Our favorite artists are dying right before our eyes. In one music video after another, singers, rappers and musicians are being shot, decapitated, crushed, drowned and bludgeoned.
Why are pop stars having themselves mock-executed on camera with numbing regularity? Are they looking for sympathy, trying to shock us, or do they have something profound to say?
Check out these raconteurs of ultra-violence:
“Find Your Love” by Drake
What a great single! This 808s & Heartbreak-influenced mid-tempo jam was shot on the “gully” side of Kingston, Jamaica. Drake gets caught up in a torrid love affair with bombshell Maliah Michel and a set-up with her boyfriend, local kingpin Mavado. Unfortunately for Drake, stone-faced Michel pulls the gun on him, using the rapper for target practice. Ouch!
“Russian Roulette” by Rihanna
The reggae mademoiselle turned to the shadows on her last effort, Rated R. A dish best served cold, the Bajan ice princess sings about the game of love and getting hurt in the process–tell us about it! She is run over by a car in the woods, shot at under water and then sprayed by ammunition through the heart in the interrogation room. Yikes!
“Window Seat” by Erykah Badu.
The ethereal and off-beat Queen of Neo-Soul returned with a vengeance with this homage to iconic president John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Shot guerrilla style, Madame Badu walks through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, stripping down to her birthday suit. Then she is shot in the head and blue blood spurts out onto the pavement, spelling the word “groupthink” beside the grassy knoll. I admire Badu’s nerve, but I can’t help but think the video was done mostly to unnerve us.
“99 Problems” by Jay-Z
The Bed-Stuy rapper and sometime street prophet made us turn up our stereos and blast this unforgettable classic. The Mark Romanek-directed clip shows the Roc-A-Fella mogul getting ripped by a barrage of bullets sent by unseen assailants. The rapper noted that the shooting was analogous to the death of his moniker “Jay-Z,” and was a “rebirth” of Shawn Carter. Apparently, H.O.V.A. rose from the phoenix’s ashes with his acclaimed “The Blueprint 3,” but I’d have to assume he has more freemen than Pac-Man.
“Flashing Lights” by Kanye West
The Chi-town wunderkind of hip-hop clobbered ghetto blasters everywhere with this Grandmaster Flash-esque disco-rap, and its accompanying video did the same to our eyes. It was visually epic: hot Playboy model in sexy lingerie–check! A pyre of burning clothes–check! Kanye West, tied-up in the trunk of a car, screaming for help until his lungs give out–check? And it gets worse as Rita G, the sexy sadist, gives him a farewell kiss before stabbing the hip-hop iconoclast with a shovel over and over again.
“It’s My Life” by No Doubt
This delicious, Golden Age Hollywood red carpet affair directed by pop culture surrealist David LaChapelle was genius. However, when you aren’t paying attention to the pretty colors, the designer threads or Gwen’s MGM femme fatale shtick, its quite scary. In the four minute clip, we see Stefani as the blushing black widow picking off the boys one-by-one: lacing a plate of dinner with rat poison, running a victim over and tossing a vintage hairdryer into a bathtub with the victim inside. But what’s a story without a happy ending? The clip ends with the boys laughing at Gwen Stefani from the afterlife as she is thrown into a gas chamber.
“Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga
The neo-cosmopolitan duchess of electro-pop scored big with this chart topper and the eight-minute video was a crowning achievement! Pushed over the ledge of a veranda by True Blood actor Alexander Skarsgård, she falls to what should have been her death but instead, falls out of fame. Luckily, her love of kooky fashion broke the star’s fall. Unfortunately for him, it meant keeling over after she sprinkles a little poison in his morning tea.