We stan a thoughtful, respectful queen-in-training — and that’s exactly what Normani is, as evidenced by the release of the video for her debut solo track “Motivation.” The clip is an early 2000s-set homage to those that have come before her and proves she’s the up-and-coming gay icon we deserve. In fact, as I write this, I’m also on my hands and knees with a magnifying glass looking to retrieve my already-thin edges — they were still recuperating from Beyoncé’s The Gift.
And it’s funny we mentioned the Queen, because it’s clear that Normani is following in Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter’s footsteps like all of the new pop girls with R&B essence should.
The video starts with an ode to the legendary 106 & Park — which was BET’s TRL but Blacker and better — as a pre-stardom Normani watches the music video countdown show in her mom’s living room. But when she realises that it’s her track that’s made it to the no. 1 spot, we enter a dreamscape in which the former Fifth Harmony member unleashes a bevy of “Brown Skin Girl” excellence.
The nods in the video to the women and other musicians that have paved the way for her are aplenty, many of them directly referencing the debut albums and songs of her pop diva inspirations. There’s her strutting down the street in a cropped white tank a la Beyoncé’s own debut “Crazy In Love.” She gives us Ciara “Oh” vibes with some “I’m Real” from J Lo and Ja Rule and a dash Christina Aguilera’s “Can't Hold Us Down.” Then there’s a nod to Omarion’s “Touch.”
There’s also a scene that involves a basketball ricocheting off her ass, and when I tell you I screamed, I mean it. Ugh, her mind! The makings of a gay icon.
As for the song itself, it’s co-written with Ariana Grande, Max Martin, and Savan Kotecha, so like, we should’ve known it was going to be everything. Maybe.
Still, I haven’t been this excited by an artist's debut since… Fantasia broke her heel during the finale of her season of American Idol. But we’ve seen the girls make a splash just to devolve into the abyss of nothingness. Here’s to hoping Normani keeps her foot on our necks!