Popscreen: System of a Down

System of a Down

“Lonely Day”

Dir. Josh Melnick and Xander Charity

Pity poor Serj Tankian. Not only is it “the most loneliest day in [his] life,” shit keeps catching fire around him. No wonder he thinks “such a lonely day should be banned.” At least he has the other members of System of a Down on the bus with him to keep him company.

In the video for “Lonely Day,” the band members lounge mournfully around their tour bus, fiddling with a cunningly-product-placed iPod, playing chess, and gazing out the windows. They don’t seem terribly lonely, but they do seem rather bored. Why they thought people would be entertained by watching the band travel by luxury bus is hard to say.

As if to compensate for the dullness of the band’s scenes, they alternate with shots of the antithesis of boring: stuff burning. A billboard, some trash, a car, and a bus stop are among the things that are incongruously and computer-generatedly on fire throughout an anonymous city as passers-by go about their day-to-day lives without paying attention to the flames. The band members gaze soulfully upon some of the blazes.

I don’t know whether fire is a heretofore unknown symbol for loneliness or whether System of a Down just likes to burn things, but either way, no amount of cutting between the band on the bus and the fires can convince me that the two are in any way connected thematically. If the bus were to light on fire, it would make a better link—and a far more entertaining video.

As it is, however, the “Lonely Day” video is recommended only if you’re really easily mesmerized by fire—or by tour buses, I suppose. To crib from the song lyrics once again, “such a ‘Lonely Day’ should not exist.”

—Elisabeth J. Bloomberg