Duplicated Divas

While every diva from Mariah to J. Lo and Britney to Taylor have taken to playing multiple roles in their music videos, there’s something to be said for those who went a step further. So, today we’re hopping into the way-back machine and setting course for the early-to-mid 1990s, when divas didn’t just populate their videos in multiple roles, they populated them with multiple versions – of themselves.

So Many Multiples

Paula Abdul – Will You Marry Me? (1992)

When Terminator 2: Judgement Day  heralded in a new era for realistic visual effects in film, music videos were quick to jump on the bandwagon. One early adopter of the new technologies that became available was Paula Abdul. Already a veteran of dancing with an “added-in-post-production” partner (MC Skat Kat in her Grammy-award winning video for  “Opposites Attract”),  Abdul took that experience, personalized it, then multiplied it by five, resulting in the video for “Will You Marry Me?”, where Paula has what is probably her most ideal set of back-up dancers – a bunch of other Paulas! (a peck of Paulas? A gaggle of Paulas? hmm…)

 

Kylie Minogue – Did It Again (1997)

Even though it came out just a few years after “Will You Marry Me?”, Kylie Minogue’s video for “Did It Again” looked light years ahead in terms of realistic visual effects. Taking a gentle jab at her own persona(s), the vid showcases a quartet of genre-spanning Kylies as they take part in a mug shot session that goes splendidly off the rails.

 

Lots n’ Lots of Lookalikes

Annie Lennox – Little Bird (1992)

Sometimes you don’t need special effects, sometimes you just need a creative solution to a problem. After the release of her debut solo album Diva, Lennox became pregnant. So, by the time she was ready to release the third single from that set, “Little Bird”, she was very much not down for the rigours of a full-on video shoot. Solution? A video concept that places Lennox up on a nightclub stage where she presides over the evening’s actual entertainment – all of whom happen to be Annie Lennox impersonators, each depicting one of her iconic video looks from across her Eurythmics and solo career.

 

Gloria Estefan – Everlasting Love (1995)

Well, if it was good enough for Annie Lennox…

Already pregnant in the video for “Turn The Beat Around, the lead single off of her Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me  covers album, Estefan was probably couch-bound and waiting for her water to break when it came time to make a video for her (U.S.) follow-up single “Everlasting Love”. Taking a tip from Lennox, Estefan avoided an exhausting video shoot by enlisting a number of impersonators in her stead.  The resulting video becomes a fun, frenzied, female-impersonator free-for-all as Gloria after era-specific Gloria strive to steal the spotlight from one another (as well as from other assorted drag divas). Unlike Lennox in “Little Bird”, the one true Gloria makes nary a cameo, appearing only in clips from her former videos whose looks are being replicated in this one.

 

Bonus: 3 x 3

Destiny’s Child – Lose My Breath

And here to show that it wasn’t just a 90s thing, Kelly, Michelle & Beyonce go head to head to head with rival versions of themselves as “Street DC” dance battles “Sleek DC” before both end up falling in line when “Diva DC” arrives on the scene.

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Movie-Inspired Music Videos

Many music videos have looked to key scenes or memorable sequences from films for inspiration. Madonna’s “Material Girl” video (a nod to Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted” (a take on the “Airotica” sequence from Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz) are just two of many notable examples.

However, some music videos go that extra mile and don’t just use a scene for inspiration, but rather the whole film, and end up becoming mini-remake masterpieces. And one such video just happens to belong to the current #1 single atop the Billboard Hot 100. So, in honour of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”, let’s take a look at some of the more exceptional movie-inspired music videos.

Iggy Azalea ft Charli XCX – “Fancy” (2014)

Australian newcomer Iggy Azalea no doubt owes part of the chart success for her debut single “Fancy” to its video, which is a spot-on redux of the classic comedy, Clueless. Azalea and her crew deftly navigate key scenes and fashions that Alicia Silverstone and company first did a lap with in 1995.

Faith No More – “Last Cup of Sorrow” (1997)

With Jennifer Jason Leigh stepping in for Kim Novak, the members of Faith No More give their melodramatic best in this homage of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. “Last Cup of Sorrow” from Faith No More’s final studio release, “Album of the Year” peaked at #14 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.

