Best of 2019: FKA Twigs’s “Cellophane” Did It for Lillie West (Lala Lala)

The Chicago-based artist talks her favorite song (and music video) of the year.

It was really hard, but I picked “Cellophane” by FKA Twigs, the song and the video. I can’t remember how I first heard it. I think it was just the whisperings — “She’s back!” It was the first song she released from the new album, and I watched the video with the song.

I just thought it was so incredibly enchanting and engaging in every way. The beginning of the video is so dramatic — I thought maybe it was a reference to The Fifth Element where the alien is singing, and then the alien dies. I don’t know if it actually references that at all, but… 

Also, the production of the song. It feels so simple and so quiet with the synths and her voice, and the sound of her shoe moving on the glass. Also, she’s obviously an amazing dancer. I was totally enchanted with what she was doing right off the bat.

“Didn’t I do it for you?” is the most heartbreaking, relatable lyric of all time. When you are rejected by someone in any way, shape, or form — this is specifically romantic, but any way, there’s still this part of your brain that’s like, Why didn’t I do it for you? Why wasn’t I good enough? She says it in all different ways: “Didn’t I do it for you?”; “Why don’t I do it for you?”; and then, “Everything I do is for you.” It’s just so devastating. It touches a nerve for, I think, every person. It’s so real.  

Something that I have been thinking about is, there’s this Tim Kinsella piece I really like that he wrote. It’s specifically about Chicago, but it’s about hybridity. I think that, with this song, she’s walking the line as she often does between vulnerability and strength and sexuality. She talks about that — she’s all about being all these things at once. I actually thought about that piece and her stuff, because that’s what I’ve always loved about Chicago — it’s all these different things coming together. She’s the master of walking the line between worlds and feelings and genres and spaces. She’s never one thing. 

This album I’ve really dove in and been like, This is a true visionary. I think this is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, and videos I’ve ever seen. 

As told to Annie Fell. 

Lillie West is an artist, musician, and producer from London, currently living in Chicago. She values collaboration, fervor, and community.