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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sylvan Esso proves Animal Crossing is more medium than game now with new "Ferris Wheel" music video

Illustration for article titled Sylvan Esso proves Animal Crossing is more medium than game now with new "Ferris Wheel" music video
Screenshot: Sylvan Esso

When the dust settles on 2020, one of the few things people look back fondly on will be Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a video game whose insistent cheerfulness and ability to let players enjoy a parallel life far removed from their real ones has offered the perfect antidote for a miserable era. It’s only natural, given how incredibly popular the game has become, then, that it’s transitioning from something people play to a vessel for all kinds of artistic expression.


In the past, we’ve seen Animal Crossing used to visit Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion online, as a way for interior designers to pick up extra work, as a concert venue for Toto performances, and as a quarantine-friendly way to host a talk show or hang out with Danny Trejo. Of course, given all of this, we aren’t surprised to see the game-turned-medium used as the format for a new music video for Sylvan Esso’s “Ferris Wheel.”

While Sylvan Esso already released a video for “Ferris Wheel” back in July, that one is clearly inferior since it was shot with boring, fleshy, real people instead of wide-eyed Animal Crossing characters made to look like the band’s Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn. In this much-improved one made in collaboration with Animal Crossing fashion-lovers Crossing The Runway, virtual Meath tours around a carnival, checking out tea cup rides and arcades and shooting off fireworks while the game’s animal-people watch on. Toward the end, Sanborn shows up in a custom-made Sylvan Esso ballcap and t-shirt to help DJ an in-game concert.

The video would’ve worked just fine if it consisted of a basic island tour by a polygonal Meath and Sanborn, but it benefits from having been edited to include more creative shots and moments where the track syncs up with, for example, Meath’s character actually playing a pan flute sample or smacking a tambourine in time to the beat. This is the standard to which we must now hold all other Animal Crossing videos.

“Ferris Wheel” will appear on Sylvan Esso’s forthcoming Free Love, which is out on September 25. There’s no word yet on whether the band plans to do the right thing and release the album alongside an accompanying, film-length Animal Crossing music video, but we’ll let you know if we hear anything.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.