Lily McQueen often finds herself falling down an 80s rabbit hole when writing songs. She composes soaring melodies about matters of the heart, using Tears for Fears-esque synths and bubblegum lyrics to mix love with heartbreak. "I always think of them as that 'end of the movie' song," McQueen tells i-D. "Where it's the slow-mo, high drama, walk up to each other and kiss moment."
Which is why the singer-songwriter teamed up with Adinah Dancyger, a close friend from college, to pen a visual love letter to 80s proms for her new music video. The duo drew upon their vast collection of shared 80s references for McQueen's "Chasing Your Love" visual. The song comes from McQueen's upcoming studio album Electric Love, out June 23. The oversaturated, fantastical video features McQueen staring longingly at a boy. Look closely and you'll spot nods to Carrie, Heathers, John Hughes films, Spike Jonze's early stuff, The Little Mermaid's "Under the Sea," and Prince. To name just a few inspirations.
"Disney and Phil Collins soundtracks are always seeping into my music," McQueen beams. "It's just what I was raised on!"
Her musical upbringing is obvious in her multilayered harmonies, nostalgic electric guitars, and choruses that get stuck in your head after just one listen. The untainted joy and longing McQueen conveys in "Chasing Your Love," singing about a boy she knows she'll never have, sounds delightfully similar to the kind Ariel delivers in "Part of Your World."
But McQueen says she didn't intend to write a love song perfect for the summer — she was just messing around on her laptop. "I had just gotten Logic Pro on my computer and it was like a new toy to me," she says. "As I started to build the song, it just allowed me to sing these things I was feeling at the time — which was unrequited love."
For the video, McQueen and Dancyger rounded up their friends and threw one big prom inside a high school gym. McQueen enlisted her friend Errol Bilgin, who also creates 80s pop-inspired music, for the role of "Lover Boy." "The song is a daydream about unrequited love," McQueen says. "It's dreamy and delusional, which is why we wanted to have this dreamy boy who may or may not be real."
At the close of the night, McQueen ends up with the boy — the two coming together as a chorus sings behind them. With baby's breath flowers tucked into afros and glitter and sequins galore, the moment is a teenage dream come true. No word on if the video's ending was inspired by the 80s or McQueen's life, however.
Text André-Naquian Wheeler
Photography Owen Campbell