Right now isn’t a bad time to be Machine Gun Kelly. After two back-to-back hit pop-punk albums, Kells is fresh off the heels of an American Music Award, his first-ever GRAMMY nomination, and now, the release of his thought-provoking new movie, Taurus! The semi-autobiographical film brings us to the verge of tears every time, almost showing MGK’s “worst-case scenario” while following a musician tormented by fame and mental illness. Every moment of the film feels so raw and reflective, and even though it was certainly heavy, it’s one of our faves we’ve watched this year.
Alongside the film, we also got an introspective song called ‘Taurus’ that reunites Kells with Naomi Wild, who appears in the movie! It’s the perfect taste of everything the film offers, and it links to quite a bit of Colson’s past work in the process. Let’s take a look at how shall we?
Warning: Spoilers for Taurus ahead! The movie and this article mention substance abuse, overdose, mental illness, and death, so please proceed with caution.
Okay, before we get into the song of the same name, let’s give a little run-down of the Taurus movie as a whole! The film follows a musician named Cole, who’s struggling to navigate fame, substance abuse, and his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter. We see him getting into loud arguments with members of his team, fellow artists, his assistant, who always looks out for him, and even his ex-wife, Mae, who he’s still in love with. Externally, we get glimpses of the hate he gets in a scene where he’s playing guitar on an Instagram Live, as well as glimpses of his lack of privacy when we see fans crowding his car.
What we don’t realize in the beginning is that we’re watching the final days of Cole’s life unfold into chaos. Taurus is a testament to the dark side of fame, a statement on how we treat public figures, and a celebration of life for the ones who don’t get to reach their redemption arc. Towards the end of the movie – when Cole realizes he’s still in love with Mae, sees how he can put more effort into his relationship with his daughter, Rosie, and starts getting inspiration to finish the ‘Taurus’ song – things feel brighter, and we’re cheering for Cole to turn things around, but he doesn’t get the chance.
‘Taurus’ is pretty much used as a metaphor for Cole’s legacy throughout the film – when we see him for the first time, he’s starting to work on this song, and his team invites Lena, a budding musician, to record vocals. When we see him alive for the last time, he’s putting the final details on the song and finally feels inspired to finish it, but he passes away before he gets to release it or show his team. The lyrics and eerie mood capture Cole’s feelings so well, resulting in an incredibly moving track you need on as many of your playlists as possible ASAP.
The Song’s Themes
Even before ‘Taurus,’ MGK hasn’t shied away from discussing how fame and living in the public eye have affected his mindset – the topic notably comes up on songs like 2019’s ‘Glass House,’ which explores everything from mental illness to familial relationships. Fame is also a major theme on mainstream sellout, to the point where we wrote a whole article on how it comes up. Can you blame us, though? It’s always interesting to see how major themes in his work change over the years and how new songs can add so much more context! Now, let’s dive into ‘Taurus…’
“I didn’t leave a letter on my desk saying ‘goodbye…’”
Cole dies of an overdose at the end of the movie, shortly after he started being more conscious about who he wants to be and how he treats those around him. Things finally feel a little more hopeful for him, only for it all to crash down to a tragic end. In a way, you can see the song ‘Taurus’ as his goodbye to his fans and loved ones, explaining his mindset and warning them to watch out for the darkest parts of life to make sure it doesn’t crush them.
This sentiment gives us big ‘play this when i’m gone’ vibes – Kells released that song in 2020 after writing it for his daughter, Casie. The idea behind the track is that even when he passes, or if things get hard, he’ll always be looking out for her in some way, even if it’s just through the lessons he taught her or the music he left behind.
“People think I left even though I’m still here…”
How many times have you seen fans online saying something like “I miss your old music” to their faves? If you’re Cole in Taurus, you’re bombarded with messages like “where’s the Cole I know?” whenever you hop on an Instagram Livestream. And if you’re a Machine Gun Kelly fan, you’ve probably seen plenty of debates over whether his older work or his newer work is better.
We believe every era of his music is absolutely astonishing, and the only true difference in content is that he’s opening up more and more with every release. He previously opened up about the pressure to please fans of “Old Colson” versus “New Colson” on his 2019 track ‘Death In My Pocket,’ another collaboration with Naomi Wild.
“I’m just asking every fan who’s questioning my passion
Thinking I’m caught up in fashion or that I forgot my past
To understand that I’m just a dropout, I don’t have the answers…”
“I’m staring at a diamond knowing that they are forever, even if my body isn’t still around to wear ’em…”
Interestingly, we don’t really see Cole wearing diamonds in Taurus, which feeds into our theory that Kells is really talking about Diamond singles. After Lena leaves the studio at the beginning of the film, she’s intrigued by how many record plaques, often given out for single certifications, are on the walls in the hallway.
