché shots of the city feels like a college freshmen’s final project for Lame Boring Music Video Class II. Come on, Ye. Fireworks at Navy Pier? Who cares about fireworks?
Lyrically, Losing You isn’t complicated, but I think this is a good thing. It leaves the listener open for an epic story of love and loss that can suit their life. The song evokes emotions hard for the individual listener to come to terms with:
I don’t wanna lose you tonight
You’re the only thing that matters
I don’t wanna lose you this way
Just need your love
And, yes, this is a simple message. But Jan’s genius shines in the simplicity. She understands that listeners–her fans–have complicated lives. That they’ll be forced to come to grips with their own personal pain during this soulful chorus. It’s not easy to come to grips with pain, which is probably why Jan repeats the chorus a total of ten times.
Jan’s writing chops really show in her similes:
My heart is open like an open book, and yours is closed
We were like a merry-go-round going around in circles
She’s taken (in a high-octane, Liam Neeson sorta away) complicated feelings and summed them up in just a couple of words. Wow!
Compare it to another Chicago song like, say, Lake Shore Drive by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah. It’ll make you scoff! What can a song about a road and a few Chicago buildings say about the human heart? Nada. Jan Terri doesn’t need the images lesser bands use in their songwriting–she’s got faceless emotions to emote.
The scenery of Chicago and lyrics combine to make one heck of a video. That’s not all the video is though. We’ve got a lot going on between Jan and her implied lover, Mullet-Motorcycle-Riding-Dude. It’s interesting how Jan & crew were able to tell a story parallel to the lyrics. The story of an apparent limo-stealing thief who falls for a mystery vagrant with nothing but sunglasses and the cojones to park his hog in a no parking zone. Love and life are fleeting though. This is what Jan’s trying to say in the carefully stylized looks of her beau. Even in 1993, a luscious mullet like that and sweet ‘stache wouldn’t be able to stand the tests of time. That mullet (which we shouldn’t judge, we all had one back then) would someday be cut short, just like Jan’s romance with Mullet-Motorcycle-Riding-Dude.
And it is cut short. With another day comes another limo stolen. Jan doesn’t stop there though, she rides straight to the airport where she then steals a plane, a task that was far easier in 1993.
This song, right here, Jan Terri’s Losing You should be Chicago’s official song. Not that other monster.
Bad songs aside, with Losing You’s complicated anti-heroes and the chest-breaking, heart-crushing lyrics, Jan Terri is able to define exactly what it’s like to be human.
Disagree with Mason’s assessment? Fight with him in the comment section about it!
Mason Johnson, CBS Chicago