Willow Shields
Willow Shields

London’s least professional music photographer and journalist, can be found most evenings in your local small venue drinking vodka lemonades and being told secrets.

The 1975’s Matty Healy is either the genius of our musical generation or the worst person in the world. But I want to kiss him, and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it

I want to start this off with prefacing that I am definitely biased, but as I recently learned from an anthropologist on TikTok, every single human being is biased and to pretend not to be is furthering one’s own agenda. So, I am biased. In this piece I’ll discuss the reasoning behind why I want to kiss the most unhinged front man on the internet right now.

I, like many other people my age, have had a crush on The 1975’s lead singer since 2014. The era of monochromatic outfits, skater skirts, ripped tights and sad indie music. Where Lana Del Rey, Marina and The Diamonds and Cigarettes After Sex ruled the teenage psyche. The fourth horseman of this Tumblr fueled age being, The 1975. The reason this era of society is important to note is because of the significance of nostalgia in the current trend-verse. I personally believe that due to most of us being forced to sit with our thoughts for that little two year stretch. We, as a collective, have doubled back and are responsible for bringing back things we loved in teenager-hood. Hence, The 1975 returning better than ever. And yes, one could argue that they are responsible for their own success. But I would say that if society wasn’t ready or responsive to what they are currently putting on the table, this tour, this renaissance of The 1975, would ultimately have failed. 

The 1975 have been on tour of the USA since November and are just about to start their UK stretch, today. The anticipation of what’s to come is visibly buzzing through UK fans, after seeing what has been happening across the pond. The live shows are always a spectacle, this tour is no different. The stage design alone proves that. This tour does feel different though, seeing only videos of it, I can’t be sure. But it feels more clever, more deliberate than their previous tours. Matty Healy is playing his character. That he’s constantly building upon. Drinking, smoking, crying and screaming on stage. ‘The performer loses grip of his humanity’. It feels like high art, something a lot of people won’t understand just looking at it. But thinking deeper into the reasoning and exploring the meaning of his actions, we can start to get a better picture of the concept. The perfect example is the Madison Square Garden show in New York City. The real introduction to the world of what the show was about, and what was to come. Matty went from standing on a roof, to stroking the ghost of his fictional ‘Robbers‘ girlfriend, to then kneeling next to a TV screen displaying Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak and eating raw steak, to sitting on the sofa smoking a cigarette looking as if he was receiving head. Which is just brilliant, the concept of acting out such an intimate moment, on a stage that looks like a house, while thousands and thousands of people scream with hysteria. I absolutely love it. So let’s address it. For the most part, the first impression that Matty Healy imprints on someone is that he is a bit of a narcissistic twat, basically. It seems that he is truly a bit of a twat. But it plays into the character. And the show, the art, the music is so beautiful I’m inclined to overlook it. Although, he is so utterly self aware to the point that perhaps, he’s the only person who truly understands why he does what he does. I believe that anyone who hates him as a concept, just doesn’t understand the meaning of his actions. He conducts himself respectfully and beautifully, and really cares about the fans. The way he says things, or phrases things on social media, I think, is to prove to people who dislike him that people will still love him no matter what he says. Also he’s only minorly problematic compared to some of his counterparts. – See Machine Gun Kelly.

Now, to go through the events as we have seen them. After thirteen shows, twelve cities. There was Vegas, night one. No-one was expecting anything different from the dates before, but crucially something changed that night. The morning after, TikTok was buzzing with the news: “Matty Healy kissed a girl during ‘Robbers‘ last night.” And no one knew who she was. Suddenly, we were transported back to 2014, where Matty brought a fan on stage and sang ‘Robbers‘ to her, holding her close to his chest and ending the interaction with a kiss. The Robbers kiss went down in history, mirroring the music video in which Matty and the unnamed girlfriend/ villain (Chelsea Schuchman) share a beautifully cinematic kiss. [Pictured below].

The many, many videos of all the different angles of this Vegas night one kiss then made their rounds on TikTok, with the general response being a resounding “I wish that was me/ It should have been me”. Then! A possible scandalous development. The first ‘Robbers‘ kiss girl in 8 years, allegedly had a husband. (Which shouldn’t have been as scandalous as it was but the internet does what it does.) This then sparked a debate between The 1975 aware couples online that “If I kissed Matty Healy on stage would you be mad?”. It’s an interesting concept to discuss, because he is an anomaly in the system. You wouldn’t go to any other live show expecting to be brought on stage and kissed in front of thousands of people. But with The 1975, it’s a possibility which should always be entertained. It reminds me of a video of Matty Healy I saw recently from around 2014/2015 where he said something to the effect of “I know you’re probably thinking ‘I couldn’t pull one of the members of this band’, but you should try.” 

