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We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020

Beauty Pill's 'Instant Night' Sets A Dreadful Moment In Motion


A screenshot from Beauty Pill's video for "Instant Night."
Courtesy of the artist

A screenshot from Beauty Pill's video for "Instant Night."

Beauty Pill frontman Chad Clark wrote "Instant Night" in 2015 after seeing far-right media pundit Ann Coulter guest on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. "She was asked to predict who the Republican nominee would be," Clark wrote on Bandcamp's messaging app. "She picked Trump. At the time, it was patently ridiculous to most people. People laughed at her."

Clark didn't find it so funny. "I could feel she was right," he wrote. "Trump, though he was seemingly moronic and clownish, had tapped into a seething current of white rage and grievance and he would harness it to take him all the way."

In its finished form, "Instant Night" unpacks the fear associated with Donald Trump's then-pending U.S. presidency. Though he hosted Saturday Night Live and let Jimmy Fallon ruffle his trademark hair, Trump was still politically divisive. Given his views on women and people of color, some feared the country was headed for incredibly dark days. Through intricate lyrics and an orchestral score, "Instant Night" conveys the feeling of dread in the social media age. With lines like "the screen won't stop scrolling, and look at you patiently waiting for rescue," Beauty Pill outlines the slow-moving claustrophobia that would soon grip the nation. Indeed, there was a notion that Trump's presidency was a fad, and we'd get back to normal sooner than later. That wouldn't be the case. "If there's no 'scared' option," sings vocalist Erin Nelson, referring to Facebook's quick emoji reactions, "'Sad' is alright."

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The video for "Instant Night" is also a form of protest. In it, illustrator Ryan Nelson draws three portraits — of Trump, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell — layering each of their faces with those of different animals (Trump becomes a wild boar; Graham becomes a dog; and McConnell becomes a wolf). Both the video and song depict the left's current mood, and with the 2020 election just a few days away, it's a not-so-subtle reminder to vote like your life depends on it.

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