Mere days into quarantine, in separate corners of Durham, Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath and I both began our journeys on the much-anticipated Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
At the threshold of the unknown, I took comfort in simple comradery with my island neighbors and the soothing consistency of daily tasks: Water the flowers, collect fruits from trees, watch the resident land octopus Naruto-run through the town square. Over the next few months, I dedicated hours to decorating my island, perfecting this little virtual world beyond the despondency of our real one.
When Sylvan Esso announced its new album, Free Love, with the release of the “Ferris Wheel” music video, it was also a kind of break from reality. Life as I knew it looked different, but the promise of a new album from an old favorite grounded me in some semblance of normalcy. But I never would have guessed those two respites would come together like they did today, when Sylvan Esso released a new version of “Ferris Wheel” recreated entirely in Animal Crossing.
In the video, offerings from Nook’s Cranny, like lava lamps and arcade games, pulse across the band’s ethereal dream space. Meath’s avatar dances on the familiar island landscape, waving sparklers, as fireworks—a recent addition to the game—explode in the sky. The tinsel-fringed dress Meath wears in the original has been recreated as a custom clothing item. It's downloadable in-game, of course, along with other Free Love merch, like the T-shirt and hat Nick Sanborn’s character sports near the end.
A fun, lighthearted, and just a little bit kitschy collision of two seemingly different worlds, the Animal Crossing rendition of “Ferris Wheel” is a tribute to a very specific moment in time, one made possible by cancelled plans, forced isolation, and the love of a fictional world where anything is possible—even music videos.
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