Elle King’s cackle cracks loudly over a Thursday afternoon Zoom chat while discussing her now-released video for her new single “Drunk.”
She describes shooting the video for her pop-rocking, ’80s homage, superstar country collaboration with Miranda Lambert as “the only real work thing that I’ve done in over a year!” However, that’s not to say that before quarantine that she wasn’t busy.
“Drunk” was recorded in December 2019, two months after she met her current fiancé, Dan Tooker, after spending time on Lambert’s “Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars” tour. “Do I even remember what times were like before quarantine? I don’t even know what year it is right now,” King jokes.
“Because of the pandemic and everything, I was filled with anxiety,” King relates with a more serious tone. However, excited to have the video released, King feels relaxed, focused, and renewed for 2021. “I made a New Year’s Resolution to enjoy everything and be present in what I’m doing.”
In the interview below, King talks “Drunk,” its video, and yes, wearing someone else’s wedding dress…
CMT: Foremost, how has quarantine treated you? How have you adjusted to the change in schedule?
Elle King: Music has been my number-one priority — sometimes working hard takes precedence over my happiness with writing music for a living or my health — for a long time. So, quarantine has allowed me to take a break and get back to creating without pressure. Initially, I wanted to do a bunch of co-writing sessions, but then I decided to get what I call a “weird glimpse at normalcy” by just taking time to figure out what it’s like to live at home. Then, when I felt inspired, I would write three songs in a day. I would usually post one of them because sometimes, I’ll lose one when I’m leaving a hotel room — I call those my “lost hotel room songs” — sometimes. So, I realized that — whether these were going to be radio songs or not — that these songs were an artistic representation of my soul and spirit that needed to exist in the world.
CMT: “Drunk” is the first time you’ve worked on something with Miranda Lambert since the Country Music Association Award for Musical Event of the Year that was the collaboration with you, Caylee Hammack, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, and Tenille Townes for the cover of Elvis Bishop’s 1975 hit “Fooled Around And Fell In Love.” How have you and Miranda connected since then, and how did the collaboration develop?
EK: Miranda’s one of the funniest and coolest people I’ve ever met. Every time I’m around her is such a good time. I’m blessed that we’ve met each other and become friends. We got very close when we toured together, and our friendship is more important than a [music career]-based “friendship.” I was nervous when I asked her to be a part of “Drunk.” I look up to her so much. Especially the way that she carries herself and the way that she commands an arena during a performance. I thought that she would like the song, which she did.
CMT: “Drunk” is a memorable, feel-good anthem of a song. It sounds like a moment we’ve all lived. Was that intentional?
EK: I started writing this song [seven years ago] when I was 24. Sometimes songs stay [metaphorically] pulled back in the slingshot for a long time until life happens. This song couldn’t come out when people were inside of their homes. The world needed to start waking up and opening up a bit again before I released a song that is basically saying, “Let’s party!” When people watch this video or listen to this song, I want them to feel like it’s a celebration. At the end of the day, that’s what music is supposed to be.
CMT: And of course, this video. Wow. It’s something else! How did it all come together?
EK: My face hurts from smiling when I’m thinking about it. The video is just a bunch of cool-ass funny people — including my fiancé Daniel, who plays my groom — hanging out in Nashville. My number-one care was making sure that Miranda wanted to do it for real and not as a favor to her friend. So we’re playing characters. My fiancé got a mullet haircut — that he’s still rockin’ and proud of — for the video, Miranda went all-in and went for it, as I did, with teased hair and god-awful outfits. The video shows how much fun something can look when you really enjoy doing it. This video sets the bar for what my work environment should always feel like.
CMT: Ok. So you wear both a tuxedo and a wedding gown in the clip. Which one was more fun to wear?
EK: The tuxedo was tight and uncomfortable. However, the wedding gown was amazing. I felt very beautiful in it. But you know what’s crazy? That was actually someone else’s wedding dress!
CMT: Wow. And, I have to ask. Do they know that their wedding dress is in this video?!?!
EK: God, I hope not! I think it might hurt their feelings. When I looked at it hanging on the hanger, I was impressed. Then I put it on, and everyone agreed that it looked weirdly amazing on me. I can totally understand how someone will love themselves in that gown.
CMT: So, overall, what’s the most powerful takeaway that you want your fans, and everyone to get from this song and the video?
EK: This song is like an update on [Semisonic’s 1998 pop/rock hit] “Closing Time.” If you think about it, saying “I’m drunk, and I don’t wanna go home” sums up exactly what it’s going to be like when bars are fully open, and it’s last call. Everyone’s gonna be saying, “I was cooped up for two years in my freakin’ house, I’m drunk, and I don’t wanna go home!”