Sarah Burton navigates online dating in new video, ‘Smiling for the Camera’


April 17, 2019 By Jason Scott


You’ve got a broken heart. Each piece is as a glistening golden coin you pop into the slot machine of online dating. It’s a temporary act of sacrifice, giving you a moment to breathe, and meanwhile, you put on your happy face for what might be your next romantic entanglement. Folk-rock starlet Sarah Burton, whose aesthetic clicks and flicks between glitter-pop and earthy Americana, clinks her emotional currency together and watches as the discs bounce from her chest and down a chute of potential rediscovery in self-worth. “I’m stepping out of myself / From the bedroom to the bar,” she chews the lyrics and lets them fly alongside the rapidly swirling drum kit.


Her song “Smiling for the Camera” is appropriately jaunty, as her eyes wax hopeful underneath neon lighting and a smirk blossoms around her lips. The accompanying music video, premiering today, both illustrates the dire state of dating while allowing Burton to mine her mind for some kind of healing agent. The world spins around her in dazzling and utterly striking rainbow bursts, enticing an emotional charge as much as zapping her of all energy. Even when her facade slips, there is a sparkling, fizzy effervescence lacing her eyelids. Once out of Toronto, now a Terlingua, Texas transplant, the genre-melting firebrand positions such suffocating vulnerability for the first time, particularly in terms of sewing her heart back together.


With such TV shows as Black Mirror cutting right to the bone of our spiraling down, down, down into our screens, human interconnectivity is much more of a treasure than ever. “In a world dominated by social media, navigating your way through life can be exhausting. Online dating is one of those places where the internet world and the real world actually collide,” writes Burton to B-Sides & Badlands over email. “We share the best versions of ourselves online, in hopes of finding someone with whom, ultimately, we can share the most true version of ourselves -- wounds and all.”


“Smiling for the Camera,” which glitches as static in between channels, lingers on the duality in which we all engage, and in turns, reconfigures what it means to wield both in equal measure. “This song is at once an anthem about getting back on the horse and putting yourself out there after a heartbreak, as well as a commentary about our perceived reality versus our actual reality,” she says. “When I wrote this song I was an emotional wreck, but only my best friends really knew that -- to the rest of the world I was strong and happy.”


“Smiling for the Camera” is ripped from her new album, Give Me What I Want, out now.