The video for Zedd’s new single, Beautiful Now, was released Thursday — and it’s pretty deep.
It features five distinct stories woven together to create a theme. But what exactly is that theme? Let’s take a closer look.
First, if you haven’t seen it, the video:
The video starts off with what seems like a breakup gone bad, with a girl apparently having drowned her girlfriend or lover in the pool.
It quickly shifts to an older man in what seems like Central America, saying his goodbyes to people, riding his horse up a tall mountain and then releasing it to continue his journey alone.
The video then cuts to a man who peers out from the roof of his home, only to see a truck full of armed robbers pull up. He avoids them, but his father does not. In a scene soon after, the man retrieves a handgun for possible revenge.
Next we see Zedd’s character (Thug Zedd!), who is stealing booze from a convenience store. When confronted by the store manager, he reacts with a shove and then pulls out a knife.
Finally, we encounter a distraught girl who is ready to end her life by lying on railroad tracks. She awaits a train as the chorus hits.
Suddenly, the screen is filled with scenes that are very unlike the ones we just watched. There’s dancing, smiles, laughter, rejoicing. There’s family and friendship and love. Those are the things most of us would think are beautiful.
The video cuts back to the suicidal girl, who miraculously has survived the train passing over her. She doesn’t know what to make of it. She’s confused, sick, upset — but seems to realize she’s been given a second chance.
Meanwhile, the old man continues climbing the mountain, a quest which is becoming more perilous. He soon loses his grip and falls. Thug Zedd and his buddies run away from the store, escaping before the police can arrive. And the man whose family was robbed seeks out the criminals, interrupting their gathering by pointing a gun at them.
Just like that, we’re back to those scenes of joy and happiness. Clearly, all of our characters have enjoyed much better times than they are now.
But wait! Not all is lost. The girl we thought was left to die by her lover is pulled from the water. That causes the ex to look at herself in the mirror as Jon Bellion sings, “You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful.”
Thug Zedd, too, is pausing to evaluate his actions and life. How did he sink this far? As he sits in bleachers and examines the knife blade, he sees a reflection of himself. “You’re beautiful now,” the song says.
The suicidal girl looks at herself in the reflection of a window. The old man, having fallen from the mountain, sees himself in the reflection of a puddle. And as he points a gun at the criminals, the armed robbery victim sneaks a peek at himself in a mirror.
That’s the last we see of the current state of our characters, but we get another flashback of their happier times.
What does it all mean? In their darkest moments and most challenging situations — some they’re certainly not proud of — maybe we are to assume the message is they’re still beautiful.
If viewed through that lens, the video ends on a hopeful note. Perhaps the girlfriend survives and the ex somehow realizes the gravity of what she’s done. Thug Zedd changes his ways. The old man doesn’t give up on his quest to climb the mountain and makes it. The robbery victim doesn’t take revenge on the thieves by killing them, but brings them to justice. And the suicidal girl realizes it’s not worth it and decides to live.
At least those are the most favorable outcomes to the story.
So what’s the ultimate meaning of the Beautiful Now video? Perhaps it’s this: We’re all beautiful, and even when things look their worst or we do ugly things, there’s still a chance to see that beauty in all of us as well as life itself.
Update: Did we get it right? The video’s director, Jonathan Desbiens (aka Jodeb), weighs in:
@jeff_gluck Wow thx, read it all! It’s obviously open to interpretation, but your text shows me the video worked! Yep I’d say it’s right!
— Jonathan Desbiens (@_Jodeb_) June 11, 2015