In case you do not keep up with such things, four days ago Beyoncé released a music video for “Love on Top.” Days when Beyoncé releases a music video tend to be of the red-letter variety for me; I am unashamed to admit I’ve been known to hype myself up for such days starting months in advance.
For example, my personal countdown to the release of a “Countdown” video began July 9th, which I know because I posted about the song on Facebook along with a direct appeal to God to “please bring me a music video.” I’m glad to report that he listened, though it took him about four months to respond. I’m not pissed about the delay though, since clearly he’s been busy bringing peace to the nation and healthcare to the sick and shelter to the recently foreclosed and… hum. Whatever, I’m sure he was very busy helping Rick Perry with his side-part.
Anyway… irrelevant political digressions aside, I fucking love Beyoncé. And I love Beyoncé music videos, or any video that features Beyoncé singing or dancing or talking or just being gorgeous and fabulously attired or interacting with Jay-Z in any way. But I love her music videos the most, and while I like most of her singles before they get video treatment, something about the addition of a video makes me like them a lot more.
“Love on Top” is a great example of this. Unlike “Countdown” and “End of Time,” which are dancegasm-inducing powerhouses on their own, I found “Love on Top” to be something of a non-event as a stand alone listen. Fun and catchy for sure, but it didn’t earn a spot in that tome of dancetastic excellence that is my gym playlist. But now I can’t get it out of my head, and having it in my head makes me happy.
So here’s my take on why this is. If you have any eye for dance at all, you know that The Yonce is undoubtedly the best dancer in the current pop landscape, and that the choreography in her videos is as good as it gets. I think a big part of why the videos make the songs so much more enjoyable is that in addition to the general fabulousness (and don’t get me wrong, I loovvvvvveee me some general fabulousness — have you seen this? SWOON), they give you something solid to associate with that irrepressible but non-specific urge to dance. You hear a Beyoncé song and you want to dance; you see a Beyoncé video and you know exactly what dance you want to do. You internalize the choreography, which makes hearing the music more satisfying. And this happens so effectively because the choreography, and her dancing, is so damn good that it seems completely natural — the perfect physical manifestation of the rhythm and spirit of the music you’re listening to.
“Love on Top” is a great dance video. It has a very basic fixed set (a dance studio), simple costuming (leotards, plunging tuxedo jackets) and dancing is pretty much the only thing that happens. No distractions. The choreography is cheerful, heavily rhythmic, and for a Beyoncé video it’s unusually straight forward. They’re kind of just bopping and stepping ’80s style the whole time, only in a much cooler, more fluid way than the rest of us can. It feels accessible, which is why it serves its purpose so well. You want to dance along, and unlike in “Single Ladies,” which is indisputably more brilliant but also much more obviously hard, you are deluded into thinking that maybe you can.
And God, it just looks like so much fun. To me the thing that really, truly makes Beyoncé a great entertainer is that no matter how hard she’s working she always looks so into it, like singing and dancing and sweating in stilettos in front of 200,000 people is just fucking cake. And who doesn’t want to be having that much fun? I’d venture some people want to be having that much fun so badly that they’ve occasionally found themselves trying to execute Beyoncé choreography in front of the mirror wearing a pair of ancient boxers and a company t-shirt, causing such a stomping, flailing commotion that the cat abruptly stops grooming and looks on in alarm with one paw still suspended mid-air. But, you know, that’s just some people.