Dance and music videos go together like peanut butter and chocolate, salt and pepper, bacon and eggs, coffee and newspapers.
Janet Jackson has made dance music videos forever, and my fake news version of “forever” includes before Dua Lipa was born. (She’s 23, so yes, no lie.)
Today, we’re looking at the latest from Janet, MADE FOR NOW, versus an interesting twist on the dance video from Dua, IDGAF, and yes, if you’re offended by bad words, Dua has a bad one right up there in the title. Sorry. Didn’t write the song.
First up: Janet, then Dua, before we dissect both videos.
I bet you the title to my car that Janet’s video cost far, far more than Dua’s–it certainly looks slick and expensive.
In this case, money and production values don’t win.
Dua has a better song and a far, far more entertaining video.
The acid test to me is whether (a) you’d have to pay me to rewatch it or (b) I’d happily watch and listen to something again. I’ve happily put IDGAF on loop while you’d have to pay me to hit replay on MADE FOR NOW, a repetitive song and boring video.
And that’s too bad. Janet’s got talent to burn. She’s made iconic music videos for years.
RHYTHM NATION was groundbreaking and still works today.
So I’m disappointed because Janet’s playing it safe with this. So safe that it fails.
Here’s the thing: once you’ve already had crazy success and so much cash you can’t spend it without buying private islands in the South Pacific, playing it safe is a losing strategy. You’re coasting instead of pushing yourself, and the audience feels it.
Though I’m no fan of Madonna’s music, she did a tremendous job of recognizing this and picking a hot new producer for every album to reinvent herself. That was bold and risky. It made her a star for decades instead of a one-hit wonder.
The best music–rock, pop, rap, whatever–attacks the status quo.
Aggressively. Relentlessly. Without mercy.
The worst music defends the status quo.
Limply. Lamely. Apologetically.
If you’re a famous singer or band, please take your piles of money and try to make something insanely different, new and interesting.
Because that’s the real point of art, to shock us into seeing the world in a different way.