Washes of bright magenta and fiery red distinguish fantasy from reality in the new video from Mau Lynx, the electronic pop solo project of Puerto Rican musician Joséan Alicea. “Only You,” the first video released from Next Year, his sophomore record, juxtaposes variations of red with white lighting to reveal a sensual encounter is actually a dream — but, as director Félix De Portu notes, there are other details are up for interpretation.
The track’s underscoring dark, deep synth serves as a portent of an unhealthy, maybe even dangerous, romantic obsession. Alicea, who co-wrote the track with featured guest Rosamalia Pérez, confirms the lyrics detail a man’s twisted passion for a woman in spite of her lack of interest. In the video, however, it’s not made clear whose mind narrating the tale; the specifics are decidedly blurred. “We wanted to keep it not-so-apparent, to give the viewer a chance to interpret it by themselves and think of the outcome,” Alicea says.
De Portu, co-director Yesenia Rodval, and the rest of the crew from local visual arts company Como Imágenes were given free reign to convey their own understanding of the song, he adds. In the process, “Only You” effectively changed its original meaning. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though; the clip, shot in a single day in a Santurce Airbnb (complete with shots of historic Losa Criolla flooring), is certainly not lacking import. In fact, there’s something pretty revelatory in how we, as viewers, interpret the results.
If, like De Portu explains, the red hues are meant to symbolize “unbridled passion,” then it’s possible the woman — with red hair, shown in a white bathtub filled with water-tinted dusty rose, a blend of reality and dream sequence — is actively engaged, just as the man is. But the opposite is a likelier route for our thoughts, especially if we’re paying attention. While it’s the woman who approaches, the male gaze is prominent; it’s evident even before the two meet. The cues are there, and if you see them, you may be inclined to view the man as obsessed, and the woman as the unwilling object of that obsession — a real-life symptom of the patriarchal society we actually live in.
And for those who don’t see anything but a supremely sensual scene — not a dream at all, but a waking, conscious experience of consensual sex — you might want to recalibrate your media consumption. Are you thinking critically? Whether Alicea and the team intended to or not, with “Only You,” they’ve encouraged us to ensure we all are.