Years & Years’ Olly Alexander is unapologetic about his sexuality. He’s frank about who he’s singing about in his music and doesn’t shy away from proudly loving his queerness. The brighter Years & Years’ star has gotten, the bolder their music videos have become. “Worship,” the latest single off their 2015 debut album Communion, is their most provocative and shamelessly queer video, yet.
Directed by Matt Lambert, “Worship” finds Alexander sans bandmates, playing a hustler of sorts. The video opens on a Freddie Mercury look-alike, as a car pulls up, presumably looking for a trick. Alexander leads the way into the parking garage before squaring off with the camera’s gaze and, in turn, the audience’s. Ryan Heffington’s choreography captures the frenzied carnal desire Alexander is singing about. Its dark and nuanced study of primal homosexual longing is simultaneously intimidating and alluring. This is a video that would not have existed 10—nay, five years ago. The Freddie Mercury character—with his white tank top, cropped at the chest, and unbuttoned, low-rise jeans—harks back to Bruce LaBruce and Rick Castro’s 1996 film Hustler White, a movie about male prostitutes that solidified the white tank and jeans look as an iconic queer outfit and forced the world to confront this taboo community of men. It, therefore, should come as no coincidence that Lambert has a character like this in “Worship.” His presence amplifies the video’s exploration of corporal lust that spans the spectrum from fear and ecstasy.
Though the shouts in the video are muffled by the song, the message of looking intolerance right in the eye and screaming at it is not lost. It’s louder and more unapologetic than it’s ever been.