X Ambassadors's ‘JOYFUL’ is nothing special

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 6:47pm

At the beginning of the new music video for X Ambassadors’s “JOYFUL,” band members move around the inside of an extravagant concert hall. They climb the stage, tap on drums and get ready. Then, all outside noise fades, and the song begins … and they just kind of stay there.

The entire video takes place on the stage of the concert hall, panning between lead singer Sam Harris at the microphone, fellow band members Casey Harris and Adam Levin on keyboard and drums and a backup choir that emerges around halfway through. Things pick up a little with the introduction of the choir, less due to the music video than to the building tension and excitement in the music itself.

It’s not that “JOYFUL” is a bad music video; it’s just that it doesn’t really seem to add anything to the song. X Ambassadors deliver a crisp performance, not unenjoyable to watch, but also not particularly noteworthy. At its best, a music video shouldn’t just be a well-captured performance of a quality song; it should be a way to take what you’re already saying with the song and accentuate it using film, to be more creative with it, to give it dimension. It doesn’t really feel like X Ambassadors accomplished that with “JOYFUL.”

That being said, the video does at least fit nicely alongside the song. The song has a very simple message, and the video delivers it plainly — when Harris sings that he wants to be “joyful and happy, just being alive,” it seems like the video is trying to deliver itself with the same unembellished approach as the song. The straightforward nature of the video underscores this, as it seems to beckon the viewer to immerse themselves in the performance; at the very end, the camera even lifts high above the city, eventually leaving the word “JOYFUL” all by itself in a bright blue sky.

There aren’t any glaring problems with the video for “JOYFUL,” and in many ways it does embody a lot of what the song is already saying. It doesn’t reach very far beyond embodying, though, and this restraint is what unfortunately holds it back from being a standout music video.