Screens /// Sounds x
Conan Gray

‘Maniac’ shows that the singer is a force to be reckoned with, in dating and in the music industry.

Angry Conan Gray is the best Conan Gray. His new single “Maniac” proves that statement true more than ever.

Gray recently dropped his single “Maniac” to hype up his Comfort Crowd tour, which began earlier this week. To make this release more special than all the others, Gray went all out with his music video, featuring Jessica Barden from Netflix’s “The End of the F***ing World.” The video earned over a million views in four days.

Conan Gray has never been lucky in love, and he’s not afraid to share his feelings. The song starts with a whisper of “maniac,” which seems to travel from the listener’s right ear to the left ear. This is the first moment of incredible production in the song; headphones are a MUST to truly appreciate this masterpiece.

The opening lines of the song are intense, immediately setting the scene. “You were with your friends, partying / when the alcohol kicked in / said you wanted me dead.” He sounds angry even in these lines, before he explains the rest of the situation.

Gray taps into his anger in the chorus. “Tell all of your friends that I’m crazy and drive you mad / that I’m such a stalker, a watcher, a psychopath!” He calls out this person who hurt him, unafraid to expose the truth. “And tell ’em you hate me and dated me just for laughs / so, why do you call me and tell me you want me back? / You maniac!” Gray expresses his hate but makes sure the blame stays on the true culprit. It gives off the same energy as his earlier single “Checkmate,” where he attacks the person who broke his heart.

After the chorus, the song is carried by the production until the second verse. It’s all bright sounds and fast beats, a complete opposite of what the lyrics might suggest.

Conan Gray continues his roast session of this mysterious heartbreaker, mocking them in the second verse while acknowledging how he gives into the temptation of helping the heartbreaker. “Now you’re breakin’ my heart / so, I show up at your place right away / Wipe the tears off of your face / while you beg me to stay.” Both of them are hypocrites, saying they hate the other while truly feeling anything but.

However, in the bridge, Gray snaps back to reality, finally accepting that this relationship is doomed. “Psychopathic, don’t be so dramatic / We had magic, but you made it tragic.” Here he comes to his senses, remembering that this partner is the problem, not Gray, who genuinely tried his best. Yes, this song is biased in Gray’s favor, but the guy wrote the song — cut him some slack.

He continues, “Now you’re manic, honestly, I’ve had it / listen to yourself, think you need to get some help.” Call them out Gray!

A great song deserves a great music video, and Conan Gray delivered. The video for “Maniac” is a mini horror movie, playing into the release date near Halloween. In the video, from the alignment of the stars and the blood moon, Barden’s ex-boyfriends have risen up from the dead for one night of terror. Scott Pilgrim-style, she and Gray have to fight them off and survive until morning.

Viewers meet four exes: the meathead, the nice guy, the art boy and the dreamboat.

As described by the text in the music video, the meathead “played QB in college, drinks too much beer, cries in the shower.” While Gray runs away from him, Barden takes him down with a steamer.

The nice guy and the art boy appear very quickly after each other. The nice guy “just wants a hug” and “proposed last semester.” The art boy “writes poems about Jess” and “only listens to vinyl.” These two don’t fight. Clearly, they’re “too nice.”

Viewers are then shown the scariest ex of all: the dreamboat. He’s the only one that Barden actually wants back, the only one she doesn’t want to fight against. He gets no written description, but it’s clear that this guy is Barden’s version of the heartbreaker from Gray’s lyrics. This scene plays over the bridge and the immediate chorus, the softest part of the song. Dreamy vocals, dreamy production, dreamy man: Gray snaps both viewers and Barden back to reality with his lyrics, and by smashing a gumball machine over the dreamboat’s head.

Barden and Gray make a dynamic pair throughout the music video, the two consistently looking out for each other. They seem to be best friends rather than romantically involved, the only part that breaks from the “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” theme of the video.

In between all of this fighting, fans are treated to Gray lip-syncing and dancing on a stage with a microphone stand. Gray is a self-proclaimed “noodle dancer,” meaning he flops around like a noodle when he performs. In an interview with Billboard, Gray said his “favorite dance move is “wiggling … just like a little noodle!”

This is the first fans have gotten to see of his noodle dancing in a while, as his most recent videos have only had short clips sparingly placed. Though unlikely the intention, it hypes fans (or at least this fan) for his Comfort Crowd tour.

If fans want to see more of Gray, they can catch him in one of the 26 cities across North America. In his first shows, he has played a set of 14 songs, including everything from big hits to unreleased tracks to covers. Hits include songs like “The King” and “Generation Why” from his “Sunset Season” EP. Gray also plays “The Story,” which is an unreleased track, and a cover of “Burnin’ Up” by the Jonas Brothers.

“Maniac” made it to track 11 in the setlist, nearing the end of the show. Unsurprisingly, the show ended with “Crush Culture,” which is his biggest hit yet, having over 34 million plays on Spotify. For reference, his next most popular song is “Generation Why,” which has over 26 million plays.

Gray continues to blow us away with all of his music, but I have to admit “Maniac” has shown a different side of the singer that’s pretty great.

Leave a Reply