Sufjan Stevens Critiques Modern Sources Of Self-Worth On ‘Video Game’

Sufjan Stevens’ two most recent songs, “America” and “My Rajneesh,” both ran for over ten minutes. That’s a format in which Stevens works well, but he also thrives in a more traditional runtime. He has proven so today with his latest single from The Ascension, “Video Game.”

Stevens says of the song, a synthy indie-pop track:

“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.”

He went on to praise choreographer and video star Jalaiah Harmon (who is famous for creating the viral “Renegade” dance), saying, “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!”

Stevens described the goal of his upcoming “lush, editorial pop album,” saying, “My objective for this album was simple: Interrogate the world around you. Question anything that doesn’t hold water. Exterminate all bullsh*t. Be part of the solution or get out of the way. Keep it real. Keep it true. Keep it simple. Keep it moving.”

Watch the “Video Game” video above.

The Ascension is out 9/25 via Asthmatic Kitty Records. Pre-order it here.