I’m a Big Girl, Got No Secrets This Time

Music videos have been one of my strongest passions since I was a child: in the 80s and 90s my visual memory feasted on the eccentric and complex aesthetics that many singers introduced in their videos. I stopped watching tv in 2003 and have no intention to break this habit: as a result, I don’t watch as many videos as I used to, because spending (or wasting) time on YouTube or Daily Motion is not exactly the way I want to live my life. Yes, I watch the videos everyone is talking about, but that’s it. This morning I was checking my Facebook page, when I stumbled across a link to a video, posted by a former student of mine, a girl who loves music as much as I do. It was a link to Jennifer Lopez’s latest video, Dance Again, directed by Paul Hunter and featuring Pitbull [1].

What can I say? I watched it once just out of curiosity and it got me intrigued; I watched again and it got me excited; I watched for the third time and I asked myself if there’s something wrong with me: I was captivated! She launched her music career in 1999 and at the time I was a fan of hers: two of her songs – If You Had My Love and Waiting for Tonight – remind me of the time I met the boy that is now my husband. I still love that phase of her career but then I stopped caring about her; I kept on watching her videos, but nothing more. I don’t know the reason why Dance Again caught my attention, but maybe I can try to understand it through the following analysis.

In the opening scene, Jennifer steps into an elegant room: she’s dressed in black and has a black latex band around her upper arm. She sports her trademark glowy make-up and straight hair.

The gold necklace she is wearing on her dress is made of gold triangles: it’s a body belt necklace (I love the idea of a piece of jewellery for the body) by Giuseppe Zanotti.

The first scene that really caught my attention was the one above: a “carpet” (or I’d better say a mattress?) of human bodies is ready to take Jennifer on it. This was surely introduced in the video to convey an idea of seduction and a sexy mood. Boys and girls are wearing black underwear and some of them are wearing black masks, too.

Landed! Jennifer is leaning on the “human carpet” and somebody takes her skirt off, a prelude to her dancing outfit. Here we can also see her shoes, a pair of Christian Louboutin Isolde platform shoes with towering heels and studded straps [2]. Aggressive and kind of insane style, right?

I don’t have many qualities but I surely have a good visual memory: for this reason, the “human carpet” immediately made me think of Kylie Minogue’s Slow music video, directed by Bailie Walsh in 2003, but this reference is not quite the right one, because Kylie was surrounded by people lying on beach towels and she wasn’t lying on them. A similar situation can be found in Naughty by Elen Levon, directed by Silo in 2011. The young Australian pop sensation is lying on the floor, surrounded by boys and girls, but she’s not using them as a carpet.

My friend Kit set matters straight when she told me this scene reminded her of Beyoncé’s Baby Boy, directed by Jake Nava in 2003. In this case, Sean Paul was actually lying on girls wearing black underwear, which is exactly what we see in Jennifer Lopez’s video. This is not the only reference (call it homage or whatever) to Beyoncé’s videos, as I will show you later.

All through the video, Jennifer appears in a gorgeous “glittery” version, achieved with the use of special effects. Her skin changes colour (a bit of pink, grey and metallic black), which is even more evident in some dancing routines.

I know this connection is a bit stretched, but Jennifer’s glittering version reminded me of Waiting for Tonight, the video directed by Francis Lawrence in 1999 which featured the singer in a fascinating crystal-embellished version. In that case, she had actual crystals on her skin, the glittering was not achieved with special effects.

In the following scene, Jennifer is wearing a black bustier and is covered by black sand. This specific element is reminiscent of the black, glittering sand we can find in Upgrade U by Beyoncé – the video was directed by Melina Matsoukas in 2006. Beyonce was wearing a silver bustier by The Blonds and had a towering chignon, but the similarities of the setting are still there.

And here is the second protagonist of the video – Jennifer’s boyfriend, the 24-year-old dancer Casper Smart. Jennifer has never been shy when it comes to making her love stories public: she fell in love with one of her dancers, Chris Judd [3], who became her husband in 2001; she lived a very public story with Ben Affleck in 2002-2004; she married the fellow singer Marc Anthony in 2004. For this reason, the fact that her boyfriend is in this video is not surprising at all. There’s chemistry between them, and you can feel it, despite the fact that they’re acting in a fictional setting. The dance routine they perform together is amazing, in my opinion: Jennifer started her career in show business as a professional dancer, and she is still a great dancer.

The most anticipated scene sees Jennifer wearing a studded outfit, hair in a top knot.

The short top and the leggings are both creations by Norma Kamali. After Madonna released her Give Me All Your Luvin’ video in February 2012, the midriff-baring top has become trendy again. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that Madonna wore a Norma Kamali short top in that video, too.

The hottest scene sees Jennifer blindfolding her beau, who will soon do the same to her. While writing this, I realize one of the reasons why I like this video is that it conveys a positive mood: even the sexy scenes are not strained, they look kind of natural, so the general feeling I get is not that Jennifer is trying too hard, but that she’s just being her (and for her I clearly mean “her public/show-biz persona”).

Now it’s Casper’s turn to blindfold Jennifer. The blindfold used is a creation by Kiki de Montparnasse: it’s made of silk and has the sentence “Love is Blind” embroidered on it. This sentence is connected to the main theme of the song, which invites people to love and have fun, because life is short (Lorenzo de’ Medici docet).

The blindfold theme is often used in music videos, so in this case it’s quite hard to see what inspired the scene in Dance Again – maybe Blindfold Me by Kelis, a super-hot video directed by Mark Klasfeld in 2006 and featuring Nas; or In the Dark by JoJo, released in 2010; or another video by Beyoncé, 1+1, directed by the singer herself with the help of Lauren Briet and Ed Burke in 2011. If I think of a blindfold bearing a message, my mind goes to What’s Going On, a cover by Artists Against AIDS Worldwide released in 20o1. 

 When I said that Jennifer looks natural in this video, I was referring to her smiles, too. It’s true one can fake a smile (I think singers and actors are pretty used to it), but it’s like Casper and she were actually having fun while filming the video. Jennifer has always played the card of the sexy kitten, even while posing with her children, but in this case it’s like she’s put that attitude aside for a while.

The video is almost finished, when we realize what is the real setting: the inside of a bottle of perfume, a JLo perfume of course. She’s a master in personal branding, so I shouldn’t be surprised of this case of product placement, but I actually think it’s the only jarring note in it.

What are your opinions about this video? Do all the references to other videos annoy you or do you think they’re kind of homages? And what about Jennifer’s style here?

[1] Their first collaboration is Lopez’s single On the Floor, released in 2011.

[2] She wore the same style in metallic rose gold in March 2012 during an episode of American Idol.

[3] They met on the set of Love Don’t Cost a Thing, directed by Paul Hunter in 2001.

Source and source.

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