Paula Abdul – “Rush Rush” (1991)

While Keanu Reeves’ floppy hairstyle is so totally 90s, everything else about this Rebel Without a Cause-inspired video, from the fine n’ flirty fashions to the vintage vehicles hits that 50s sweet spot. “Rush Rush” spent 6 weeks at #1, and while they may not give Natalie Wood and James Dean a run for their money acting-wise, Abdul and Reeves still make a damn fine good looking couple.

Berlin – “No More Words” (1984)

For the video for what became their first Top 40 hit, Berlin chose to give their take on 1967’s iconic outlaw flick Bonnie and Clyde. Faye Dunaway was certainly fashion-forward in the film, but she still managed to “look period” — however, much like Keanu Reeves anachronistic hairstyle in “Rush Rush”, the two-toned hair of Berlin’s Terri Nunn is so totally 80s.

Line-Up Changes: Part 2

PROBLEM:  A well-known girl group is riding high on the success of their current album and recent hit singles. As they prepare to release their next sure-fire smash, one (or more!) of their members suddenly departs the group. While replacements are quickly found, the group has to figure out the best way to acknowledge this potentially career-damaging situation as they shoot their next video.

Destiny’s Child was profiled in Part 1 and now for Part 2 we’re taking a little hop across the pond.

CASE STUDY: Sugababes

In 2005, UK girl group Sugababes had just notched their third #1 single (“Push The Button”) when member Mutya Buena announced she would be departing the group to spend more with her newborn daughter (aka: she wanted to launch a solo career). In addition to finding a replacement, the ‘Babes were faced with another dilemma. This would be their third line-up since bursting on the scene in 2000, and the first one to happen mid-campaign for a current album. They prospered after the first change, but would the Suga still be sweet after another shake up?

SOLUTION: Own it

Not only did the Sugababes camp not try to hide the fact that a search was on for a replacement for Buena – they trumpeted her arrival once she was chosen. Amelle Berrabah found herself front-and-centre in her first outing as a Sugababe – the video for the single “Red Dress”. The clip, which opens with a close-up of  Berrabah singing the opening hook and later shows her confidently strutting down a hallway flanked by veteran members Keisha Buchanan and Heidi Range, placed her directly in the spotlight and let everyone know there was a new girl in town.

RESULT: Sugary-sweet success. “Red Dress” hit #4 on the UK charts and fan response was so positive that the Sugababes re-released their current  album (the #1-peaking Taller In More Ways) with Berrabah appearing on 3 redone tracks as well as another all-new track. Sugababes 3.0 went on to notch up 2 more #1 singles and another chart-topping album.

Line-Up Changes: Part 1

PROBLEM:  A well-known girl group is riding high on the success of their current album and recent hit singles. As they prepare to release their next sure-fire smash, one (or more!) of their members suddenly departs the group. While replacements are quickly found, the group has to figure out the best way to acknowledge this potentially career-damaging situation as they shoot their next video.

CASE STUDY: Destiny’s Child

In 1999, Destiny’s Child released their second album, The Writing’s On The Wall.  Soon after topping the charts with the album’s lead single “Bills, Bills, Bills”, disgruntled members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson were given the old heave-ho and quietly replaced with Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. The new line up was poised to make their public debut in the video for the album’s third single, “Say My Name”

SOLUTION: Downplay it

By using quick edits and filming each girl in a separate, colour-blocked room (with clothing  to match) along with two female backup dancers each, the video was became a sly exercise in confusion and misdirection.  The new members blended in with the gaggle of similar-looking backup dancers while original members Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland (and their visually distinctive ‘dos) pulled the focus to themselves. Also helping this stealthy switch was the fact that the new lineup was not publicly announced until right before the premiere of the video on MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL).

RESULT: Destined for success. “Say My Name” shot to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and follow-up single “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” (with a video that again emphasized Knowles and Rowland over the newer members) peaked at #4. Franklin left the group shortly thereafter and Destiny’s Child continued on to even more success as a trio.