They Got It Right: 10 Songs About Love That Were Made Into Beautiful Videos
Have you experienced this: you like a song only to like it less after seeing a disappointing video? On the flip side, have you loved a song only after seeing the amazing video that came from it? I often wonder why so many artists, especially the ones who have the clout, don’t exercise their right to create complementary videos that take their songs to the next level. Just like a great film, a four-minute video can really enhance the meaning and story of a song. And we know that vision is even more critical to a song that wants to communicate heartbreak, longing, and romance. These videos did just justice to their songs of origin by integrating narratives, scenes, and landscapes to create a story. In a sea of videos shot on soundstages, these stand out amongst the pack. Do you agree with my selections? Sound off in the comments section.
Lauryn Hill – Turn Your Lights Down Low
Director: Francis Lawrence
Hands down, this is the most perfect video I’ve seen in terms of how it heightened my appreciation for the song. Lauryn Hill’s reinterpretation of the original song by Bob Marley takes us to a beautiful and lush Jamaica. The colors, Rohan on a motorcyle, the close-ups of Lauryn pinning her hair, the intimate house party, and the next morning at the beach equals a perfect look at a beautiful 24 hours in a Caribbean town. Although the relationship with Rohan is not the focal point of the video, it is a beautiful backdrop. Who could forget them walking into the house party in utter darkness?
You Don’t Know My Name – Alicia Keys
Director: Chris Robinson
A beautiful Alicia Keys and handsome Mos Def tell this Harlem story of unrequited love that is captured so beautifully in scenes at a retro-chic diner, house party, and piano room. Chris Robinson really captures an urban Harlem mood in this video that seems to take place right at the intersection of winter and spring. By the end of this video, we feel for Alicia and her yearning for love.
Janet Jackson – Come Back To Me
Director: Dominic Sena
Very rarely were videos shot overseas, and Paris no less, in the early 1990s. The cost of this video must’ve been sky high but it was well worth it. This song about a lost love is amplified by scenes of the Parisian landscape including The Eiffel Tower. Janet walks through the city known for love as she is haunted by the memories of her lost lover. The video opens up at the Paris train station in the early morning and ends with the scene of her lover getting on a train at nightfall. #Classic.
You Got Me – The Roots
What it lacks in narrative, it makes up in cinematic mood. Although you really can’t tell what is going on in this ambiguous video, the heaviness of Black Thought’s heart is so beautifully conveyed. We follow The Roots crew leader as he roams the streets of a deserted Brooklyn, as the only person alive amongst the “dead” so to speak, and that simple scene helps us focus on the tragic lyrics about the disintegration of a relationship. Not to mention, the contrasting juxtaposition of an orange-clad Erykah Badu singing in the drab apartment lobby is just beautiful.
Gnarles Barkley – Whose Going To Save My Soul
Director: Chris Milk
I only recently saw this video but it has to be one of the most out-there interpretations I’ve ever seen of a break-up story. As oddly as it is executed with an animated heart and a discussion between a couple about breaking up, I walked away with a heavy heart. When do you see a man speak so directly about how a break-up affects him? Needless to say, this video is superior just for being able to really get across the way a man hurts after losing love.
Erykah Badu – Next Lifetime
It’s been some time since we’ve actually been able to understand one of Erykah Badu’s videos without her breaking it down for us. Before the glitter, bodily fluids, or her running around naked in the street, Badu gave us “Next Lifetime.” Set in a pre colonized Africa, America during the Civil Rights era and Africa in the future, we watched as Erykah battled her undeniable attraction for a man, despite being in a relationship with another. Not only was the song relatable, the impeccable visuals complemented the message to a tee.
I’m Leaving (Epiphany) – Chrisete Michele
It’s a beautiful cold night in the city and also inside Chrisete Michele’s apartment as she contemplates leaving her boyfriend, played by Drake. If you really pay attention you can see how the video goes from scenes of Michele singing on the ledge of her apartment by night, and by morning, she’s cloaked in warm light as she sings on the New York rooftop of her apartment. Get it? She had an epiphany.
I Want You – Common
Director: Kerry Washington
This is the kind of video that amplifies Common’s sex symbol status. Kerry Washington directs this video where an old flame obsesses over her past as her ex tries to move forward in his new life without her and with new girl Alicia Keys. It’s a very luscious video with a very shiny veneer, complete with celebrity appearances from Kanyeezy and Serena Williams. It’s the lustrous veneer of Common’s high life juxtaposed with Kerry Washington’s seemingly sloppy character which really makes this work.
Rain On Me – Ashanti
Director: Hype Williams
On a much sadder and somber note, Ashanti’s song “Rain On Me” took it to the depths of relationship woes with a storyline about domestic abuse. The rain was consistent through this beautiful video which showed many franctic scenes between Ashanti and her abusive lover, played by the very appetizing Lorenz Tate. The whole video was doused in blue light and really managed to communicate the desperate pleas of a woman wanting
Mya – Fallen
By now, you can already tell I appreciate videos that incorporate city landscapes. For me, Mya’s video is successful because it incorporates New York City. This is another song that deals with infatuation from a distance. Mya follows the object of her desire all over the city – we even get some footage inside the subways – and into his apartment. She’s on stalker status but she makes stalking look sultry and romantic at the same time in this video. It’s a vision gone right.
Bonus Track: Halfcrazy by Music Soulchild
How did I forgot to include this video on the original list?? Thanks to the commenters of this story, I was quickly alerted to my faux pas. This Musiq video is one of the best vids of the neo-soul era. It has a great plotline, has great visuals and each scene is packed with amazing colors.