The Middle


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Kristin Smith

Album Review

Big names lend themselves to big tracks. So when Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey teamed up, it’s a combination that—no surprise—quickly propelled them toward the top of the charts.

But if you’re not familiar with those names, allow me to introduce you. Zedd, also known as Anton Zaslavski, is a Russian-born DJ, producer and songwriter who has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Alessia Cara, Kesha and Liam Payne. Meanwhile, Grey is an electronic music duo comprised of brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha. Finally, Maren Morris is a Texas country singer who rose to fame with singles such as “My Church” and “I Could Use a Love Song.”

Now, those four musicians have joined forces for the pop/EDM single “The Middle.”

Dead Center

For a song that seems to be about an intense lovers’ quarrel, this track couldn’t sound much lighter. In fact, it’s easy not to pay much attention to anything but the chorus when you hear it blaring through headphones or car speakers: “Oh baby, why don’t you just meet me in the middle?”

In the song’s video, Maren Morris is clad in a bright red body suit, revealing a black bralette and cleavage, as she takes an elevator to the top floor of an urban high rise. Beckoning the viewer (and listener), she lyrically rehashes former events between two lovers who can’t seem to decide how they’ve arrived at their particular situation. And it’s unclear whether they’ll make amends or just call it quits. “Take a seat/Right over there, sat on the stairs/Stay or leave,” Morris instructs.

But then she grows more reflective and tender: “The cabinets are bare and I’m unaware/Of just how we got into this mess/Got so aggressive/I know we meant all good intentions.”

The video itself doesn’t actually show that quarrel. Instead, Morris simply sings and dances with myriad backup dancers (some whom look quite young, while others are adults wearing revealing outfits and crop tops), while Zedd offers keyboard and synthesized voice accompaniment. They perform on set filled with colorful cubes that obviously emulate a vibrant cityscape. Fireworks also explode, and colors change with the beat.

All the while, Morris continues to sing suggestively, “So pull me closer/Why don’t you pull me close/Why don’t you come on over/I can’t just let you go.” She wonders if it’s possible to “just meet me in the middle,” otherwise, she might just lose her “mind just a little.” It’s pretty clear how she hopes this tiff will resolve itself.

On Target?

At the end of the video, the singers and dancers in the video form a red and white target. Hmm, I thought. Now where have I seen that before. Oh yeah: Target. The store.

Turns out the entire video is really just a long advertisement for that retailer—one that debuted as an ad during this year’s Grammy awards.

It’s not hard to understand why Target might partner with rising stars such as Zedd, Marin Morris and Grey. Especially when it comes to an earworm like this one that’s slightly suggestive but relatively tame by 2018 standards.

And as for these musicians? Well, these days, there’s no such things as selling out, really. There’s only selling. So if shilling for Target is what it takes, Zedd and Co. are obviously willing to make that concession.

Kristen Smith
Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, loving raising their little guy, Judah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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