What do backup dancers do? Backup dancers make the frontperson look good. They spice things up, they inject energy, they may display incredible talents, but it’s all done in the service of the star. In the video above, Hamilton Leithauser is the star — he takes the stage with a group of gals behind him, someone offstage tosses him the microphone, and off he goes. Lookin’ good. The video goes even further than that, because the first half has Leithauser hanging out in the dressing room before the dancers have even had a chance to slip on their sparkly outfits. Lookin’ meta good!
Could some of this frontman fourth wall breaking have to do with Leithauser’s situation vis-a-vis The Walkmen? With striking out on his own? Is some existential fat being chewed here? Maybe. But there’s another level I just love, and that level is Rostam Batmanglij.
In his day job, Rostam writes, produces, sings backup and plays multiple instruments for Vampire Weekend, and by executing those duties as brilliantly as he does, he makes lead vocalist Ezra Koenig look good. Rostam’s smart songwriting and signature embellishments complement Koenig’s wit and musical strengths, making for a well-rounded and seamless experience. And that experience transcends the music — when I scroll through @arzE’s hilarious Twitter feed, which reads like a modern-day, short-entry guide to etiquette, it’s almost as if a harpsichord is running up and down scales in the background, both because of the tone/subject matter of the posts and because I’ve internalized the arpeggios Rostam often sets alongside Koenig’s voice. I never really thought about it until now, but it’s true.
So here is Rostam, yet again, making a frontman look his best. He co-wrote “Alexandra,” he produced it, he mixed it and he even plays bass in the video. I love this song, and I’m excited for Leithauser’s solo album — the ex-(ish)Walkman couldn’t have picked a better foot to put forward.