And after Cole dies, she attends a meeting with his team where they offer her a record deal and promise they’ll “protect” her from the darker side of the industry, even though they clearly didn’t protect Cole and didn’t value his life enough to step up for him. We don’t get to see her answer, which suggests she might consider the deal and ultimately fall into the melancholia of fame as Cole did, blinded by the possibility of surreal success.
But, there’s a key detail that’s missing: we don’t see how Lena reacts to Cole’s death… not at the end, anyway. Right before the scene with Lena’s label meeting, we see various characters from the film reacting to losing Cole, but we notably don’t get a clip of Lena. We do get a clip of Lena crying after she leaves the studio in the beginning, so there’s a chance that was her true reaction to his death. If that was her reaction, she hopefully recognizes how the spotlight – and the very team offering to make her dreams come true – treated Cole and tore his life apart.
MGK has talked about how success leaves behind something greater than yourself, even if you aren’t respected, on 2022’s ‘god save me,’ which insists, “you die, you’re iconic, more plaques for their office.” The idea of a diamond outlasting a human body is pretty materialistic, which ties into Colson’s statement that artists’ achievements are more celebrated than the artists themselves in all their complexity.
“Seats are only full at funerals and not the weddings…”
Cole pretty much prophesied the ending of the movie with this line. The only person we really see care for Cole and stand by his side throughout his struggles is his assistant, Ilana; while his friend Bub enables his drug habits, his “lady friend” Zia is his supplier, and his management team puts a lot of pressure on him. But in the final scenes, they’re all upset even though they didn’t necessarily try to help him while he was still here, often valuing their own gain over his well-being. We’re sensing echoes of 2020’s ‘title track’ – “the ones who gas you up only come around when the flame’s on…”
“Only vows I made the other person couldn’t share ’em…”
While we don’t really learn what happened between Cole and his ex-wife, Mae, after they shared their wedding vows, we do see a few small glimpses into their relationship post-breakup. First, we hear a phone conversation between the two that takes place while Cole is high, so he doesn’t quite take her concerns seriously, and he gets confrontational. A little later, we see Mae visiting Cole in the studio to talk, but we have to gather their feelings from their body language since they’re in the soundproof recording booth. What starts off as giggles and a lighter mood turns into shoving and yelling, suggesting their fights may have been part of why their relationship didn’t work out.
The final time we see Mae, she isn’t really there. Cole is dancing around his living room with another girl, and he imagines it’s Mae instead, showing how much he’s still in love with her despite their problems. Mae is played by Colson’s real-life fiancé, Megan Fox, who he’s discussed on songs like ‘banyan tree’ and ‘sid & nancy.’ But before Megan came into his life, Kells had a fairly dismal, distrusting view of romance. On 2019’s ‘Hollywood Wh*re,’ he rapped, “even if I got a wife, she just somebody I…” We’ll stop there; let’s keep it PG!
“Afraid of having kids, I’m scared I’ll be just like my parents…”
One of the most important yet most neglected relationships in Cole’s life is his relationship with his daughter, Rosie. When she first appears by his pool, you don’t realize she’s his daughter because she calls him Cole instead of any variant of “dad” or “daddy.” He asks her why she doesn’t call him “dad,” and she says he told her not to call him that, seemingly because of his fear of being a parent or being a bad influence on her. We later find out that she had been visiting him for two days and only saw him when he was nearly passing out in the pool instead of getting to spend any quality time with him, so she goes back home with her nanny, Cassidy.
When Cole starts realizing the mistakes he’s made in his life, he fixes up Rosie’s room at his rental house and invites her to come to visit him again – this time, to actually spend time together. There’s an air of excitement when Rosie’s driving over to his house again, and she’s even singing one of his songs in the backseat of the car and telling Cassidy how she’s gonna give him a bracelet. But his overdose takes place the night before, so she comes back to an eerily quiet house.
While we don’t learn much about Cole’s family life while growing up, MGK has discussed his own upbringing several times in his music. First off, his estranged relationship with his mom is a main theme in 2015’s ‘Story Of The Stairs’ and 2019’s ‘Burning Memories.’ Meanwhile, he’s touched on his strained connection with his dad in 2019’s ‘Death In My Pocket’ and 2020’s ‘lonely,’ which also touches on his father’s death. He has a close relationship with his own daughter, Casie, which we got a closer look at in his Life In Pink documentary this year!
