In an effort to bring you more joy, we wanted to share a few of our favorite music videos—both the coolest new releases and older clips from AAPI artists we think just don’t get enough mainstream play. This week’s theme: Songs for a broken heart. Have a video you think we should know about? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Sleepwalking’ by Faye Nightingale (2020): Lyrics that will punch you in the feels
You never know when a song will punch you in the feels.
Faye Nightingale’s music combines atmospheric soundscapes with ethereal and haunting vocals. Born and raised in Thailand, Nightingale’s songs tell stories of loss, solitude and nostalgia—all of which has created her pattern of uprooting her life to move from one city to the next every time things start to get comfortable (she’s currently based in Los Angeles). Nightingale describes her vocal sound and style as similar to Billie Eilish, Norah Jones and Ellie Goulding.
“Sleepwalking” definitely puts the “alt” in alt-pop, and it took a few listens to grow on me—Nightingale’s style is pretty different from the mainstream stuff I’m used to hearing on the radio. The single is a beautiful song about not being able to get over someone because they won’t let you (been there, definitely.) Her lyrics, “You’re an itch underneath my skin/You’re the scar that keeps on stinging/Even when I try to let you fade away,” have a Taylor Swift relatability that hits you right in the feels and takes you back to those moments when you least expect it.
‘Ugly’ by Deb Never (2019): Hijinks set to heartbreak
As a young girl with social anxiety so severe she couldn’t speak, music became Deb Never’s way of expressing herself. She grew up moving around the Pacific Northwest, standing in line at women’s shelters as her mother, a nurse, worked to make ends meet. Her father was a Korean Presbyterian pastor who often did missionary work in East Asia.
Never began writing songs at 15 on a guitar stolen from a church band in South Korea. It’s hard to categorize her music, which reflects the grunge, emo and rap of her younger years. She has a flow and cadence that is slightly reminiscent of Post Malone. However you describe Never’s music, it’s honest.
“Ugly,” from Never’s 2019 EP House on Wheels, tells the story of a relationship that’s ending while one person tries to hang on to those feelings of love. Never sings, “You don't want me but I need you/I guess I fell for you just to get rid of the pain/Can't help but do it all over again.” When you set this vulnerability to the hijinks of Never and her dog crew as they make mischief in the sunny suburbs—all while Never loves a neighborhood girl from afar—you get a video that’s equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious.
‘LUUV’ by Broken Hearts Club (2019): Leaning into their feelings
When Richie Aquino and Bradly Baldwin first met, they bonded over music and their recent breakups.They called their new band Broken Hearts Club. Aquino and Baldwin’s tunes, affectionately dubbed “makeout music,” are filled with tales of romance and heartache. And with lyrics like “Heartbreak is in front of me/but I still wanna taste it,” “LUUV”—off of their aptly named 2019 album Make out Music—leans right into those emotions, setting them to electronic beats in a dream-pop world. They’ll have you feeling all the feels.
‘Surrogate Valentine’ by Goh Nakamura (2011): Sweet and dreamy pop
Japanese American musician Goh Nakamura has contributed guitar and vocals to several movies by the director Ridley Scott, including A Good Year, American Gangster and Body of Lies. He also composed the score for Be Water, a documentary on Bruce Lee. Nakamura’s influences include Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith, and Elvis Costello.
“Surrogate Valentine,” off the soundtrack for the 2011 film of the same name, sounds like a song about someone who breaks off a relationship or avoids starting one. With lyrics like “I’m going away so you can be/There’s nothing you can do about it/going away so you can breathe/brings me to my knees,” you know it’s because they think it’s best for the other person. I’ve read enough romance novels to know I’d like to be given a choice in the matter, rather than have the decision made for me. Despite its somewhat self-sacrificing theme, it’s a sweet song, with Nakamura’s emotional voice paired with simple acoustic guitar. You’ll be humming this dreamy pop song.
Published on October 17, 2022
Words by Samantha Pak
Samantha Pak (she/her) is an award-winning Cambodian American journalist from the Seattle area and assistant editor for JoySauce. She spends more time than she’ll admit shopping for books than actually reading them, and has made it her mission to show others how amazing Southeast Asian people are. Follow her on Twitter at @iam_sammi and on Instagram at @sammi.pak.