If the saying “Life imitates art” is true, then it must also mean art imitates other art. In 2019, Beyond The Stage published “7 Best Storytelling Music Videos.” Listed were music videos that told full stories with a beginning, middle, and end all in the span of roughly five minutes. In short, they’re mini films to accompany the song they’re made for. These music videos were movies in themselves, but what about music videos that are inspired by movies—the featured length kind?
Movie inspiration can hold a multitude of effects; either emphasizing a song’s message, adding a layer of complexity and interpretation, or maybe it’s just for fun. Whatever the reason, here are five great music videos inspired by movies.
5. “911”- Lady Gaga
Starting with the newest addition out of the bunch, Lady Gaga’s “911” music is wacky, artistic, and weird. It’s Gaga. Directed by Tarsem Singh, the video’s inspiration comes from Sergei Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates, a mainly visual re-telling of the poet Sayat-Nova’s life. The music video makes numerous references to the film compositionally and it can also be seen playing in the theatre nearby when Gaga wakes up.
4. “What You Waiting For” – Gwen Stefani
Released as a single from her debut album (as a solo artist) Love. Angel. Music. Baby., the music video for “What You Waiting For?” takes inspiration from the wonderful world of Alice in Wonderland. Although a book first, the Disney animated film has become as synonymous when the name is mentioned, and through the use of color and clothing, Stefani and her team clearly held the movie in mind while filming.
Filled with tea parties and pocket watches, the video begins with a Gwen Stefani suffering from writer’s block. At the vending machine during a break from a writing session, she spots an advertisement to help her problem which leads her to an office building where the constant ticking of a clock teleports her to Stefani’s punk Wonderland and the start of the song.
3. “Thank You, Next” – Ariana Grande
This was the cultural reset. Borrowing from various 2000’s teen flick—Bring It On, Mean Girls, 13 Going on 30, and Legally Blonde, Grande condensed years of relationships and heartbreak into a flirty number and a cinematic masterpiece. What makes “thank you, next” a stand out in music video terms is the palpable sense of fun felt throughout the entire video. It doesn’t take itself too seriously while also taking itself seriously enough.
2. “Fancy” – Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
Clueless is an iconic film beloved by many. Any attempt to recreate anything so culturally deep is a risk. The more people there are who love it, the more people there are to piss off. This sentiment may scare off many, but not Iggy. What makes this music video great is that Azalea and Charli XCX make no apologies for using Clueless as the basis for their video. Azalea says it herself, she’s a “bad bitch,” and it’s that energy that carries the video to greatness.
1. “Mr. Brightside” – The Killers
This song over the years may have been allocated to “white people turnt” playlists, but it really is great music, and the music video only heightens the emotions of it. Inspired by the 2001 jukebox musical Moulin Rouge!, The Killers’s frontman, Brandon Flowers, plays a club singer who must watch as his love interest carries out an affair with a wealthy patron as bright lights and vibrant costumes blur his vision.
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