“Look, I’m sick of sitting inside of this room ’cause every thought I got’s negative / I’m sick of not being able to sleep and relying only on a sedative…”
Throughout Taurus, we get glimpses of Cole’s battles with mental illness, substance abuse, and life in the spotlight – all three are topics Kells brings up on 2019’s ‘Glass House,’ another track that features Naomi Wild. The first lyric of the song’s second verse follows a pretty similar structure to these lyrics – “lately, I’ve been sick of living and nobody knows how I’m really feeling.” You can almost see ‘Taurus’ as a follow-up to ‘Glass House,’ diving even deeper into these key themes that appear throughout Colson’s work.
“I’m sick of hearing another voice telling me what to do in my head again / Psychiatrist said he’s imaginary, but I know he’s real if I said he is…”
With so many voices and opinions all over the world influencing Cole, you could only imagine what impact fame has had on him and his mind. The imagery and paranoia in this couplet call back to the fear in Kells’ 2021 song ‘Daywalker,’ which explores the voices in Colson’s own head and how they’ve challenged him while he’s trying to improve himself and pursue therapy.
“I know you wanted change, but nobody’s around
So, kick him again while he’s on the ground…”
“This movie is my life, but I still remain uncredited…”
The first time we meet Cole is when Lena’s joining him in the recording studio, and his first line is, “doesn’t it feel like we’re in a movie?” While that could’ve just been a little meta moment, it also shows how Cole doesn’t see his life as a “real” one, feeling undervalued and put on a pedestal only so others can watch him fall.
From a broader perspective, Kells could be commenting on how much of himself he pours into his art – whether it’s his music or his movies – without receiving a lot of recognition for the important conversations he starts or the touchy subjects he embraces.
“My happiness is bankrupt but my credit card’s unlimited…”
Rather than tying into one of Kells’ own songs, we think this line is best supported by another song from the Taurus movie! One scene from the film shows Cole getting into the studio with Lil Tjay for a song called ‘War,’ and he shares a similar statement about how money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness – “if we being honest, the only reason why I’m smiling is because my teeth got these diamonds.”
“Find you just to remind you, that when you’re born an anomaly / Nowadays it’s probably gonna be harder to find you…”
Cole may have been talking about his difficulty finding his true self while focusing on his musical talent, but there’s an interesting tie to MGK’s own life. As we learned in the spoken outro on ‘lonely,’ delivered by his father before he passed, Colson was born with his umbilical cord choking him and had a heart issue that could’ve killed him. He was quite literally “born an anomaly,” but fought against all odds and has pushed to use his voice for good!
[As my father was dying] I was encouraged by someone to ask about my life, knowing that this could be the last time I was able to find out certain truths. I think I ultimately chose to put it on the album because it can maybe help people understand my psyche a little more, that even before I came out of the womb, I was already trying to take myself out of this world – almost feeling like I shouldn’t be here or something.
Machine Gun Kelly to Kerrang!
“Don’t leave the past behind you / Don’t forget all of the fans who ride / Go back and open up the catalog to my first songs that rewind you…”
These lines seem to be Cole’s final message of appreciation for his fans and MGK’s shoutout to EST for standing behind him all these years. His earliest music caught traction because it gave fellow outcasts a sense of belonging, and to this day, one of his primary goals is to help others feel less alone in what they’re going through. 2017’s ‘27’ is a beautiful testament to that goal and how far Colson has come over the years, celebrating his legacy while showing love to the fans who helped him get there.
“If one day, I’m no longer here in the physical
Then at least I give you my voice to listen to…”
“Growing up and having trust issues, now to everyone I say bye to / Looking up at the sky, I found a destination to fly to…”
One of the last scenes we see Cole alive in shows him standing on his patio, looking up at the sky over the Hollywood skyline. It feels very contemplative, and you want it to be a hopeful kind of contemplative, but his overdose occurs that night once he goes back inside. In the movie “looking up at the sky” has a darker context referring to heaven.
In MGK’s own work, though, the idea of reaching the sky has a much more positive meaning. See his 2017 track ‘Kiss The Sky,’ which is all about pushing through hard times and moving towards something bigger despite your obstacles. We also got some more context on how he views “the sky” during his speech at the American Music Awards just a few days before Taurus came out – he used outer space and the wider universe as a metaphor for all the places he can go creatively, and we love that he never stops pushing himself to be the best artist and person he can be.
There are some people in the rock community who called me a tourist, but they’re wrong. I’m a rocket man. We weren’t born on the moon, but we looked at it, and we were curious, and we went there… These last two rock albums, to me, were me going to the moon. But I’m not done exploring the universe yet… I’ll see you on Mars!
Machine Gun Kelly at the American Music Awards
Have you watched Taurus as much as we have already? What do you think of the titular song? Let us know in the comments below, or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! And for more Machine Gun Kelly content, because we all need more Kells in our lives, click here.