The next night, the band played Vegas again, and once again during ‘Robbers‘ he kissed another fan. Matty brought up a guy in a checked shirt and slow danced and then kissed him. The timeline gets a bit messy to fact check from there until six dates later in Milwaukee. At one of those six shows though, he said “I’ve kissed a girl, I’ve kissed a guy, I’ve kissed a Black girl, I haven’t kissed an Asian person yet. You have a Hijab on… No, she’s saying hard no.” and then made a joke, making sure the girl wasn’t uncomfortable, and swiftly moved on. At the Milwaukee show, he was running around like a feral cat and ended up snogging two members of the camera crew they have with them on tour. Two nights later in Minneapolis, a girl in the front row held up a sign asking for Matt to be her first kiss. In the video of this interaction the band’s security can be seen asking for the girl’s ID, which we’ll talk more about later. And then Matty checking it by biting it, before jumping down to the barrier to kiss her. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face while watching the full video. The next night in Newport, Matty got tattooed on stage, and invited a girl who had been camping in the queue up on stage to get a tattoo as well. They sat on the sofa together going through designs, Matty drawing for her. And she hugged him around his neck while sitting next to him, while crying. They played ‘Robbers‘, and Matty sat on the sofa with her for the entire intro chatting to her, as if they were the only two people there. This one, I properly cried at. The final date of the US tour, Pittsburgh, Matty jumped down to the barrier to the only girl who knew the lyrics to the song they were playing. Asking the crowd but more importantly her “shall i go down in the chorus and kiss her?” He then excitedly said to her “I’ve met you before!” and after the kiss she told him she loved him and he kissed her hand and then ran back on stage. And then finally stated “That’s it now, I’m done now. It’s done.” 

Matty Healy kissing fans could be, and has been misconstrued as a creepy front man abusing his power to get with his younger fan base. However, I truly don’t think this is the case. This is not someone jumping into the crowd and kissing and touching younger people who don’t want to be kissed or touched. This is predominantly young women holding up signs asking to be kissed, the security and Matty age checking and ID’ing people, asking multiple times for consent and checking in after. It is unequivocally an act of fan service. With all of the shows they play being recorded on thousands of phones around every arena at every second, I think Matty is acutely aware of what he says and what he does. People I’ve talked to about the kisses have said that it’s weird to be IDing fans. But I would argue, with the age range of these shows being mostly 14 – 26, it’s so much less problematic to ID fans he’s kissing. Instead of blindly kissing people, the internet finding out their underaged and then the band being cancelled. Every single person in the arena knows the situation, and the risks of it, and are still excited by the prospect. So the band and their team are taking precautions to make sure everyone in every interaction is safe and consenting. Which I think is beautiful. He knows the position he is in, he knows he’s a sex symbol to many fans. And giving fans the chance to have a unique and life changing experience with one of the most famous men in the world right now, is fan service. 

To recap, and conclude. Matty Healy, and The 1975 are one of the biggest bands in the world right now. And that’s because they’re doing something no one else is, (except for Yung Gravy that one time) kissing their fans. A statement of love, and adoration for their fan base, for the people who made and continue to support their careers. And it also keeps their live shows exciting. The 1975At Their Very Best’ is a horny show. It was always planned to be. And to bring in the element that the people on the front row might get a smooch? That’s the cherry on top. What makes it better is the fact THEY ARE IDing people, because it makes sure people are safe and fully consenting and I cannot stress enough that is the most important element, consent! That is mainly ignored in other music scenes and situations. I’ve never seen or heard as many people talking about one band as much as everyone is talking about The 1975 right now. I want to kiss Matty Healy because he is clever and he is aware. Aware of the world, and how to create art criticising it while also basking in its beauty. Aware of his position in the world and the role he plays in society. Aware of the important rules of consent everyone should be implementing, and sticking to them. Aware that he’s a bit of a twat, but a loveable one at that. That’s why.

Listen to ‘Being Funny in A Foreign Language’ here: