Maddie Ross understands the importance of creating authentic music, and the necessity of visible, queer role models. Today, she releases new video “Liv Tyler” – enjoy and share via Youtube – a pop anthem off her debut, full-length album, Never Have I Ever, out May 10 via Sentimental Records.
The “Liv Tyler” video sees Maddie flipping through channels of MTV/VH1/Rom-Com content from her youth, but in her fantasy, all of the clips are queer, diverse, and inclusive. Throughout Maddie’s channel surfing, she comes across an alternate version of the movie She’s All That, only it’s a reverse-makeover into a nerd, and the love interest is a woman. She also flips past an episode of MTV’s Room Raiders (only the host is gender-queer and the contestants are all bisexual), a gay Coca-Cola commercial on the beach, and an interracial lesbian Polly Pocket advertisement. Maddie even sees herself being interviewed on VH1 Behind The Music, and getting Nickelodeon-slimed.
The video concept came from director Zach Siegel, after he and Maddie each reflected on their coming out experiences, the internalized homophobia they had to overcome, and the way media influenced these perceptions by telling them they weren’t normal. The lyrics to “Liv Tyler” depict a female fantasizing about being the girl from the movies, but also struggling to see herself in them. It is 2000s popular media reincarnated in the body of late 2010’s inclusivity. Never Have I Ever bursts at the seams with energy, humor, infectious melodies, confessional lyrics, and abundant references to some of the best hits and movie synchs of the ’90s and ’00s. Yet, while each song is heavily inspired by specific movie scenes, the lyrical content is much more personal. Most of the movies referenced are devoid of the anguish, self-discovery, and eventual pride embedded in the adolescent queer love experience. As Ross puts it, “Never Have I Ever is inspired by a variety of movies, but the story it tells follows a plot of its own. In our wildest fantasies, someone would write an adorable girl-meets-girl rom com, and use the entire album as a score.”