Pretty? Or Pretty Sad?

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The video for Clairo’s breakout hit, “Pretty Girl,” has 42.5 million views on YouTube, despite being shot with a budget of literally zero, and the majority of the top comments are from guys confessing that they secretly listen to the song when their friends aren’t around.

On one level, it’s anything but surprising that guys would be into watching a video of, well, a pretty girl staring into a webcam and crooning lyrics like, “I could be your pretty girl.” The video’s like a 3-minute Skype call from their imaginary girlfriend at art school upstate, if she was real, which she’s not.  

The song’s status as the go-to guilty pleasure of a certain male demographic probably has more to do with its vibe, which is aggressively hushed and sad, like a post-chillwave Belle and Sebastian. It’s not something you’d blast in your car, or even from your laptop speakers, lest your roommate or parents ask, only half-joking, if everything’s OK, and if you need to talk.

Clairo’s ability to reflect contemporary melancholy (do you know anyone who’s not irritable or depressed?) is so on-the-nose that it almost seems too good to be true, which is why a lot of people were angry to learn that her father’s a top marketing executive with music industry connections and, the implication goes, helped shape/focus group her sound.

That controversy’s largely faded by now, though as Clairo tours in support for her full-length debut album, it’ll be interesting to see who comes to her live shows. Will it be fans of her music, or dudes who fell in love with her via YouTube? (And is there a meaningful difference?)

Clairo, 7-10 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12, 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $25.

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