Anatomy of a Music Video: Color & Choreography

Pop music as both a genre and a concept is an exercise in minimalism: distilling life’s profundity into sound bite catchphrases of choruses that, paired with the right beat (or in many cases, beat drop), utilizes simplicity as the means of making an anthemic statement. Some of the most iconic visual accompaniments for these songs are cases in which the visual styling mirrors the lyrical minimalism; a muted aesthetic is paired with the straightforward nature of the song’s words, creating an ambiguous abstraction that amplifies the ambient rhythms or repeated lines in a lyric. In choosing to not ground the song in a movie-like narrative, but instead framing the song within choreography performed in an indistinct or unfamiliar setting, a story is still told—one that still sets a tone for how the song is consumed, the ambient lighting of a club or the dark intimacy of a nighttime drive subtly referenced in the monochromatic aesthetic of the music video set.

In Christine and The Queens’ “Tilted,” Héloïse Letissier’s choreography is set against a radiant cobalt blue, her playful movements reading as a dance sequence from a dream. In Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” his much-memed, now-iconic dance moves are framed within a geometric background that pokes fun at the notion of “high-low,” the minimalism of the set elevating the lightheartedness of his movements. In Dua Lipa’s “IDGAF,” her pouty, stoic expression and explosive gestures themselves serve as a middle finger to the ex she denounces in the song. And in Beyoncé’s “Partition,” we’re simply reminded that she is a goddess, the rest of us are mere mortals, and Jay-Z is still on our shit list.

-Marissa Passi