Normani’s “Motivation” Pays Tribute To 2000s R&B Classics, From Beyoncé to Ciara

A guide to the early aughts references in Normani’s new video for “Motivation.”

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If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now: Normani is coming for every pop star in town. Her solo single, “Motivation,” was just released today.

The former Fifth Harmony member has released some singles in the past, but they’ve all been duets, like “Love Lies” with Khalid and “Slow Down” with Calvin Harris. “Motivation” is all her.

Fans are ecstatic online, and it seems like every celebrity, from Janet Mock to Zendaya, is giving Normani the co-sign as well.

Co-written by Ariana Grande (as well as Max Martin, Ilya Salmanzadeh, and Savan Kotecha) “Motivation”—and its accompanying video—nods to some of the late ’90s and early aughts R&B hits that still get radio play today. Normani pays homage to Beyoncé, J.Lo, and Ciara. There’s a little bit of Britney, a little Ashanti, and even a touch of Omarion.

The music video starts with a child version of Normani watching 106 & Park, the music video countdown show that ran on BET from 2000 to 2014, and then shows grown-up Normani recreating scenes from some classic videos from the last two decades.

It’s clear she did her homework, and some references are more subtle than others, but let’s break down the major references.

“Crazy In Love” by Beyoncé


Normani just proved she is the natural successor to Beyoncé by doing some strut-choreo in a white tank and ripped denim à la Queen Bey asking Jay-Z if he’s ready in the beginning of “Crazy In Love.”

Beyonce in “Crazy In Love.”

“Gimme Dat” by Ciara

Performing while glistening in the rain is a trope seen towards the end of “Crazy In Love” (and technically, it’s water spewing from a fire hydrant in that one), but it is Ciara‘s “Gimme Dat” which comes to mind first after taking a glance at this image of Normani. It’s a little “Rain on Me” by Ashanti, as well.

Ciara in “Gimme Dat.”

“Dilemma” by Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland

Thematically, Normani’s song has nothing in common with “Dilemma” which is ostensibly about cheating on your significant other. But the visual aesthetic of two lovers dancing all close in the middle of the street in L.A. is very similar.

Nelly and Kelly.

“Touch” by Omarion

The dance battle from “My Way” by Usher and dancing-in-the-streets scenes from Omarion’s “Touch” serve as clear inspiration for some of Normani’s moves in this part of “Motivation.”


“I’m Real” by Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule and “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears

Gymnastics tumbling? Dance battle on the basketball court? Bucket hats? Crop tops and tracksuit bottoms? This scene is an amalgamation of “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears and “I’m Real” by Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule.

Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule in “I’m Real.”

Britney Spears in “…Baby One More Time.”

See, this video really does have your faves all over it, and that’s a good thing.

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