The Lizzy McAlpine Cinematic Universe


Sophia Elizondo-Bean (she/her), Staff Writer

Disclaimer: I am not claiming to know Lizzy McAlpine or her thought process. This is my interpretation. 


Twenty-three-year-old, singer-songwriter Lizzy McAlpine is a lyrical genius. McAlpine has written six music videos for her 2022 album, Five Seconds Flat, that were directed by Gus Black. The latest of the music videos is for “Ceilings”, a dreamy and heartbreaking song for those who love making up scenarios in their head that was released this Valentine’s Day. But Five Seconds Flat isn’t just an album, it’s a story. The videos are best appreciated when connected together.



The first music video released for Five Seconds Flat is from a song called “doomsday”. The video opens with the scene of a breakup on the bleachers. McAlpine watches her ex-boyfriend flirt with other girls in between clips of their relationship. The video for “doomsday” perfectly describes the feeling of knowing that the end is coming and you have no control over when and how it happens. Each scene creates an end-of-the-world feeling with dark lighting and the occasional stabbing of a pomegranate. 

She also gives viewers clues as to what day it is when a crowd of students in Halloween costumes runs through the hallway. After repeatedly referring to doomsday as the death of her, McAlpine’s face is covered in skull face paint. Her facial expressions range anywhere from sadness as she walks down the hallway to neutrality when she is “dead”. But the only time she shows a smile is when she is with her ex. 


Erase Me

The song “erase me” featuring Jacob Collier comes after “doomsday” in the Lizzy Mcalpine cinematic universe. The video shows McAlpine trying to move on from her past relationship and still feeling empty. Throughout the video, McAlpine meets new people, parties, and drinks to erase her ex. A series of one-night stands is what’s erasing him but she wonders who will erase her. McAlpine returns to the bleachers where her relationship ended and finds her ex. As the camera turns back to her, the skull face paint reappears.


All My Ghosts

The third and most adorable Five Seconds Flat music video is for a song called “all my ghosts” which takes place three years after “Erase Me” in the storyline. At this point, McAlpine has found someone new and is happy in her relationship. But she is worried about her “ghosts”, bad habits, and past experiences. McAlpine knows that all her ghosts are with her and hopes they aren’t familiar with her new partner because she wants to believe he is good. This song includes multiple relatable lines about free 7-Eleven slurpees and spilling mac and cheese. The video is a combination of happy dancing and cute couple moments that are impossible not to smile at. If you are in need of a quick pick-me-up, “all my ghosts” will do the trick. But this music video isn’t all fun and games. After admitting that she loves her boyfriend, she turns to the 7-Eleven window to see her ex on the sidewalk. But he then disappears when she walks outside of the store. 


Reckless Driving

Next is “reckless driving”, featuring Ben Kessler, a convoluted masterpiece built on metaphors. In this song, McAlpine’s boyfriend is described as a reckless driver because he will do anything to keep her looking at him. Whereas McAlpine is a careful driver because she wants him to stop being impulsive so that nothing bad happens to him. They love each other in different ways which could lead to them getting hurt. This is showcased in the video which starts with them happily traveling together and soon becomes a heated argument on the street. Her boyfriend shatters a bottle on the ground proving he is reckless and explosive. But It first took a turn for the worse when McAlpine saw that he was wearing skull face paint.  And of course, she couldn’t call the song “reckless driving” without a near accident which is why the video ends as the car quickly approaches someone wearing the skull face paint. 

One of the biggest questions in this creative storyline is what the face paint represents. Some believe that it represents unrequited love. McAlpine was heartbroken in “doomsday” when her relationship ended because she still loved her ex. She was in love when she ran to the school bleachers to see her ex in “erase me”. During “reckless driving”, her boyfriend was in love with her and she couldn’t reciprocate in the same way. But regardless of how it’s interpreted, the skull face paint was a creative addition to the music videos that added a sense of mystery. 


Hate to be Lame

The song “hate to be lame”, featuring Finneas, flashes back to when McAlpine realized she loved her ex. The video first shows them laying in the park and dancing in empty rooms which paints this perfect picture that she doesn’t want to mess up by saying too much. But simultaneously, she feels that saying those words will stop him from letting her go. Then during the bridge, it transitions to playing clips from the previous music videos that show everything she went through to recover from the relationship. But ultimately that didn’t matter because as much as she hates to admit it, she did love him. 



The most recent music video for Five Seconds Flat is for “Ceilings”. The music video follows McAlpine as she imagines a relationship where she doesn’t mind being rained on because they are together. She sings “ it feels like the start of a movie I’ve seen before” because she associates the perfections of this imaginary person with people she has been with in the past. But she already knows how it will end since the relationship is only real in her head. 


The Five Seconds Flat music videos are cinematic masterpieces that are most appreciated when watched in order. The artistic expression of metaphors and hidden meanings throughout the videos make them the perfect media to consume for those who enjoy decoding messages. So sip on a 7-Eleven slurpee, pop open youtube, and solve the mystery of the skull face paint, it’s time to analyze.