Earlier this year, I spent my 23rd birthday queued up outside the O2 Arena in London, eager to see George Ezra live. The waiting ultimately paid off and I spent the evening squished against the barricade, standing front and center for one of the last nights of his U.K. tour. Knowing that, it feels only fitting that I return the favor and celebrate his 26th birthday by counting down his top five best music videos.
5. “Cassy O'”
Let’s be honest, George is a bit of a weird guy. You’ll know this immediately if you’ve ever seen him in concert or heard him in an interview: he often diverges onto weird tangents and has absolutely absurd ways of phrasing very normal things; it’s part of his charm. As one of his first musical endeavors, “Cassy O'” allowed him to perfectly introduce this personality to his audiences. There’s a consistent motif of O’s throughout the video, from coffee mugs to Fruit Loops to the popular British biscuits, Party Rings. The emphasis on these objects, as George repeats the word “oh” during the chorus, immediately tells audiences that he’s silly enough to make a joke. Simultaneously, the references to orgasms and the middle finger at the end reveal that he’s a bit cheeky too. This contrast makes “Cassy O'” a perfect primer to George’s personality and a great first music video.
4. “Hold My Girl”
“Hold My Girl” is one of George’s more serious singles. He begins the video by staring forlornly into the camera and as the song progresses, is trapped in a locked room that slowly fills with water until he’s eventually drowning. This elaborate metaphor of George fighting to survive in the increasingly rough and rising waters reflects the video, which stands out from his other singles on Staying at Tamara’s as much more serious and contemplative, though no less skilled.
3. “Shotgun (Lyric Video)”
While not strictly a music video, “Shotgun (Lyric Video)” is absolutely essential in analyzing George’s video history, as it perfectly encapsulates that cheeky, quirky personality. The song jumps through different settings, whether it be George in front of a crowd on tour, in Central Park or ambiguous brick and concrete buildings. Throughout, George teases the camera and performs dorky little dance moves, playing up that well-known sense of humor. This playful weirdness comes across best in a shot of George playing ping pong, when the ball’s bounce is heard on the downbeat. This weird and wonderful effect is peak-George Ezra comedy and this video’s colorful mix of personality and emphasis on fans’ adoration makes this video stand out among his catalogue.
2. “Listen to the Man”
Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love a music video starring Sir Ian McKellen? In “Listen to the Man,” the beloved actor is meant to make a brief and silent cameo while George sings to the camera, but over the course of the video, steals the spotlight for himself. It comes to a head at the bridge, when the video stops for George to address him in a comedic sketch, which ultimately ends with them singing together to end the video. The subtle, self-deprecating jokes and insertion of a legend (for no apparent reason) make this video simultaneously funny and quintessentially George Ezra.
1. “Pretty Shining People”
George has truly come into his own over the years, and it shows in his most recent video “Pretty Shining People.” It follows a concept fans will likely have seen before, like in One Direction’s “Best Song Ever,” as a musician battles his corporate label for creative control. “Pretty Shining People” adds George’s signature twist by casting the music executives as children. Throughout the video, the children are unfazed, as George works hard to impress and brainstorm ideas for how to sell his personality as a product. The song’s lyric “Am I losing touch?” feels particularly apt, like George is working to connect to an increasingly young and alienated audience. By the end of the video, however, the young executives embrace the niche George’s carved out for himself and they all celebrate together.
It’s been wonderful to see George Ezra come into his own as an artist over the years and allow his passion for the music to drive his career. Happy birthday, George!
Featured Image: Columbia Records