Vanessa Carlton Shares Drinks with Younger Selves in “Future Pain” Video

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Two weeks ago, Vanessa Carlton shared “Future Pain,” the lead single from her upcoming album, Love Is An Art, due in spring 2020. It’s an excellent song, and one that marries her earlier style with the sound of her 2010s records. Today, “Future Pain” gets a warm, retro music video, directed by Joshua Shoemaker.

“Future Pain” describes a couple meeting at a bar, succumbing to bad habits and an ill-fated romance. As Vanessa previously described to PAPER, “This song is about repeating a pattern we know has the same unhappy ending and finding comfort in a pattern that is self destructive.”

The music video brings these visuals and themes to life. Vanessa enters a tiny bar, sitting between to other versions of herself. On the right side of the bar, a young, circa-2002 Vanessa in a red camisole checks her flip phone while sipping a fruity drink. She looks hopeful and naive, but blissfully happy. In the middle, a business-attired Vanessa with an updo appears hardened and defeated, drinking hard liquor to numb her loneliness. Finally, at the far left, we have today’s Vanessa, wearing jeans, a white t-shirt, and a smile as she drinks a beer. She’s not naive anymore, a wisdom present in her, but now she’s figured out how to find happiness anyway. By the end, each Vanessa walks away, ready to become the next version of herself.

Watch the reflective music video for “Future Pain” below:

You can stream or download “Future Pain” from all the major music providers here. The song will appear on Vanessa’s upcoming album, Love Is An Art, due out in spring 2020.

In a new interview with Refinery29, Vanessa described how “Future Pain” fits in on her upcoming album, saying:

In the context of the record, this song is a more specific tale. We all have that one person that you know is bad for you, but you just keep going back into the waters. But the more general philosophy behind the song is: Why do we lean into the dark side when we know what’s going to happen?

She also answered Refinery29’s questions about the new music video:

Who are the three different Vanessa’s sitting at the bar?
“Imagine that you could sit with two former versions of yourself at a bar and have a conversation with them. I defined it pretty clearly with early 2000s, and then there’s the return of Saturn chapter, which was really painful. She comes from a place of fear. She’s very judgmental of everything. She kind of looks closed off to the world. And then we get more in our 30s, late 30s, where you just kind of are dropped into your own body and you’re like, ‘You know what? It’s going to be okay.'”
The early-2000s Vanessa was using a flip phone. Are there any other hidden details like that?
“The drinks. She has a pink-ish kinda drink, the young Vanessa. Middle Vanessa is just straight liquor. And then older Vanessa’s drinking a beer. Conceptually, when the young Vanessa gets up to leave, she presumably becomes second Vanessa. And then second Vanessa, when she gets up to leave, she presumably becomes third Vanessa, so it’s like the peeling of the onion.”

Love Is An Art

After talking about her earlier career, the #MeToo movement, and whether she’ll have a song in the upcoming White Chicks sequel, Vanessa ended the interview with Refinery29 by describing Love Is An Art, out next spring:
This is the most out of my comfort zone I’ve ever been, in terms of wanting to work with someone like Dave Fridmann and do this enormous-sounding record. I want that era to continue. I just want to keep going into the — I just saw Frozen 2 with my daughter — keep going into the unknown.

In an interview with The Cut in summer 2018, Vanessa spoke a bit about her forthcoming 6th album, revealing that it was “partially inspired by Michael Pollan’s new book How to Change Your Mind. The concept came about a few years ago, based on a collaboration with indie music producer Dave Fridmann.”

The six covers she did in 2018 may be an indication of how her new music will sound. She told The Cut:

Doing covers is a way, as a musician, to see A) where your head’s at, because how are you going to interpret this? It’s like a mirror. And then B) it’s also a place where you can experiment and try different sounds.

We can already her three previews of Love Is An Art now. In addition to the single, “Future Pain,” fans can also get a taste of two other songs. Last May, when Vanessa announced that Love Is An Art was mastered and ready for release, she also shared snippets of the upcoming title track and “Patience.” Vanessa first played “Love Is An Art” in March 2017. Fans may also remember “Patience”; Vanessa uploaded a 1-minute recording of the song to SoundCloud way back in 2012. It’s exciting that we finally get to hear a proper recording of the song!

Revisiting Vanessa’s Work

Vanessa Carlton’s last album, Liberman, came out in fall 2015. It launched stunning singles like “Blue Pool,”“Operator,” “House Of Seven Swords,” and “Nothing Where Something Used To Be.” Since then, Vanessa also released a few special albums and EPs. We got Liberman Live in 2016, followed by the Earlier Things Live EP in 2017. Then last year, Vanessa released six covers; you can now get them all in one package on vinyl.

More Vanessa Carlton News

Earlier this year, Vanessa Carlton also moved into exciting new territory: Broadway! From June 27th through September 1st, Vanessa played Carole King in the Broadway musicalBeautiful – The Carole King Musical. Will musical theater continue to play a role in Vanessa’s future or influence her own music?


Love Is An Art is due out in spring 2020. Enjoy “Future Pain,” and get ready for more news as the album’s release date draws closer. As always, keep checking back here for all the latest Vanessa Carlton music news.

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Hidden Jams

Hidden Jams is a music blog for super fans. Check out our new merch store for all of us who love music. Click "Hidden Jams" above or the image on the left to see our store.

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