It’s certainly one way to get us to care about Tidal.
The music streaming service absorbed the ire of the entire music-loving world after staging a despicably masturbatory and narcissistic launch in March—16 of music’s wealthiest and most famous artists, the Avengers of Pop Music, assembled to announce that they were becoming part-owners in a music service that charges up to $20 a month (more than any other streaming service) to listen to music. Why so expensive? Because the money is going directly into these multimillionaires’ pockets.
The off-putting circle jerk just about killed Tidal before it could even launch. And now, the service is employing the only weapon that can truly save it: Beyoncé.
And—oh hey!—Nicki Minaj is lending her hand, too.
If you’re among the few paid subscribers to Tidal, you were gifted today with exclusive access to the duo’s new music video for “Feeling Myself.”
Shrewd move, guys! The video is excellent. Beyoncé and Nicki are on their game. And the fact that you can only watch it if you pay for Tidal, well, it’s just so good that it might actually be worth ponying up the cash.
Well played, Jay.
“Feeling Myself” is a single of Minaj’s latest album, Pinkprint, with Beyoncé’s involvement presumably the returned favor for Minaj guesting on the remix for “Flawless.” The song itself is a superb example of catchy nothingness, featuring traded swagger between two of music’s most ferocious lyric-spitters, centered around a satisfyingly braggadocio chorus that has the pair repeating that they’re “feeling myself.”
Based on that, the video, released by surprise a day after Taylor Swift’s own exhaustively promoted clip, is perfect.
In the video, Beyoncé and Nicki, basically, don’t do anything. It’s a montage of the two artists vamping for the camera, a slideshow of look-at-me-I’m-fabulous scenes that are as visually stunning as they are seemingly random and unstaged. No storyline. No message. Just slay.
In one frame, there they are tooling around under a highway street sign that says “Coachella.” In another, they’re baking in the kitchen. Grinding in front of a car. Twerking in a bathroom. Is that Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj playing with water guns in a kiddie pool? And, oh my god, chowing down on hamburgers? How weird! How fabulous.
“Feeling Myself” is in the vein of Beyoncé’s semi-recent “7/11” video. It’s another example of that Beyoncé-perfected thing, where she makes an obviously carefully orchestrated and complicated video shoot come off as casual improv.
It’s a smart idea in the age of glaringly overproduced, loud, and bombastic music videos. The homegrown, DIY aesthetic of the clip appeals to fans because of the relatability of it. Beyoncé dances around the house with a glass of wine in her hand? I do that! Can I, too, be Beyoncé? We can all be Beyoncé!
And now, we can be Nicki Minaj, too!
Don’t be mistaken. Pulling off a video like this requires a painstaking amount of work and planning, even if it’s meant to come off as gritty and haphazard. Still, it’s a refreshing reprieve from the culture of excess and shamelessness that’s taken over the world of music videos in pop music lately.
It’s fitting that the message of “Feeling Myself” and the ensuing video basically just heralds the confidence of two of music’s fiercest performers, because it takes a lot of confidence to execute something as understated as this. Those massive videos with lots of hype, special effects, and cameos by every famous person in the world—ahem—they’re big-budget manifestations of crippling insecurity.
It’s certainly worth noting the significance of the “Feeling Myself” release so close on the tail of Taylor Swift’s release of her “Bad Blood” music video.
Swift’s incessant promotion of “Bad Blood” in the lead-up to its Sunday night debut bordered on maddening, with the star sharing photos on social media of all the celebrity friends of hers who would be making blink-and-miss-it appearances in the clip. This went on for so long and included so many seemingly random people, that honestly I kept refreshing Swift’s Instagram account to see what role I’d be playing in “Bad Blood.” I had to have been the only person left not cast.
When the “Bad Blood” video finally premiered, it was as the much-ballyhooed kickoff to Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards on ABC. After it finished airing—on network television, to boot—Swift took the stage to soak in the applause for the clip, a sort of sci-fi orgy of starlets in leather catsuits channeling The Matrix. It was weird—but not exactly the good weird that is “Feeling Myself.”
There’s certainly something to be said, in an age when MTV has long since given up on playing music videos and most clips debut with little fanfare or recognition, Swift successfully worked her teeny tuchus off promoting and drumming up interest in “Bad Blood.” I think there’s something more interesting to be said about the Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj garnering just as much attention for a video they dropped with no promotion on a streaming service most of us can’t access.
People like “Feeling Myself” not because they’ve been convinced to by an assault of pre-release promotion, but because it’s really damn good.
“Feeling Myself” allows Beyoncé and Minaj’s talent to speak for itself, and in turn is a much more engaging and entertaining video than any of those more over-the-top productions. As a showcase for two of the founding partners in Tidal, it’s a reminder, too, of maybe what the more noble mission of the endeavor was in the first place: to foster more of this kind of wacky, meticulous brilliance.