French filmmaker and musician Yoann Lemoine, professionally known as Woodkid, made his name in the industry for directing music videos for many prominent artists including Harry Styles, Taylor swift, Katy Perry, and Lana Del Rey. So it comes as no surprise that Lemoine’s puts a great deal of thought and effort into videos for his own musical projects.
With the arrival of Lemoine’s sophomore album came an incredible music video for the introductory song, “Goliath”—which was later nominated by the Grammy Awards for best music video of the year. Set in the expansive coal mines of the Czech Republic, the video draws attention to the unsustainability of our current world practices that humanity is blind to. This project is truly a masterpiece in which musical and visual elements work together seamlessly, all while bringing an important environmental issue to light.
The long-awaited project was a perfect successor to Lemoine’s first album, “The Golden Age.” This album deals with the beauty and wonder of one’s childhood, and the bitter-sweetness of growing out of adolescence. Lemoine picked up right where he left off with this new album, which deals with the harsh reality of the world and the problems we face with no longer being an innocent child. As Jack Hedley described perfectly in his “Hey Nineteen” music blog: “if The Golden Age was about leaving boyhood, ‘Goliath’ is the world seen for what it is. Those same youthful eyes are seeing for the first time the dirty, industrial underbelly that makes everything we do possible. ‘Goliath’ grapples with the fact that all our culture and society comes from a place of rampant, insatiable destruction of the natural world.”
When asked about Goliath’s overarching themes in an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, Lemoine had this to say:
“It is a song that talks about the notion of dominating and dominated and the hope that the individual can fight the great forces. In the coal mine of the video, we can see a lot of things—the smallness of man in the face of the ecological challenge, in the face of the rise of the extreme right in our countries, which terrifies me and makes me angry.” (English translation)
From this explanation, it is safe to assume Lemoine took inspiration for the song’s title from the biblical story “David and Goliath,” where an underdog child named David defeats a monstrous brute, Goliath, in battle. In Lemoine’s music video, “Goliath” stands for the environmental and sustainability issues that humanity faces, represented by the coal-monster pictured at the end. Although the video seems to have a dismal and pessimistic conclusion, the song’s title and Lemoine’s interview both suggest that we are not hopeless; with enough faith and hard work, we can conquer this environmental monster.
Personally, I am blown away with how seamlessly Lemoine blends music and video to create a single, powerful experience—along with how well the musical elements play into the story that the video tells.
The song starts with what seems to be a percussionist hitting a metal container filled with liquid—and as the liquid moves, it changes the pitch and timbre of the instrument. This effect in combination with dynamic changes conveys a feeling of uneasiness and malaise. Visually, this is accompanied perfectly with a long focal length, shallow depth of field, and shaky camera-work; showing us specific important elements with lots of movement to further solidify the unsettling feeling. When the synth is introduced, the vehicle and passengers sway to the rhythm of the instrument. The synth itself sounds very artificial; comparable to the noises created by industrial machinery. Finally, the “4-on-the-floor” machine-like beat comes in along with an ominous brass accompaniment, and the terrifying coal mine landscape is revealed to the viewer.
Lemoine’s timing of visual, musical, and lyrical elements is spectacular throughout the video as well. This is seen in very minor details such as the coal vibrating along to the beat, or the instrumentation decreasing as the background fades to black. However, the timing is also evident in the bigger, overarching themes of the narrative.
Both times when Lemoine sings the line “how could you be so blind?” the video shows the main character staring off into the distance at a terrifying sight—first the coal rig tearing up the ground, and then the devastated landscape surrounding a massive factory later in the video. However even after observing these things, he keeps the same lifeless expression as if he was seeing nothing at all. It is not until the end of the video where he is faced with the giant coal-fed monster does his expression change, as if he is no longer blind and is finally seeing reality for the first time. This conclusion is accompanied musically with the intense orchestral climax of the song, further solidifying the emotions and story portrayed with the video.
Through these examples, it is evident that Goliath’s music video is the perfect example of multiple mediums working together effectively to create a more powerful experience than if it were just one or the other.
YouTube’s comment section is always a great place to see what people think of a video—and Goliath seems to have an overwhelmingly positive response with viewers. Although many recent comments are related to the Grammy’s, other users leave insightful comments on the video’s artistic elements.
While many viewers expressed their appreciation of the music video, others voiced their personal theories on thematic elements between Lemoine’s two albums.
One user commented the following:
In this comment, ChemicalDeviantX refers to Woodkid’s song “Run Boy Run” off his first album. The music video for this song features a young child, seemingly powerless, gaining the courage to take on the world. ChemicalDeviantX creates a theory that this boy seen in the “Run Boy Run” video grows up to be the miner seen in “Goliath.”
Ultimately, though, it seemed like Lemoine’s main goal of this project was to raise awareness of the ecological and environmental issues that humanity faces today that we are seemingly blind to—and it seems like he has achieved this objective. Many users in the comment section voiced their concern on the video’s implications, with one particular user going as far to say:
Good job Mr. Lemoine you should have won the Grammy