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Track Review

Sometimes we can all act a little crazy. That's definitely the case with Ava Max.

After releasing four singles over the past two years, 25-year-old Ava Max has experienced the ebb and flow that comes with an emerging career. But her single “Sweet but Psycho” has recently topped a number of international charts, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the United States. Harkening back to the sounds of the 2000s, Max's style recalls early era Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, combined with modern dance club music.

In “Sweet but Psycho,” Max masquerades as a femme fatale who parades through life wrapped in a superficial sweetness that conceals a darker, more sinister intent.

A Tale of Two Relationships

"Sweet but Pyscho" isn't exactly a subtle song, with its chorus echoing the title's description of the woman in this twisted story: “Oh, she’s sweet but a psycho/… At night she’s screamin’/I’m-ma-ma-ma out of my mind."

Max sings from a third-person point of view about a guy who's apparently still deciding whether she's worth the trouble and pain. So why would any guy want to stick around for someone who might act like this? Glad you asked. Because: “She's so hot.” He also adds, "She’ll make you curse, but she a blessing." Why is she a blessing? There's that line again: “Oh, she’s so hot.” So even though he suspects she might be crazy, this guy is willing to take his chances with her simply based off a few cursory glances.

Offering the pretense of a seemingly innocent dinner date, the woman lures the guy into her lair: “You’ll play along, let her lead you on/You’ll be saying, ‘No, no’/Then saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ cause she messin’ with your head." Like a black widow feasting on its prey’s curiosity, she entices her victim with sensual temptations, eventually leading to a horrific fate.

Swirling around the relationship are some cautionary voices. “Run, don’t walk away," one such voice tells this guy. "Don't drink her potions," another says. Still another: "She's poison but crazy." But it’s obvious he doesn't give much credence to these warnings.

Upon drinking her poisonous potion, this guy no longer notices any of these glaring red flags. In fact, he’s even more entangled in her manipulative, emotional entrapment: "When she’s mean, you know you love it/ … Don’t pretend you don’t love the pain.”

At the song’s conclusion, the guy has fallen so far down the rabbit hole that he's unable to escape from this woman's spell. Her malevolent success is finally exposed in the shared admission that: “You’re just like me, you’re out of your mind/I know it’s strange, we’re both the crazy kind.”

Too Much of a Bad Thing Leaning into the atmosphere of teen thrillers such as Scream Queens and Riverdale, the song's video treads into campy territory.

Ava Max plays the crazed woman at the heart of this story. We see her slinking about in sports bra and low-cut, revealing dresses throughout. Early on, she spies a guy who's apparently her boyfriend kissing another woman. Max angrily tears up (presumably) his clothes and bides her time before luring him back into their apartment for a fancy dinner. While enjoying the meal, Max pours her guy an alarmingly green beverage, which he happily guzzles down. As the song crescendos, so do Max’s actions: namely, a sudden stabbing of the dinner turkey and the collapse of her now unconscious dinner date.

Dazed, he wakes up tied to a chair with only a few articles of clothing remaining. (We repeatedly see him shirtless, with mad Max running a finger suggestively down his torso while he's knocked out.) The camera then alternates between showing him tied to a chair and his unconscious frame sprawled on Max’s bed. Successive shots show his attempted escape as he desperately seeks refuge in a nearby closet, only to have an unexpected meeting with a male corpse (who likes disturbingly like him) that falls out from behind some clothes.

In the end, Max—who's wearing a wedding dress—apparently tosses a match down on her unconscious, soon-to-be-dead partner, after dousing him with gasoline, of course.

The Ava Max Experience

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Max described the song's video by saying, “I want theatrics. I want to give people a show and an experience. And every music video is gonna be an experience for you guys, and I definitely want you to see the real message behind it.”

This is definitely a theatrical video. Certainly an experience. If there's a message here, it's a cautionary tale in the form of a mental-health horror story. But Ava Max's breakthrough hit—especially its video—is short on sweetness and long on psychosis.

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Peaked at No. 10.

Record Label

Atlantic Records




August 17, 2018

On Video

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Jackson Greer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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