Rex Orange County has not released solo music since Valentine’s Day of 2019—and before that, April 26, 2017, with his second album, Apricot Princess. If you had to categorize him, it would be impossible deciding between a neo-soul/alternative hip hop mix or indie pop. He breaks boundaries between all of these genres and manages to exist in his own dreamy space, never disappointing his legion of fans.
After a long wait and various cryptic tweets leading up to new music, ROC released the single and music video “10/10” directed by Warren Fu, from his upcoming third album.
— rex orange county (@rexorangecounty) September 12, 2019
Seven seconds short of three minutes, the music video starts out with various loud conversations similar to a high school cafeteria during lunchtime. Rex Orange County walks up to a keyboard in the middle of the room. Once his headphones are put on, all of the noise subsides and it’s just him and his piano.
“10/10” has no intro—ROC’s rich voice goes straight into a verse calmly explaining his struggles in the past year, “I had a year that nearly sent me off the edge / I feel like a five, I can’t pretend / But if I get my s*** together this year / Maybe I’ll be a ten.” A subtle vocoder adorns his voice toward the end of the verse, adding to the 8-bit/video game soundtrack feel of the song.
The camera pans to friends sitting at a table behind him, high fiving, emphasizing the low energy he’s felt during the past year, “I feel like a five, I can’t pretend / But if I get my shit together this year / Maybe I’ll be a ten”
There’s a man smoking a cigarette sitting on a couch behind him, and the camera pans out to reveal that they are all in a living room. Rex Orange County is surrounded by relaxed teenagers/young adults participating in mundane activities while he can’t seem to focus. “10/10” has the same motif as “New House”—Rex being overworked, not putting enough time and care into himself. “I did it again, I did it again / No control over my emotions / One year on and I still can’t focus”
Could this music video’s setting be the metaphorical “new house” he was singing about previously?
‘New House’ out now https://t.co/nsHtuoSDkn
created & produced by Rex Orange County & Ben Baptie
mixed by Ben Baptie
mastered by Ted Jensen
brass section – Michael Underwood, Johnny Woodham & Patrick Hayes pic.twitter.com/crNzImFyxs
— rex orange county (@rexorangecounty) February 14, 2019
After the first chorus, the song shifts to a more quiet and relaxed atmosphere with Rex Orange County leaving the piano and entering the kitchen. For around four bars, the song’s punching synthesizer falls back and we are left with a quiet reflective moment, now a soft synth backing up his relaxed vocals. “When we placing memories in frames / Inviting people ‘round to stay / And always owning up to things, to things”
The camera pulls closer to the fridge and showcase’s a child’s drawing of a ghost, a picture of a dog, and various carryout menus. When the fridge door closes shut, a kid wearing a white bed sheet over there ahead appears as a ghost behind ROC. The kid ghost walks out of frame carrying a fishbowl.
Rex Orange County sets down bread and spreads for a PB&J sandwich on the kitchen table, which has chairs twisted and mingled on top of each other forming a quarter of a circle. Its shape is similar to a DNA helix but could be a physical representation of Rex Orange County’s overworked mind. His voice is now coated in a vocoder, sounding like fruit dipped in honey. Still donning the noise-canceling headphones from before, he sees an already made sandwich and takes that back with him instead, going back into the chaotic living room. The second pre-chorus highlights ROC’s progress: “I’ll give myself a little credit / Since I dealt with all the pain / Yeah, I turned superhero / I’m comin’ in Bruce Wayne”.
Figures wearing yellow Spiderman suits dance in unison. In the background, someone is fixing the light fixtures on the wall. Rex croons the powerful chorus, “Yeah, I did it again, I did it again / But this time I took control / And turned my s*** ’round / Sometimes you gotta cut a b**** out / I’m livin’ again, yeah” off-camera. He’s revealed in the center of the room again, playing guitar while the lights flicker on and off. The heavy guitar makes a more positive turn, shifting to an optimistic view.
The lights are back on, and Rex Orange County sits at the keyboard once again. He’s greeted with the fishbowl from before in front of him, the video slowly fading to black and white while the cerulean fish is the only visible color. ROC ends the song with an outro and finally takes a bite of his sandwich, the mundane and noisy room around him coming back to life as he takes his headphones off.
Featured image via Rex Orange County’s YouTube channel.