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May. 12 2010 - 6:32 am | 781 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Drake dies for love in his new ‘Find Your Love’ video. Is it worth it?

Remember when music videos were fun? Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield.” Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Sure Benatar was kicked out by her folks, turned to something resembling prostitution, and threw a drink in a sleazeball’s face, while Jackson foolishly interceded in gang warfare, but did anyone think for a second that either scenario would actually end in bloodshed.

When did it all go so dark? Six years ago, Britney Spears slit her wrist and flatlined in her “Everytime” video, which I recall more vividly than the song (though the single, listened to all this time later, is better than I remembered). Two years later, the war-themed clip for Kasabian’s beyond-brilliant “Empire” single – punctuated by explosions, gruesome images of blood and corpses, a woman blowing on a dandelion, and breakfast being served on the battlefield (symbolism overload!) – began with a young lad being mortally wounded and ended with the lead singer taking a fatal bullet. And more recently, genocide was graphically used as an apparent visual metaphor for racial profiling in M.I.A.’s “Born Free” — so graphically that the clip was banned from YouTube.

Are these artists making statements or just looking for attention? I’d say a little of both, but Drake, the popular Canadian rapper, is one artist who doesn’t need to strain to get attention. He has yet to release his debut album, Thank Me Later (due June 15), and he’s already charted more than a dozen songs (either as a lead or guest artist) on Billboard’s Hot 100. With his Kanye West-produced latest single, “Find Your Love,” the rapper is not reinventing the wheel, just singing a color-by-numbers R&B ballad. So just in case that’s not enough to grab our attention, the accompanying video is a six-minute mini-noir, complete with femme fatale, menacing bad guys and a denouement that finds Drake tied to a chair taking it — a gunshot, actually three of them — from behind.

Fade to black.

Is that entertainment? And what’s the message here? Find your love — in this case, some dime-a-dozen beauty with a great ass – even if you have to die brutally as a result? As someone who generally stays away from violent movies — in the process of moving me profoundly, The Hurt Locker nearly gave me a heart attack — this stuff is not exactly up my alley. At least Lady Gaga keeps her death scenes comical. While I’m glad to see videos move away from a barrage of colorful, unrelated images and back to real storytelling, I’m not sure why the artists and directors feel the need to copy the blood-and-gore formula of Hollywood blockbusters. Do videos need to come with MPAA ratings?

Michael Jackson made perhaps the most famous videos of all time, clips that are still wildly popular today, and I don’t recall ever seeing a single dead body in any of them. Unless, of course, you count those dancing skeletons in “Thriller”!


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