You guys! When was the last time we got a proper video from Rufus Wainwright? A long time, that’s when!
But now he’s back with “Out of the Game,” the title track from his upcoming new album. The song, produced by Mark Ronson, is a mid-tempo shuffle that sounds like classic 70s rock with a gospel-shout chorus. Lyrically, Rufus seems to be talking to a pretty young thing about why they can’t be together. Rufus is too old for this kid, and the beautiful young boy will just go join the wild, slutty world anyway. But Rufus wants to smell him one more time before he goes.
That weary sexiness defines the video, which stars Helena Bonham Carter as a lonley librarian wandering her nearly-empty domain. The only people reading today are members of a trashy band (all played by Wainwright, in a variety of delightful wigs.) But those kids just sneak smokes and booze while they photocopy trashy pages from Valley of the Dolls. They don’t even appreciate what she does!
Still, a librarian has needs, and eventually, she starts having fantasies. By the end of the video, she’s writhing she’s imagining an orgy among the bandmates. This means that Rufus Wainwright is having an orgy with himself, of course, and that leads to some very clever camera angles that recall the grand tradition of self-kissing from Pink’s “Sober” video.
Or could the orgy be real? Is it possible the librarian’s not just imagining it? The video is teasing us, and half the fun is deciding what we believe.
Mark Blankenship has written about pop music for NPR and The New York Times, and you can follow him on Twitter at @IAmBlankenship. He only thinks about sex for research purposes. Honest.