In 1956, a fantasy/drama movie called The Red Balloon (or Le Ballon Rouge) was released; written, produced and directed by Albert Lamorisse. In this movie, a young boy is shown to befriend a red balloon. They interact playfully with each other, as the balloon has a life of its own, and they forge a sweet friendship. Their friendship continues despite the boy being punished and removed from the balloon several times. Though there is little dialogue, it is clear from what occurs in the movie that life for this boy is fairly bleak and limited. This bright red and animated balloon is a piece of joy and aliveness in his world.
I share this background, because this movie, the boy, and his balloon have been inspiration toward this song and music video that we are proudly premiering today, courtesy of Swedish cross-genre solo artist Ruben Hultman. “Balloons” is the second track from his upcoming EP Happy Face (releasing 7th July).
At first listen, “Balloons” may just seem like a really catchy pop punk track. But, as is typical with Ruben Hultman’s music, he uses his songs as means of expressing emotion, lyrically and sonically, and that is present in “Balloons”.
Whatever happened to your favourite toys?
Where did they go?
Why have they abandoned you?”
Ruben lyrically refers to a little boy and his favourite toys, and the upbeat vibe feels like it is looking back to a time of innocence. With this first verse, I can’t help thinking of the boy in the movie; confidently marching through the streets with his friend balloon trailing behind him, ignoring the stares or quizzical looks. In childhood, we have a clarity and simplicity in knowing what we want and what we love and going for it without complication.
I feel that balloons are a metaphor for a simpler time, and that “Balloons” is grieving the loss of that time. Calling out for these simple joys that are lost, and seeking the feeling of being at peace and at home by being immersed in them, as a child might. Picture childhood days of playing with siblings, water pistols in the sunshine, watching clouds drift by up above, and having no elements of insecurity or pressure to be anything else but right there.
“The crashing drums
And the water shooting guns
Yet still I do believe
That I can walk up on the clouds
It’s true that I can’t swim
But in the sky you cannot drown”
“Balloons” choruses and the ‘ballooOoooooOOooons’ lyric sung sweetly in moments of spaciousness give the track a feeling of fantasy, calling into those ‘childish’ joys, even if just for just a moment. The layered vocals of the choruses also give a feel of lightness, and you can picture balloons floating above you in a blue sky as you hear it. The feeling inspires a sense that the simplicity may still be able to exist, if we let ourselves dream enough to be lifted into a mindset of something more magical existing, beyond the mundane and serious adult world.
Put simply: These balloons (dreams and inspirations that we might have lost) carry us home (back to ourselves and who we truly are). ❤️
The music video for “Balloons” was filmed by Elias Gruvberger and directed by Ruben himself. It shows a scene where Ruben is surrounded by black and white balloons. In this relatively small room, the vibe is tense, and he feels to be calling to his younger self, like “What happened? What had you lose your innocence and joy?”.
Ruben ‘battles’ with these black and white balloons in this confined space, before being shown wrestling with their perceived heaviness in a bunch outside. He drags them along, by force and will, losing his footing at times with this fight. These heavy balloons may be representative of all of these adult responsibilities, these have-tos, fears, expectations, and societal pressures.
As the video continues, we see Ruben reach a shed, that he forces the bunch of balloons into and closes the door upon them. It’s relief you can feel, with the battle won. And then what do we see? A single bright red balloon in the apparently empty room: clarity, innocence, dreams, and independence all at once has returned and we are home. ❤️
I loved “Balloons” from when I first heard it, as a rockin’ track that Ruben puts his all into, and even more with understanding the balloon metaphor more deeply. Check out “Balloons” and its video below, and stay tuned for the upcoming release of Ruben’s Happy Face EP.
Mixed/Mastered by Max Hurrell
Drums performed by Zack Liljeberg