Deadcrush

Album: Relaxer (2017)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is about two long-deceased historical women that members of Alt-J have crushes on: American mid-20th century photographer Elizabeth "Lee" Miller and Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife. The band told NPR's All Things Considered:

    "As we were finishing writing our second album, This Is All Yours, we came up with a quick jam which we luckily captured on one of our phones. This turned into 'Deadcrush', which is a word we made up to describe someone who is no longer alive that you fancy. Thus the first verse is about Lee Miller, Joe's deadcrush, the second about Anne Boleyn, Gus's."
  • Elizabeth "Lee" Miller was a successful fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, where she became an established fashion and fine art photographer. Miller is best known for her work as a correspondent for Vogue magazine during World War II, covering events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.
  • Alt-J's 2011 song "Taro" is about two other mid-20th century war photographers, Gerda Taro and Robert Capa. That track deals with Taro and Capa's deaths in their line of work.
  • Anne Boleyn (c. 1501 – May 19, 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII. Her charms caused the English king to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and declare his independence from Rome. Over the centuries, she has inspired, or been mentioned, in many artistic works including popular songs by Ursula Greville, Stanley Holloway and McFly.
  • When writing the song, the Alt-J threesome imagined what historical figure they would go on a date with. We know that Joe Newman chose Lee Miller and Gus Unger-Hamilton went for Anne Boleyn. However drummer Thom Green's choice of the poet Sylvia Plath didn't make it into the lyrics.
  • The video was directed by LA-based Young Replicant who Alt-J had previously worked with on the clip for "3WW", and was choreographed by Darcy Wallace. The visual features three woman dancing around an apocalyptic bunker, each representing aspects of the trio's historical crushes.

    "Darcy took the lyrics first and choreographed it after researching each character," Newman explained. "She looked at Lee Miller's photos and the Tudor style and famed beheading of Anne Boleyn. She did her research and she came up with this beautiful, collaged choreography that we then took to Alex who worked out a story to go around the dancing."

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