I LOVE music videos and I wish that they were a more popular form of media. One can gather so much meaning from the work of the artist in them that it really bothers me when they make a video that actually doesn't covey anything. They can be so promising
(Just to get it out of the way beforehand, I know the kid looks like an alien. 0.0)
The lyrics and music video for this song are kept separate, but tell two sides of the same story: the story of mass media. The lyrics pose a general meaning, but the video gives a more storylike format.
In the lyrics, we get an analysis of the point of view of the media viewer. There is a running metaphor relating life to a waterfall in different ways. In the first, (we're one in the river and one again after the fall) is a statement on how we only coexist by pretending that everything's fine and are never united when something is wrong. the second (We drink from the river then we turn around and put up our walls) is a statement on how we use the escapism we feel in mass media (drinking from the river) to mask our true inner selves (building the walls). Onward from these are repeated stanzas that characterize how one tries to run from themselves and their problems by always looking for the next best thing in pop culture ("We lose ourselves but we find it all" "Always wanna go but you never wanna stay"). Finally, the chorus is a message to the viewer that they have to "free their eyes" from the river of media, and claim the eternal prize of having a free life. One can escape by latching onto mass media, but one will find that they are left empty.
The video itself tells it from the point of the view of the star, who also experiences a form of emptiness. We are taken through the flashbacks of a child star, whose reason for his fame is really unknown. He has everything a person could want: money, fame, and (amusingly for a child) female companionship. Yet, he quickly realizes that he is a puppet for corporate bosses, pop culture journalists, and photographers to tote around and twist his image out of proportion. In the end, he is no longer a star, doomed to live in the old shadow of his expired career, in the emptied circus he once performed in, the circus of mass media.
I wish that more artists could use the music video to the extent that these guys and several others do. It really gives you an opportunity to see into their minds, realize they're human, not just dolls that do Madonna dances.
(BONUS: As it seems that we have a considerable base of Justin Bieber haters in the class, I thought you might like to see this XD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e50vqY7Szo )