The 30-year-old actor and singer, beloved by audiences as Artie Abrams on “Glee,” croons of love and lust on his shimmery, soulful new single, “James Dean.” The song’s accompanying video, which dropped Friday and can be viewed above, lays the sensuality on even thicker, showing a fully clothed McHale stepping into a shower with “Pose” actor Johnny Sibilly. With the cascading water dousing their T-shirts, the two men strip down and share a tender embrace as the song reaches its climax.
McHale told HuffPost he and director Justin Thorne had a number of different concepts in mind for “James Dean.” It’s his favorite song from his forthcoming EP, “Boy,” which will be released through the content platform Vydia later this month. Ultimately, they decided to improvise in hopes that the video would capture the “sweet and sexy-ish” moments of a relationship “while not taking ourselves too seriously.”
“We wanted a shower, we wanted it to feel a little editorial, we wanted it super simple, but we didn’t exactly know how it’d all come together,” he said. “We had a loose idea of what we wanted, and luckily Johnny is a beautiful saint and was down to just try it all out.”
In one scene, McHale applies eyeshadow and lipstick to Sibilly, who has toyed around with gender roles on social media. While audiences may interpret the moment as subversive one, the two men see it simply as good fun.
“I think men playing around with makeup is a wonderful thing,” McHale said. “I think showing how that can be attractive is a positive thing ... keeping it playful and sweet was the goal so we could show different sides to a relationship.”
“James Dean” is the second track to be released from “Boy,” out June 21. McHale’s debut single, “Help Me Now,” was a high-energy affair, and its video captured what he described as a “bootleg kinda gay Wes Anderson vibe,” showing him sashaying through a Hollywood mansion as an avatar on a virtual reality headset.
Having addressed his sexuality publicly for the first time last year, the actor and singer hasn’t shied away from expressing his authentic self in his new music. To mark Pride month, McHale and Vydia will donate all proceeds from June sales of the “James Dean” single to The Trevor Project, an advocacy group focused on LGBTQ suicide prevention.
Noting the sonic differences between “James Dean” and his debut single, “Help Me Now,” McHale said fans can expect the rest of “Boy” to “fill in the space between,” and promises “more word vomiting, more dancing and some nostalgia.”