Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Sacrilege” video


As a huge fan of Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I loved this for both the music and the video. This song “Sacrilege” comes off their latest album “Mosquito”, which was released last year.

The beginning start off with a group of people walking away from a fire. You see a sheriff’s car flashing on the left until it jumps backwards. The filming style of this video is similar to alt-J’s “breezeblocks” video. You start off with an assumption: both videos end with someone dead and your mind looks for someone to blame. As the “Sacrilege” continues, you see British model Lily Cole shivering and tied to a post. Fire is all around her and you see a person laying at her feet. At this point you don’t know who it is.

The lyrics say;

Fallen for a guy, fell down from the sky
Halo round his head
Feathers in a bed
In our bed, in our bed”

The colors in this are beautiful and bold like their video for “Heads will Roll”. As the video moves backwards it begins to get lighter and lighter. Not just because the time of the day but because the end of the video is the darkest moment. The moment when they burn this girl alive. You can see each person’s reaction to the events and their emotions towards her. Some are smiling and others look saddened. They all dance around her and taunt her like she’s a witch.

The scenes progress and you see that masked man running down the street where he gets shot. The sheriff shoots him and it’s apparent that they were just taunting him when they let him try to escape. After you see his death you see Lily Cole slowly getting caught. She’s barely dressed and running away from the group of 15 or so people. While at the same time the sheriff is forcing a mask on the guy who got shot.

As Lily Cole climbs out a window, you realize that she’s under-dressed because she was escaping from a building. Inside the building she was getting it on with a guy. Outside the sheriff watches them. The boy slowly gets dressed back up as the video rewinds and you see that he’s wearing a black suit. Then the sheriff breaks in a puts the mask on the poor guy.

Interestingly enough, Lily Cole is kissing the guy on the bed, then then it jumps to her kissing the sheriff. The next 30 seconds explain everyone’s emotions at the fire. You see that the girl was sleeping with all the guys (and girls) in the town. It’s clearly affected the entire town and everyone is in an uproar. The mechanic, the sheriff, the wife of the sheriff, the younger looking guy.

After all the sex scenes you see Lily Cole in a wedding dress where she’s getting married. The guy that she kisses at the alter isn’t the same guy she was originally kissing with the mask. In fact, you see that it was the pastor/minister. As the wedding plays backwards you can see everyone’s smiling faces. Nobody has has a fit of lust with her yet. The size of the town becomes incredibly known in this scene because only a third of the small church is seated.

When Lily is burned, everything is darkened. By this time, the whole scene is almost pure white and a gospel choir is singing in the background. The words that they’re saying are:

“It’s sacrilege, sacrilege, sacrilege, you say
It’s sacrilege, sacrilege, sacrilege, you say”

According to, sacrilege is defined as:

the violation or profanation of anything sacred or held sacred“.

The turning point in the video was Lily Cole’s interaction with the minister. When she’s in bed with him, she’s breaking something “held sacred”. It’s as though it was the final straw. Everyone else was taken by their lust but the whole town banded together once the holy man was tainted.

While the interpretations of this video vary, I think the song alludes to a relationship where a woman wants to be with someone but is afraid she’ll taint him:

“Asked if I would try
To leave this all behind”

This refers to everything she’s done. To see if she’s willing to put her old life behind her.

Halo round his head
Feathers in a bed
In our bed, in our bed

He’s perfect with that halo around his head.

Then the song bursts into seemly endless chants of:

It’s sacrilege, sacrilege, sacrilege, you say

Meaning that their relationship is breaking his halo. He’s losing his perfection by being with her.

The only other words that remain are:

And I plead and I pray

She’s pleading because she want to be with him. The idea of prayer probably refers to her trying to become clean. To “leave it all behind”.

Overall I see the song as a relationship where the singer feels they are too imperfect, or perhaps society sees them as imperfect for each other. All the singer wants is to be with him. I think that the video somewhat follows this theme. In this case Lily Cole is the taint and it’s not clear who she wants to be with. She’s with older men and the pastor. Both the song and the video are great. I highly encourage you to listen through the entire album if you get a chance. Karen O has an amazing voice and it never disappoints!

Thank you all for your patience with me today as I learn how to blog with a new host! It’s definitely a learning experience!


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