all the iconic 00s music videos referenced in normani’s “motivation”
A star is born.
For years now, new popstars have sure, delivered bops, but failed to give us true superstar moments. Yes, we’ve had success stories and seen stars rise to meteoric fame, but no one has come with the desire for pop’s crown so visibly in their sight. Until Normani. Dropping her debut solo single “Motivation” this morning -- a track co-written by Ariana Grande, Max Martin, Ilya Salmanzadeh, Savan Kotecha and Normani herself (so basically the masters of pop music) -- Normani came with her things and told everyone else to eat it.
The track, clearly inspired by Beyoncé’s Coachella performance and the Rich Harrison-produced pop of the early 2000s (think “Crazy in Love”, J-Lo’s “Get Right”, Amerie’s “1 Thing”), is a horn-filled smash with bouncy percussion and a chorus so catchy your eyes will water.
But the song isn’t where Normani’s ambitions end. The music video for “Motivation” is a clear mission statement, a way to cement her stature as pop’s brightest new star. Even more impressive is the means by which she stakes her claim for supremacy: by honouring those legends in pop’s pantheon. The clip, directed by Dave Meyers and Daniel Russell, pays homage to those stars of the late 90s and early 00s who shaped Normani into the popstar she has now become, while placing herself in their midst. A power move if we’ve ever seen one.
To help you pick out all the references that Normani has packed into “Motivation”, we’ve broken down the video so you can go get your 2000s on.
Opening with a child version of Normani watching BET’s 106 & Park and imagining she’s got the number one video on TV, the clip cuts to what is clearly an homage to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love”. Normani, in a white crop top and low-rise blue jeans, her hair cascading down her back, struts in slow-mo down a street, putting her spin on Bey’s now iconic video opening.
The clip cuts to Normani wearing a top declaring her birth year (1996!) before her and her girl gang get to dancing in the street. There are echoes of Ciara’s “1, 2 Step” and “Oh” featuring Ludacris.
After she literally twerks while climbing a wire fence, the video cuts to a basketball court. Here, Normani has some fun. Not only is the set the same as the one used in J-Lo and Ja Rule’s “I’m Real”, but the camerawork here mirrors the close-up shots of J-Lo dancing.
Of course, you can’t have a basketball reference in your video without paying homage to Britney Spears’ “...Baby One More Time”. Although Normani’s nods to Brit are subtle -- a pirouette here and there -- then there's that incredible double back handspring, which feels like both Britney, and Usher and Tyrese's dance battle in "My Way". The relentless choreo shifts once more to a scene that clearly references the video for Omarion’s 2004 song “Touch”, while once again giving CiCi her dues. Also, Step Up 2 anyone?
In fact, Ciara’s influence is visible throughout the whole video. During the segment that sees Normani crawling around the floor in the rain dressed in jewels -- hi Beyoncé’s Dangerously in Love album artwork -- the choreo is reminiscent of CiCi’s “Gimmie Dat”, with subtle nods to Bey’s “Baby Boy” and Ashanti’s “Rain on Me”.
The video’s finale has the colour pallette of 3LW “No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)”, and even Nelly and Kelly’s “Dilemma”, while the tight and together choreo with the dancers has hints of Janet Jackson’s “All For You” and, of course, more Ciara.
There are likely more references waiting to be discovered. But when a video is this good, you can rest assured that we’re going to spend the rest of the month seeking them all out. Nevertheless, by honouring those who have gone before her, pop might have just found its new queen.