source: @zaynmalik /Twitter
I’ve got this playlist in my phone called “rain”; & it’s essentially a collection of songs I can chill out to when it’s raining & I’m among the trees & everything just sounds & smells so free. Petrichor. Home. Unfortunately, 2020 hasn’t really offered any of us much opportunities to bask in that experience. But, Zayn changed that. “Better” sounds like the first rain on a starving soil, & I absolutely love it.
It opens with earthy colours & a soft instrumental. Z sings “hope I only leave good vibes on your living room floor” & I’m instantly hooked — for (1) it’s Z; & (2) that’s such an honest & beautiful lyric & the way he sings it leaves me breathless. He’s got red streaks in his hair, he’s shirtless, his eyes are closed, & he looks so open. !&, this is the moment when he sings “’cause I finally got out / yeah we finally knocked down” & I feel so happy for him because this reads so loudly that he’s been doing better. Next, there are large trees & wide windows & we’re watching him through those windows. I read this as a reinforcement of the idea of him being more open: yes, we are watching him through a window (there’s a boundary) but he’s letting us in. This is a theme which runs through the entire video: (1) We get a lot of close-up shots of his face in the video, both while he’s singing & when he’s not. These shots gives us access to what he’s feeling (or was feeling) when he first sung the song. & (2) Throughout the music video, we get shots of Z in the process of recording the song. This creates intimacy between him & us because it gives off the feeling that instead of watching a polished perfectly produced final product; we are watching him while he’s in the zone & first signing the song.
In one shot, there’s a person with binoculars who zooms in on Z; but Z turns around & continues dressing up. I read this shot as an allusion to media scrutiny; but now Z has just learned to live with it & isn’t as bothered by it. However, few scenes down we get another shot of a person with a camera(?). I’m not sure how to read this one. [I would love to know what you think!]
The beat in the back, the soulful & stunningly beautiful lyrics, & Z: in “Better” that’s a perfect combination & it makes me shiver because it just hits so fucking good. The chorus is so well arranged & it’s stuck in my head. & god, the way the song ends (“why wait to hate? / can we save love?”) by slowly fading out; & in the video, Z looks outside the window & the camera gently zooms out & the way it looks like he’s walking towards us & then we are left looking inside the room (a room which has no door).
I’ve adored pretty much every song Z has put out till date; but this one, this one feels different. It feels more special because it sounds so honest & that’s something I love in a song. & if this is the first glimpse of what Z3 is going to sound like?– I absolutely can’t wait.
rating: greatest thing since sliced bread
[alsO, I can’t mention Z & not say this: Z, (if he someday reads this,,,,) I’m so so happy for you & Gigi & I wish you all the love & happiness in the world. Congratulations!!!!]