'All-time favourite music video'. That's a tough one, especially for someone whose favourite anything changes from week-to-week. Although arguably controversial given the conversation around stereotypes and exoticism portrayed in the video, I chose M.I.A.'s 'Bad Girls' directed by the golden boy Romain Gavras.
Ironically, despite having always been nerdily passionate about music and visuals, and now working in the industry, I was a late bloomer consuming music videos. Our family had four channels, and occasionally a fifth if the aerial was in the right mood, so watching MTV was a luxury only afforded when at friends' houses. Perhaps this is why I have such a distinct memory of watching 'Bad Girls', as it was one of the first videos that awakened me to the statement a music video could make, outside of self-representation and interesting concepts.
It felt different to everything else I had watched. It caused controversy, it was a very visible platform representing some aspects of culture in the Gulf, taking a direct shot at the ban on women drivers in Saudi. Most importantly, it caused conversation and threw a challenge and a middle finger to the viewer.
The visuals in 'Bad Girls' are some of my favourite. The desert scapes, powerful imagery of the groups of Arab women (of which there was a noticeable absence of in mainstream media at the time), the tracking of the galloping horse trailed by two white BMWs all give you an overwhelming feeling of uncompromising self-decided empowerment. The way the Saudi culture of drifting and donuting was weaved into the narrative also fed into that.
This led me down rabbit hole of YouTube videos for weeks afterwards, ending up at videos of illegal South African drag races and one of an Eastern European teenage girl who would set cars in spins and climb out one window, onto the roof and into the other window while the car was still at full speed. She seemed as relaxed on top of a speeding car as a nail-filing MIA, and I think it is that same casually fierce, 'I'll do what I want despite what society is forcing onto me' attitude that flows through everything in MIA and Gavras' visuals.
Charlotte is a creative producer for music videos and photography with a soft spot for underground music and club culture and a passion for beautiful visuals. Check her out on Instagram over here.
Now, time for this week's best music videos: