While The Maine may hold the reputation of catering toward young, Warped Tour-attending audiences, it deserves credit where credit is due—the band has shown more growth between its first full-length album in 2008 and its latest 2015 release, American Candy, than most do in a lifetime. Starting with a repertoire of sugary alt-pop anthems, the band followed frontman John O’Callaghan into a period of introspective and dark productions. American Candy is the combination and true culmination of these two phases in the band’s history, pairing O’Callaghan’s reflective, sober lyrics with the earnest pop score that attracted its first waves of fans.
The Maine’s newest music video, “Am I Pretty?” perfectly exemplifies this newfound niche the band is exploring. The video opens with black and white images of the band’s equipment accompanied by a quiet voiceover playing. “I was born an only child to a single mother. Some of my first memories in life are sleeping in cars,” the narrator says before his face is revealed. The young man stands in the center of an empty frame, visibly bearing the signs of social stigma against him: facial tattoos and piercings, long hair, and a backwards baseball cap. “People tell me I’m goin’ nowhere in my life,” he says as his voice breaks. “People tell me that I’m never going to amount to anything.”
He’s not the only one to speak to his insecurities, however—other strangers speak to challenges they face due to their race, sexuality, and disabilities in a state of heart-wrenching honesty before the band even appears. As The Maine steps into the frame, color slowly seeps into the screen, and an upbeat guitar riff begins. Primed to hear tragedy, the viewer hears painfully relatable lyrics as O’Callaghan asks whether he fits into society, and how he can better conform.
Yet even as these somber lyrics play, the screen is alight with band members and candid strangers dancing in a safe space of inclusiveness, in a way best described as carelessly goofy. It’s a joyous, beautiful celebration of their insecurities. The video ends in black and white, with the same people stating where and how they find joy in their lives. The final line: “I am pretty!”
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