In 2015, Paul McDonald embarked on a journey personal and artistic growth after the dissolution his marriage and former band. By relocating to his current home Nashville, the American Idol alum found solace in the city's songwriting community, which resulted in countless writing and recording sessions between Music City and Echo Mountain in Asheville, N.C.
All that has culminated in Modern Hearts, McDonald's first album as a solo artist that was released on June 1. Today (June 7), he's premiering the video for his single “Hold On” exclusively on Billboard.
“Hold On” takes viewers down a psychedelic rabbit hole as McDonald dances and dines with mannequins. The song itself came from the artist's personal experience and served as a reminder to a friend (and himself) to let life take its course. “It was a little like a therapy session for both me and the girl, but at the same time it's a little tongue-in-cheek and over-exaggerated,” McDonald told Billboard.
Considering that Modern Hearts has “a lot layers and depth to it,” the singer sought to juxtapose the album with lighthearted visuals. “I wanted the video to kind take away from the actual message the song and put the listener into a different headspace,” he shared.
Directed by McDonald's longtime friend Jason Lee Denton, the vibrant colorways “Hold On” bring to mind the trippy, psychological elements Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film A Clockwork Orange (minus the gore). For the video's concept, the 33-year-old singer had already discussed an appreciation for psychedelic rock with Denton, when the director found inspiration in a skit from The Mighty Boosh in which coconuts come to life. He suggested to McDonald the possibility animating mannequins and the concept developed from there.
The pair — who also teamed up for McDonald's equally retro “Wildcard” video — ran with the idea and cited The Rolling Stones and David Bowie as further stylistic influences. Donning a floral suit from his own closet, McDonald descends into madness throughout the clip; as the song becomes more enlivened, so do the mannequins and by the end, they nearly swallow him whole.
“Hold On” is the third visual to emerge from Modern Hearts. Beginning in July, McDonald will take the album out on the road for a tour with Los Angeles artist RIVVRS. Fans can also look forward to the emergence more music from McDonald's recent recording sessions. “I'm hoping to get back into the studio and finish up album two sooner than later,” he said. “I'm always working and writing so I'm just excited to have music out under my name as a solo artist that I’m really proud .”