In a lot of ways, music videos are like mini movies. They can entertain you and make you laugh or hit you deep and make you think, the latter of which is usually achieved by the artists who tell a real story over the go-to live performance. Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” certainly achieves the latter.
I had heard Hozier’s hit track several times on various platforms, whether it be the radio or a live performance on some television broadcast. Neither of these is surprising for a song that peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart sandwiched between Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” What was surprising, however, was how the man behind the music, 24-year-old Irishman Andrew Hozier-Byrne, decided to portray the track in video form.
“Take Me to Church” first appeared on Hozier’s debut EP of the same name in 2013, but with the song’s recent rise to fame, I (and probably many others) hadn’t been pushed to discover the year-old video until now. The lyrics of the Grammy-nominated tune are a tad more deep than the usual heavyweights of Top 40 radio, which surely lends to the equally as heavy storyline portrayed through excellent editing and cinematography.
Being in all black and white allows for the viewer to truly soak in the elements of the plot. Despite Hozier referencing an interest in a girl (“My lover’s got humor / She’s the giggle at a funeral”), the video shows how corrupt the world can be in regards to the same-sex relationship between two men.
The story begins with one of the men riding a bike while the other buries a box, which is about as descriptive as you can get in a music video using actors and offering no names. The bike rider meets with the box burier at the burial site. They soon venture off together to make out and are spotted from afar by a man in a black coat with its hood up, making only his face visible.
The story flashes back and forth between the box being buried again and the bike rider quickly packing to run to the box burier’s home. When he arrives, he finds a scene of destruction where the man in the black coat—now with a bandana concealing his face—and others like him had tossed aside material items and a family member in pursuit of the box burier before snatching him from the burial site.
Happy moments between the couple are peppered in between the intense segments to show the viewer how much they mean to each other in this story. This helps support the bike rider’s further search for the box burier who is shown elsewhere being dragged towards a large fire. The chained box is now in the possession of the mystery men who hold it in front of the box burier as to taunt him before trying to smash it open. When their attempts are unsuccessful, they toss it in the fire. They then surround the box burier and begin kicking him from all angles as the bike rider watches on from afar.
While everyone may have their own interpretation, mine is that this video is largely a metaphorical depiction of our world’s view on homosexuality. The two men harbor a secret of attraction, physically shown in the form of a box chained shut and buried underground so that no one can crack it. People find out, represented by the anonymity of the mystery men in black coats and bandana-covered faces, and they lash out.
They take the secret—the box—and taunt one of the men with it. They try to open it to see it, or understand it, and when they can’t, they destroy it, which hurts him emotionally. However, they don’t stop there, adding to the pain with kicks, which are physical metaphors for the pain they cause. The men’s relationship with each other is different and unlike anything they’ve experienced, so they toss it aside and torture the ones who harbor it, whether it be the men themselves or the ones who protect them like the family member who was pushed aside.