Kendrick Lamar ft Rihanna – LOYALTY
When I first started watching this video, I was disappointed, because while I could hear Rihanna’s harmonies sweetening the hook, she didn’t immediately materialise in the shot. But then the words “Bad girl Riri now” christened my headphones like a gentle but dangerous embrace, and she appeared in a diamond encrusted choker and spat her gum in Kendrick’s face. It was everything I wanted and more. Everything I never knew I needed until the image blazoned my eyes. The death defying pair crash a BMW and laugh about it afterward. There’s also the part where they sink into the road like quicksand. Kendrick beats up a dude twice his size to the adoration and amusement of his most loyal companion/henchwoman. And then there’s the shot where Kendrick swings Riri over the edge of a skyscraper, just because it looks cool I assume. The world glows in tiny lights many feet below them and everything else seems small and insignificant after witnessing this night of dare-devilry and thrill seeking.
SZA – Supermodel
SZA’s video for ‘Supermodel’, off her latest album Ctrl, has her taking care of a shitty ex-man or soon to be ex-man with an adorable band of fairy children. Torture never looked so cute. The mystical children blow the singer fairy dust kisses and accompany her through heartbreak and her route to becoming a stronger person. Literally and figuratively, SZA finds herself out of the woods and greets her tiny companions with the warmest, most genuine, tingle inducing smile. Plastered on the wall at the beginning, is Beauty and the Beast. She emerges from an Alice in Wonderland vibe tent looking like an actual fairy tale, thanks to the soft, daydreamy, dust catching light, that catches as she winks through glittery eyeshadow. Her empowerment is represented via fireworks that shoot out of her fingertips, and it’s pure badassery. By the end of the video, she too blows fairy dust, and the children are no longer there. That means they were in her the whole time, right? They were the magic she had to uncover within herself. I’m not crying, you are.
Khalid – Young, Dumb & Broke
Okay, so a lot of us probably don’t want to be reminded of High School. But this video for up and coming RnB star, Khalid’s song: ‘Young, Dumb & Broke’ is acceptable. For one, it’s a lot more pretty than you most likely remember High School was. American High School traditions seem so much cooler anyway. We get to see a bunch of dreamy and stylish individuals embracing yearbook style superlatives. ‘Most likely to succeed’, ‘Most creative’, ‘Class Clown’. And of course, there’s Prom King and Queen, rightfully awarded to Khalid himself, and Fifth Harmony babe, Normani Kordei. There are some corny parts, like the principal’s last message to students and wishing them luck in the real world, “because you’re going to need it”. The Janitor throwing away his mop and wishing he’d taken a different path in life. But Khalid’s youth and innocence makes it sweet and heart warming rather than tired and derivative.
Charli XCX – Boys
Charli XCX’s pastel daydreams come to life in her directorial showcase for the ‘Boys’ music video. The pop star saturates our screens with pink and a selection of boys of different colours and shapes just staring into the camera and being cute. It doesn’t sound too revolutionary, but in an industry where girls are meant to be the objects of affection and not the other way around, it’s really cool and refreshing to see. Plus we get to see a gentle side to some recognisable faces, including rappers: Joey Bada$$, Aminé, Tinie Tempah, G-Eazy, Denzel Curry, Stormzy, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign and D.R.A.M. Internet sensations: Connor Franta and Cameron Dallas. Plus some pretty influential musicians and producers: Charlie Puth, Dan Smith of Bastille, Ezra Koenig and Mark Ronson, Jack Antonoff, Panic at the Disco’s Brendon Urie, Vance Joy, Khalid, Diplo, Vampire Weekend’s Rostam, Kaytranada, and Mac Demarco, to name a few. And of course, there’s Joe Jonas who needs no introduction. I admit this one almost didn’t make the cut, as it did come out last Wednesday. But it’s branded in my eyeballs now, how could I not include it?
Brockhampton – Gummy
Brockhampton, the rising hip-hop collective, originally from Texas and now making themselves home in California, seem to be unstoppable. The group released their last eclectic and compelling album, Saturation, in June. Now they’re making their way back into our lives and speakers with this first single for what’s supposedly called, Saturation II, set to be released this month. The collective, or ‘boy band’ as they call themselves, produce their own videos, which they shoot in their neighborhood on a D grade budget. Kevin Abstract is the group’s designated director, and he cites Reservoir Dogs and Baby Driver as inspiration for the video. The gang is involved in a bank heist, as explained in Spanish by Roberto, who traditionally appears at the beginning of their videos. Abstract does his best M.I.A impression in the chorus. Oh, and there’s an alpaca. If this is the direction for the new album, then I’m excited, because… its fire. But the thing about Brockhampton is, you can never predict what’s going to come next based on previous sounds. I’m in for the ride anyway, we’re all going to be pulling up in our own kiddie cars to this song.
Kevin Abstract – Miserable America
Kevin Abstract is back at it again with a video for ‘Miserable America’, off his solo project, American Boyfriend, which he dropped last year. American Boyfriend is a slight departure from Brockhampton’s usual joints, only in the way that it solely focuses on Kevin’s experiences and is a deeply personal reflection on High School, growing up, self-discovery and identity. Influences, as usual, are all over the place. But it shares some of the hazy, angsty qualities of 90s rock bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins, and strangely, some touches of early 2000s pop punk. There are also traces of his usual contemporaries such as Childish Gambino, Kid Cudi, and Frank Ocean. The twenty-one-year-old artist directed this video as well, with colour and editing help from Brockhampton creative director, HK. Visually stunning and eerie, the video confronts racism and homophobia. Kevin Abstract overcomes the monsters that haunt him.
Daniel Caesar – We Find Love/Blessed
This combination video features two tracks off the upcoming Daniel Caesar album, Freudian, which drops on the 25th of this month. The twenty-two-year-old dropped his project, Pilgrim’s Paradise, back in 2015. Sepia, grainy, and saturated with shadow and light, this video has a definite vintage and nostalgic vibe. Burning and smoke, renewal, masks, vintage cars, what looks to be ruins and ancient statues. And, what appears to be a vintage phone of at least a decade ago, reminiscent of Adele’s bygone device in ‘Hello’. Caesar seems to have an affinity for combining the old with the new, and he does it effortlessly. Each track features a different lover, making the title ‘We Find Love’ all the more intriguing and complex. Is love a renewable source? Is it lasting? Is second love just as meaningful as first love? These are probably all topics Caesar will dive into on the next album, especially since he described it as the proudest his been of anything in his life, and the most exposed. “This body of work is about examining my most complex feelings and thoughts more directly”. Whatever the artist has in stall for us, there are definitely going to be some tears.
Lorde – Perfect Places
Every time the queen of aesthetics drops a video, I have to prepare myself emotionally, to be perfectly honest. Thoughts that seem to surface every time include: ‘Why isn’t this me?’ Why didn’t I think of this?’ And the age old: ‘What am I doing with my life?’ Her videos are always so gif worthy, to the point that It’s increasingly difficult to narrow down the selection and instead I just settle for a smorgasbord of Lorde visuals. ‘Perfect Places’ is a prime example. Beach shores, jungles, exotic dining tables, villa balconies, secluded islands, atop of rowing boats, wading through tall grass in a straw hat, dancing around bonfires, floating in shallow creeks, dangling where the water crashes against the rocks, waterfalls, dim lit rooms, lounging and sipping china tea sets, downing champagne. She does it all. Over and over again. If this doesn’t make you consider dropping out of uni/your job and fleeing to the seaside in a silk gown and a floppy sun hat, I don’t know what will!