Stepping out from the shadow of “Glee,” Kevin McHale makes an impressive stride as a solo pop artist with a new single and video, “Help Me Now.”
The 30-year-old actor and singer shot to fame a decade ago as the lovable Artie Abrams on “Glee,” and remained a principal cast member throughout the duration of the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning musical series’ six-season run. In the video for “Help Me Now,” released last week, he offers fans a more honest ― but ultimately celebratory ― side of his personality.
“During the ‘Glee’ days, when I [was] doing music outside of it, I was always putting on a persona, or I felt like I had to,” he told Paper, noting that he’d shelved three albums worth of material in the interim. “People had me recording early Justin Bieber-sounding stuff, and I was like ‘This doesn’t feel like me at all.’ It’s only now, the first time living as an adult without a crazy 17-hour-per-day work schedule, that I’ve had the time to think about something else, and that’s how this music came about.”
Directed by Justin Thorne, the “Help Me Now” video follows “Modern Family” actor Nolan Gould as he puts on a virtual reality headset. In his digital haze, he’s introduced to McHale, who spins, sashays and struts about the corridors and staircases of an opulent mansion. The clip concludes as Gould realizes the message was actually intended for Austin McKenzie, who is McHale’s real-life boyfriend, in a plea for forgiveness.
McHale, who described the video on Twitter as having “a bootleg kinda gay Wes Anderson vibe,” said the disconnect between the song’s vulnerable lyrics and upbeat, ’80s synth-pop vibe was intentional.
“We wanted something that was not taking itself seriously,” he told PopSugar. “I’m not supposed to be dancing necessarily that well. It’s more like desperation. We want it to be funny and sort of me just trying a little too hard because that’s what … the lyrics reflect.”
“Help Me Now” is the first taste of McHale’s forthcoming EP, “Boy,” due out May 24. Looking at “Boy” as a whole, the star told the outlet, his new music is about “bluntly talking about my faults as a human being” in an “upbeat, positive” way.
And McHale, who addressed his sexuality publicly for the first time last year when he declared in a tweet that Ariana Grande’s single, “No Tears Left to Cry,” was “gayer than me,” doesn’t shy away from expressing his authentic self on “Boy.”
At a time when many LGBTQ artists continue to opt for gender-neutral references in their music, McHale said making it clear to fans that his songs were inspired by his experiences with men was a no-brainer.
“There’s no point in doing this if I’m not going to write how I talk,” he said in an interview with Out magazine published in March. “I do it because I want to be me and have it be an extension of me and my experience. … I’m singing about guys so I’m going to talk about guys. I allowed myself to write and sing freely and these songs came out.”