Black & White

by Kiko Matsing

After watching the hot mess of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, I had to clean my visual palette with some of these crisp, tightly constructed videos from the true mavens of pop.

Michael and Janet Jackson: Scream

I love the futuristic Japanese look of this video, the mix of Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey) and anime. There are so many visual free associations without the feeling of decadent, sensory overload of a Lady Gaga video. There’s a sly reference, for exmple, to the history of contemporary art at 1:55, when Andy Warhol’s image (pop art) morphs into a Jackson Pollock painting (abstract expressionism) and then into a René Magritte (surrealism) in successive regressions.

Madonna: Human Nature

Unlike other Madonna videos that portray sexual deviance for shock, there’s surprising levity here in the treatment of leather fetish BDSM. There is no dragging ennui like in Justify My Love, just cheeky fun. The choreography is also impeccable–evoking the tension, snap, and release of latex.

Beyoncé: Single Ladies

Now, talk about a tightly constructed video! Can’t get my eyes off those shimmering thighs. ‘Nuff said.

Michael Jackson: In the Closet (w/ Naomi Campbell)

Naomi Campbell in simple white, with downcast eyes, has more prurient sex conveyed here than in any of Lady Gaga’s overwrought contortions.