“No extra singles off Thank U, Subsequent,” proclaimed Ariana Grande in June — however she mentioned nothing about music movies.
This week noticed the discharge of her August Vogue cowl story, shot by Annie Leibovitz — Grande’s first time fronting the journal’s U.S. version. Equally hanging is the profile’s accompanying visible, a minimalist video for “In My Head” by former Vogue staffer-turned-director Bardia Zeinali (Shawn Mendes’ “If I Can’t Have You,” Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Party For One”). It offers an sudden enhance to one of many album’s moodiest, most underrated cuts — as a lot as you’ll be able to say that about any track with 71 million Spotify streams.
The profile and video share the identical premise: what does it really feel wish to be inside Ariana Grande’s thoughts? Over a dreamy but melodic lure beat, “In My Head” interrogates Ariana’s behavior of idealizing flawed males in her relationships. The clip traps her alone in an eerie fluorescent field, as if she’s been teleported again to the 1996 set of Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity.” On this surreal, disembodied setting, she offers one in every of her most emotionally grounded performances to this point.
In contrast to Ariana’s current sequence of flashy Hannah Lux Davis-directed blockbusters, “In My Head” treats its backdrop as a clean canvas for her bodily efficiency. Her actions are pure, solely loosely choreographed. She’s extra centered on giving face — turning her intense gaze on the digicam lens, conveying the disappointment of the track’s lyrics by way of her eyes. She’s grown tremendously as a visible artist and performer; spectacular, for somebody who wasn’t significantly recognized for her music movies till pretty lately.
Bardia Zeinali’s route deconstructs “In My Head,” as a lot because it creates. The video performs with the unique track’s construction — slicing some elements and lengthening others, letting sure traces play out a cappella. The modifying is nimble, exact, enjoying with cuts which are solely milliseconds lengthy. “I got a habit of seeing what isn’t there,” sings Ariana — solely to vanish for the blink of an eye fixed.
As Zeinali describes his idea, “It kind of started out by just finding what makes Ariana iconic: it’s the voice, it’s the ponytail, it’s the boots, it’s the silhouette.” He isolates Ariana’s signature appears, creating disembodied photographs of swaying ponytails. Within the video’s defining picture, Ariana sits nonetheless, surrounded by dozens of pairs of strolling thigh-high boots.
“In My Head” reveals how straightforward it’s for us to cut back a popstar to their iconography, but additionally, how a lot persona these symbols can comprise. That makes it the right trend video — regardless that Ariana, in her profile, claims to know little about designers. Greater than something, “In My Head” is a three-dimensional catwalk. However she’s all the time the middle of focus.
There are few 100% unique concepts in pop, and Zeinali’s route wears its influences on its sleeves. Within the late ’90s and early 2000s, it appeared as if music video administrators of all genres have been obsessive about trapping artists in fluorescent, futuristic white packing containers. Together with “Virtual Insanity,” and its not possible sliding furnishings, there’s Michael and Janet Jackson’s combative, extravagant “Scream.” Hype Williams movies like “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and “No Scrubs” virtually trademarked shiny fits, gleaming surfaces, and fisheye lenses. Even Sugar Ray’s “Fly” and *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” utilized gravity-defying rooms, utilizing them as one in every of many settings. Like magic, these movies conjured their performers right into a field in our dwelling rooms, within the final period when music movies nonetheless performed on TVs that have been formed like cubes.
It’s no coincidence that Ariana’s evoked *NSYNC a number of occasions this 12 months — from interpolating “It Makes Me Ill” in “Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored,” to performing “Tearin’ Up My Heart” with them at Coachella. Her Vogue profile reveals that at simply three and a half years outdated, she might already match JC Chasez’s distinctly R&B-tinged melodies on the radio.
They are saying nostalgia strikes in 20-year cycles, and artists like Ariana Grande and Bardia Zeinali have now have the cultural cachet to reinterpret the formative influences of their youths. Movies like “Virtual Insanity” used largely sensible, in-camera results to spark a way of visible ingenuity. “In My Head” does so too, utilizing green-clad backup dancers to create its GIF-able photos of trainers and ponytails. However for all of the video’s realizing winks, for all of Ariana’s star presence, you’re finally left with the track’s overwhelming sense of melancholy. Like her profile, “In My Head” performs with the concept that there’s no stability, no decision while you’re dwelling your entire life topsy-turvy. By all of the disorienting camerawork, Ariana stays our emotional anchor.
On the flip of the century, nobody style dominated widespread tradition — teen pop, hip-hop, R&B, different rock, and nu-metal brushed shoulders on the charts, radio, and TRL alike. In 2019, although, it appears like all of the crossover pop genres of our youths have merged into one. It’s more durable than ever to outline “pop music” — however we are able to all agree that Ariana Grande embodies it. As she’s performed so many occasions all through her profession, “In My Head” turns the previous into the long run as soon as once more.