Jaymes Young’s official video for “Happiest Year” begins with the 28-year-old artist wrapped around a young woman. Their eyes on locked on each other and nothing else, and it appears to be pleasant moment in time between a madly-in-love couple until Young opens his mouth for the first verse.
The piano kicks in, and the truth pours out.
“I’m really on the ropes this time,” he sings with the camera set on him sitting on the alone, reminiscing on a time when she was there with him. “I’ve been fighting all my life for you / I never should’ve said goodbye / But maybe that’s what stupid people do.”
Viewers are given a glimpse into the past. Young and his ex-lover and laughing, playing an affectionate game of tag around their home. He thanks her for “the happiest year of my life” in the chorus as footage rolls of them gazing out over Los Angeles, her head on his shoulder.
The future clearly didn’t pan out the way they were presumably envisioning that day on the hillside. Young details that she gave him peace, but he wasted it. She was his medicine, and he couldn’t quit her. He’s “sorry for the ways that I used you,” but “you know, you hurt me pretty good too.”
Young’s pain is palpable in his voice as he delivers vividly emotive lyrics. The visuals reflect that with him singing to an old Polaroid of him and her together, smiling, until he breaks down crying.
The video ends with Young back on the hillside. He appears to have revisited their spot alone, but he’s not totally alone: he reveals an urn and dumps out the ashes.
Young provided a lengthy, vulnerable description of “Happiest Year” to tmrw. We feel it right to include his feelings in full:
“In the spirit of honesty, I have to admit that ‘Happiest Year’ has always been a deceiving title. That might seem obvious upon listening to the song, but I haven’t been very open about why it’s deceiving.
“The writing and recording began amidst one of the darkest places of my life, in 2018. I was completely in hell. I was lost in deep loneliness, depression, and a sense of regret that I had never experienced before. Time was standing still, and the world was moving by without me—day after day. It was such a disorientating labyrinth of emotions for me, and I was completely turned inside out over the pain I was dealing with. I wasn’t eating, sleeping, or taking care of myself. I was exhausted in every way, and mentally so foggy. I isolated myself from everyone for months. It probably wasn’t more than 10 days after I started writing and recording the song that I drove myself to the hospital seeking professional help.
“‘Happiest Year’ is really about the first year of a relationship before things went sour. I had family and close long-time friends visit me during that first year, who later expressed concerns over my state of bliss. I don’t think I really wanted to see it because I was too happy in the moment to consider the possibility that I was perhaps embracing a fairytale with an uncertain ending.
“So, it’s actually a pretty backhanded thing for me to say ‘thank you’ like I do in the chorus of the song because really I’m saying, At least you gave me that first year (laughs). There’s both spite and gratitude in that phrase.
“Now, in the last year, I’ve realized the song has meant something much less petty for those who’ve been listening. I feel humbled by (that), and I started to embrace that idea even on tour last year. When I was singing it, it started to mean something different—something less burdensome, and something less attached to that dark period in 2018 when nothing in my life seemed to be OK.
“In the end, I guess it’s a little strange for me to be releasing a music video for ‘Happiest Year,’ but I’m glad for it. I’m so pleased to have created a story with the director, my friend Erik Rojas. This is my favorite video I’ve made so far, and I hope the message (albeit dark at face value) is received as a lesson in appreciation for what is given to us—no matter what the circumstance. Lessons about life, and happy times in general, are not always packaged neatly in a box that you get to conveniently open and close when you want.
“This description is so much closer to what I originally tried to urge the song was about, and I have to thank my community of fans for reminding me of the bigger picture.
“I was practically writhing in pain when this song was written, so it’s quite liberating to see some good coming out of it. Somehow, it’s come full circle in this music video, which I’m now happy to share with everyone. Thanks for all your continued support, and I hope the song and video can be a form of expression that helps people release some negative energy during the world’s current state of anxiety.”
“Happiest Year” has resonated deeply and widely with more than 30 million streams worldwide. The song has served as something of a welcoming hug for Young. He had taken time away from the music industry following his breakthrough debut album Feel Something arrived in 2017.
This video, released during a time where isolation has become the new norm to protect people from the coronavirus pandemic, allows people to feel as close to Young as ever.
Listen to the “Happiest Year” Sam Feldt remix below.