Music & Culture

Japanese Breakfast’s “Posing In Bondage” Video Explores The Joy Of Intimacy

When Japanese Breakfast‘s Michelle Zauner declared the video for her new single “Posing in Bondage” as the best music video she’s ever made, it quickly turned heads. A brief glance at the YouTube cover image — or any shot from the video — reveals why.

The “Posing In Bondage” (a track from her impending third album, Jubilee) video is a touching and creepy depiction of love and bonding in a big and lonely world. Zauner and team filmed after dark in an empty L.A. Grocery Store. Harmony Tividad of Girlpool is the only other person on screen with Zauner, portraying the cashier.

As the video begins, the air of suspense is partially masked by what sounds like upbeat background music (it’s really a reprise of Japanese Breakfast’s single “Be Sweet”). There is a chilling moment when we see Zauner’s blank face covered in blood as a chord with dark overtones marks the very beginning of the track. However, the music instantly shifts when a softer note in a higher register fades in at the end of this chord. This ties it into the calming next chord and sets the tone for the rest of the song.

As Zauner sings, “Done up and fixed on / all of the nights you turned away my touch,” we come to understand that when our needs for human intimacy are not met, we often put up a display to distract from our weaknesses. Those who are attuned to others’ subtle (or not-so-subtle) emotional “tells” will see right through that. However, as we will come to see, this song celebrates such vulnerability, suggesting that someone seeing you through your facade can actually be a beautiful thing.

As we enter the second verse, which is sonically brighter, Zauner and Tividad approach each other from across the store. As they meet, they hold each other’s gaze steadily while Tividad feeds Zauner instant ramen. It appears that they are truly seeing each other, learning each other, and drinking each other in. At this point, it becomes clear that eating is an analogy for physical intimacy and affection.

After Tividad and Zauner are joined together, the pacing of the video shifts to be more upbeat. By the time the bridge comes in, we feel euphoric release. We see them smiling and laughing for the first time in the whole video. At the same time, we see Zauner singing into the camera from a different angle than earlier in the video. Seeing her and Tividad framed from a different perspective while the store is still as dank and dilapidated as ever serves as a necessary contrast and metaphor – love may not change the world, but it can change your experience of it.

The ending finds our pair contentedly eating instant ramen together on an umbrella table. They may not be smiling or making eye contact as they eat, but they are together. Zauner’s artistic vision is clear. There is joy in reciprocal vulnerability; there is joy in the company of loved ones. Love is a jubilee.

Featured Image: Instagram (@jbrekkie)