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.

Pop, Pop, Pop!

The three “Pop”s in the title above refer to that magical instance when: Pop (1) meets Pop (2) and it results in a Pop (3), a piece of pure perfection.

Or, to be less vague, it’s when Pop (Singers) collaborate with Pop (Drinks) to make commercials that become pieces of Pop (Culture) perfection.

Now, singers have been shilling sodas for decades, but starting in the early 1990s and peaking just over a decade later, the big soft drink companies of the world went all-in on their popstars + pop drinks mission, and the results just kept getting bigger and better. Today I’m going to touch on just a few notable ones that have remained my favourites over the years.

Also, be sure to check out the very end of the post for a little gem that predates this whole era and is not only a blast from the past but a blast of yesteryear pop culture that will blow your mind.

Paula Abdul (Diet Coke)

Paula Abdul brought a whole new visual dynamic to pop music when she burst on the music scene following years of choreographing music videos for other artists. It only made sense then, that in the early 90s she was tapped by Diet Coke to be their spokesperson and star in a series of commercials that utilized her talents as both a vocalist and dancer. The most notable of these was a highly ambitious project that took remastered film versions of older Hollywood stars like Cary Grant, Groucho Marx and Gene Kelly and integrated them into newly-shot scenes with Abdul (remember, this was LONG before CGI and hologramming). For Abdul’s part, she was already a pro at dancing with and reacting to someone wasn’t actually there (namely, one MC Skat Kat, the animated costar of her “Opposites Attract” video), so she’s aces all around. Also, I believe at the time, this was one of the most expensive commericals ever made.

 

Spice Girls (Pepsi)

Somehow during their non-stop whirlwind tour of world domination in the mid 90s, the Spice Girls found the time to do some shilling for Pepsi – and it was some serious, next-level cross promotion. In this particular advert, our lovely Spices are singing the track “Move Over” from their then-current second album Spiceworld. One of the oft-repeated lyrics of “Move Over” has the girls chanting “Generation Next, Generation Next”. And guess what Pepsi’s slogan at the time was? Yup. So, with Pepsi’s slogan earworming its way onto every Spice fans playlist, not only did “Move Over” become “that Spice Girls song in the Pepsi ad”, it became “that Spice Girls song that IS a Pepsi ad”.

 

Britney Spears (Pepsi)

And then there was Britney.

This is what I feel is the peak of the popstar/pop drink collaboration era, because I doubt we’ll ever see such a long-running, high profile pop/pop collab as the one forged between Britney and Pepsi. One that resulted in the pieces of pop culture that is their Holy Trinity of ads from the early 2000s. Each Pepsi commercial that Spears did was an EVENT and they were treated as such (and premiered during Super Bowls, natch). The first was a full-on music video, (Brit’s “The Joy of Pepsi” is closer to an actual commercial single than commercial jingle) with Britney and her legion of backup dancers taking over a Pepsi factory before relocating to a rooftop billboard (hello Justin Timberlake cameo!), while the third was a historical mini-movie set in the Roman Coliseum and featured not only Britney, but Pink (!) AND Beyonce (!!) as gladitors singing “We Will Rock You” (also there, in a non-singing role, Enrique Iglesias – because, why not?).

But my favourite was her second commercial (showcased below) which featured Britney in snippets of Pepsi ads from “across the eras” and fans could vote for which version got her full stand-alone commercial (decade-old spoiler alert, the 50s version won). How much do I love this one? Well, let’s just say that I ripped the audio from it, put it in my iTunes library and it is STILL one of my most top-played tracks ever (what that says about me, I’m not so sure…)

 

Beyonce (Pepsi)

As I mentioned, since the Britney era we haven’t seenas  many of the high profile pop/pop ad campaigns as before, but that doesn’t means the soft drinks companies have gone soft on pop stars. These days they just seem more focused on smaller campaigns featuring more “niche artists” like Tori Kelly and Janelle Monae. However, Beyonce did do an advert for Pepsi just a couple of years ago, that for some unknown reason was never released. But it is STUNNING, and it is right up there with the best from Brit’s heyday, so it’s being included here as well.

 

And now for an extra-special, way,way back bonus:

Ann-Margaret (Canada Dry)

This musical number/crash course in late 60s pop culture is BONKERS and I love it. If ever there was such a thing as a “soft drink expert”, Ann-Margaret has convinced me that SHE is IT, now and forever. Cheers!

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.