Earlier this week, Olly Alexander and MNEK shared the same teaser image on their Instagram, captioning it: “broken hearts only.”
The teaser imaged featured Alexander in a bathtub full of balloons while MNEK sits on a pink chair. There’s champagne and rose petals in the bathroom, too. The video, released today, can be viewed here:
On creating ‘Valentino’ with Uzo, Alexander explained to i-D: “Uzo and I were inspired to write a song about the many fuck boys who have done us dirty. I’m lucky to have a friend like Uzo – somebody I talk to when I’m upset about a boy and working together was basically an extension of us hanging out.
“I’ve known Uzo for a while now and I’m just in awe of his talent. I hope the lyrics connect with people regardless of their sexuality – we all know a Valentino! – but I am so proud of this song for how unashamedly gay it is. Two men singing about a boy is still disappointingly uncommon so it makes me very happy to be putting this song out with MNEK.”
MNEK added: “Olly has become a really good friend of mine, so I had the best time not only producing this record but also writing and singing it with him. He invited me to perform the song with him on a few stops of the Years & Years’ tour last year which was amazing. He texted me a few days ago saying, ‘we need to put Valentino out on Valentine’s Day’ so of course I said, ‘let’s go!'”
Around the time of the album’s release, Alexander opened up about the double standards between how straight and LGBTQ performers are received.
The frontman said he was criticised for being “too erotic and too saucy” in his performance at the BBC’s Biggest Weekend, during which he wore a green one-piece outfit.
“But it’s no different to Demi Lovato or Stefflon Don or Liam Payne,” he said. “They all simulate sex on stage and they say things in their songs that are erotic, they gyrate and wear revealing outfits. People don’t bat an eyelid, but as soon as I go on stage it’s a case of, ‘Think of the children!’”
He added: “I am thinking of the children. Young people need to see a queer person being comfortable in their body.”
Alexander also revealed he had been told not to mention that he was gay when Years & Years got their record deal. He said the incident happened during a media training session when he asked the woman running it what she thought of him being gay.