Allison Ponthier wants to know: “When celebrities — especially misunderstood famous women — pass away, what happens after they die?” On Thursday, the songstress asks that question and explores utopic afterlife in the funky music video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” off her new Shaking Hands with Elvis EP.
“In this video, ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery’ is a haven for those whose value and talents were taken for granted in life,” she tells Rolling Stone. “While I truly believe that anyone can receive the help they need to make life worth living, I always wanted to imagine the stars that were gone too soon in a place that respected them.”
The video introduces viewers to “Hat Girl” after she dies and realizes she’s only remembered for being a starlet as she reads headlines dehumanizing her with headlines like “Starlet’s Latest Role: Coffin Filler” and “Hat Girl Sheds Final Tear.” She’s then accepted by the “kooky but lovable characters” at the cemetery, including a furried Elvis.
“She becomes the best and most realized version of herself. She is home,” Ponthier says.
“Hollywood Forever” is one of the tracks on Shaking Hands with Elvis, her debut EP. She describes the project as “shouting out my weaknesses for so long that they lose their power and become strengths.” The track features songs like “Autopilot” about Ponthier’s “phobia of driving, “Chasing a Feeling” inspired by her ADHD, and “Hardcore” about her “sensitivity actually being tough.”
The title track however, is about the sudden loss of an old friend of mine,” she says. “I’ve never been afraid of talking about death, but it was particularly hard to talk about this situation. The death euphemism ‘Shaking Hands With Elvis’ was the perfect catalyst for a song about a rhinestone-studded musical afterlife for my friend. It helped me cope with loss and that’s why it became the title of my EP about using humor to talk about hard things.”
Ponthier says the songs on her new EP have come her tools “to better understand myself and the world,” and she hopes it becomes that for those who listen as well.
“I also think it’s important to say that while these songs aren’t necessarily queer in the sense that they’re love songs, at their heart, they’re queer because they tackle my identity and otherness that ultimately becomes freedom and community,” says Ponthier, who briefly toured with Bleachers this year.