Sufjan Stevens implores us to keep it real on “Video Game”, with video starring TikTok sensation Jalaiah Harmon

Sufjan Stevens broke the internet with the release of “America” and the announcement of his new album The Ascension, which is due out next month – and he’s bound to do it again by getting TikTok star Jalaiah Harmon (creator of the ‘renegade’ dance) to star in the video for his new song “Video Game”. Sufjan introduces the song by saying:

“It’s unfortunate that we live in a society where the value of people is quantified by likes, followers, listeners and views. So many people are seeking attention for the wrong reasons. I think we should all be doing our best work without looking for accolades or seeking reward. The main takeaway of ‘Video Game’ for me is: your worth (invaluable) should never be based on other people’s approval (ephemeral). Just be yourself. Keep it real. Keep it moving. Do all things with absolute purity, love and joy. And always do your best.

Much like “America”, the new track is a understated but pointed protest song. Booming drums give force to Sufjan’s quiet defiance, while deliciously light synths dance all around. This comes together magically, making “Video Game” an interesting middle point between his more bombastic electronic work and his stripped-back folk sound.

On the video, Sufjan says:

“Jalaiah epitomizes all of this and I’m truly inspired by her. So I thought, ‘what if we could get Jalaiah to star in a “dance video” about not wanting to star in a “dance video?”’ I’m so honored she agreed. She clearly owns it, and her work here is beautiful, poignant and true.

“Her dance shows incredible energy, work-ethic and spirit. She is dancing for herself, not anyone else. Her choreography is sophisticated, nuanced, and fun. She is a star. She keeps it real. She keeps it moving. She keeps it true. What a blessing!”

Sufjan Stevens’ new album The Ascension comes out on September 25 through Asthmatic Kitty (pre-order).