With both Cardi B and CupcakKe releasing music video heavily inspired by the film in the past 36 hours, we've suddenly realized a new truth: Kill Bill is the new Scarface. At least when it comes to music video inspiration. Ever since its release 35 years ago, Brian De Palma's Miami–set gangster film has provided direct inspiration for an uncountable number of (mostly male-starring) music videos. Everyone from Future to Drake to Zayn has decided the world is his and referenced the film. Though the first volume of the film hasn't quite reached its 15th anniversary, Kill Bill seems to be quickly catching up. Although in its case, it's female musicians and rappers driving the trending.
That's no surprise; Uma Thurman's The Bride is a take-no-prisoners assassin out to exact revenge on the man who wronged her and the women who enabled him. It's a thematic and attitudinal mirror of so much pop music, it's hardly a wonder why she's so frequently referenced in music clips. It doesn't hurt that the film and Thurman are both stylistically striking. Besides, appropriation of Kill Bill imagery seems fitting, considering that the film, like much of Tarantino's work, is an appropriation of divergent imagery and inspiration from elsewhere. Which also makes tracking down Kill Bill inspiration sort of hard. Maybe an artist is giving a slight nod to Kill Bill with a shot or a bit of symbolism in their music video, or maybe they're just paying homage to the same thing Tarantino was paying homage too in the first place. Take Post Malone's "Rockstar" clip, which many compared to Kill Bill, but likely has more in common with Japanese film Lady Snowblood. Other times, music videos take their cues from Tarantino acolytes. Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" was a little more Robert Rodriguez (think Sin City and Planet Terror) than Tarantino.
Starting with the two most recent examples and going back to the woman who (unsurprisingly) was the first to reference the film, here's a brief history of the most obvious Kill Bill influences in music video history.
Cardi B - "Be Careful" (2018)
Kill Bill comes in two volumes, but there are about half a dozen different movies packed into its 247-minute running time. Or at least half a dozen different genres of film. Cardi B's "Be Careful" entered the pantheon of "warning a trifling man" classics on its release ahead of her debut album Invasion of Privacy, and for the just-released visual she homed in on the spagehtti Western influences in Kill Bill and staged both a wedding and a funeral inspired by the film's own tragic wedding scene. It even features the same church: the Sanctuary Adventist Church in Lancaster, California (fun fact: It also appeared in Britney Spears' cinematic classic Crossroads).
CupcakKe - "Quiz" (2018)
It's sort of amazing that two female rappers can release two music videos inspired by the same film within a day of each other, and yet, those music videos don't actually look anything alike (say what you want about Scarface-cribbing clips, but those almost always look exactly alike). CupcakKe, the gleefully filthy-mouthed Chicago-based independent rapper, mashes up Kill Bill's motorcycle scene (and The Bride's iconic yellow and black motosuit) with arcade fighting games for her braggadocious attitude track "Quiz."
Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora - "Black Widow" (2014)
Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora! Name a more iconic duo! Okay, just kidding, every other duo mentioned on this list is more iconic. In any event, Azalea laid out her formula for success with "Fancy": Get a Brit singer to do the hook, and remake a classic movie for the music video. Here, she swapped out Ora for Charli XCX, and Kill Bill for Clueless. They even recruited actual Kill Bill star Michael Madsen to costar and make it obvious.
Brown Eyed Girls - "KILL BILL" (2013)
No subtlety in inspiration here either. The boundary-pushing K-pop girl group's song is called "KILL BILL" and the seven-and-a-half-minute music video basically re-creates the film.
Lady Gaga ft. Beyoncé - "Telephone" (2010)
Though the plot is different, the various Tarantino-inspired stylistic flourishes in the Jonas Åkerlund–directed video for this iconic duo are aplenty. No need to guess either, as the pair borrowed Kill Bill's iconic "Pussy Wagon" from Tarantino.
Missy Elliott - "I'm Really Hot"
If there's one thing you should know about music video history, it's that Missy Elliott almost always does it first. This trend is no exception. Within a year of Kill Bill Vol. 1's premiere, Missy asked "Beep! Beep! Who's got the key to the Pussy Wagon?" and recruited the car for a cameo.
In any event, kind of makes you wonder why Tarantino has never gotten into the music-video-directing game himself.