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How Dua Lipa’s “Physical” Video Pays Homage to Beyoncé and Daft Punk

A little "Say My Name." A little "Around the World."


Dua Lipa has made no secret that she’s drawing inspiration from the past. Her upcoming album is titled Future Nostalgia, after all, and some of her recent wardrobe choices look like they were chicly up-cycled from a Delia’s catalog.

So it was perhaps inevitable that one of Ms. Lipa’s music videos from this album cycle would in some way reference the golden days of TRL. Her latest offering, “Physical”, does just that. It’s chock full of late ’90s and early ’00s cliches, but puts a new twist on them, saving the video from being an uninspired stream of first thought references (see: Charli’s “1999” video).

As any viewer of MTV’s Making The Video knows, quite often a pop music video from that era’s entire concept could be as simple as something like, “Ok, so you’re going to start out in the blue room wearing blue clothes, and then, later, we’re going to twist it up and you’ll be in the red room wearing red clothes. They’ll never see it coming!”

Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” is one of the finest examples of the trend. Beyoncé and her bandmates each start off in their respective color-coded rooms before the video uses another well-worn trope of the time: the magically moving set (which we’ll circle back to).

Christina Aguliera’s underrated “Come on Over” also stands out as a defining use of the color coordinated trope.

And Blaque’s “Bring It All To Me” puts a futuristic spin on the idea.

Over in Lipa’s native England, pop acts like Girls Aloud were doing it as well.

There are likely dozens of other examples out there, but the point stands: coordinating your outfits to the walls of your room was a major component of turn-of-the-century music video vocabulary.

That trend’s only rival? The aforementioned magically moving set. TRL-era directors were using all sorts of camera tricks and contraptions: rooms that literally rotated (as seen in videos from ‘NSYNC and Dream), entire walls moved by dollies, and turntables and treadmills being built into the floor.

Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” was the prime example.

But numerous videos from Michel Gondry play with the dynamic in unique ways. Most notably the set in Daft Punk’s “Around The World,” doesn’t actually move, but the choreography and camera work is meant to make it look like it’s spinning like a record.

Which brings us back to Lipa’s latest. Shot in what seems to be an expansive warehouse or soundstage, the video depicts the 24-year-old English singer traveling through different color-specific zones, her own outfit changing each time. She winds up spinning on a turntable with her lover, and then it all explodes with dancers from each of the separate color zones meeting in the center for some very “Around The World”-like choreography. It’s a literal kaleidoscope of late ’90s and early ’00s music video signifiers simmered down to their essence and built up into something new.

Related: Dua Lipa Cannot Believe the Internet Thinks She Photoshopped Her Lips in Baby Pictures

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