As a recent Tidal subscriber*, and an avid fan of both Drake and Rihanna, I was eagerly anticipating the release of not one, but two videos for Rihanna’s recent single “Work” featuring Drake.
Some people may be sick of the song already, but the videos actually heightened my obsession; I can’t count how many times I’ve watched them now. I was discussing my opinion on them with a friend and realized I had been unconsciously looking at them with a critical eye (thank you film studies).
She asked me a simple question: which do you like better?
When I first watch the two videos, the latter was easily my favorite. It was more suited to my visual style, it featured charming personal interactions between Rih and Drake, and the colors were beautiful.
Maybe after my third viewing of the videos (always one right after another, as they’re set up to be viewed), I realized there was so much more depth to the initial video.
Firstly, Rihanna is surrounded thickly by representation of her Caribbean culture and heritage. Everything around her, her clothes, the food, the dancing, embraces and loves the place where she grew up. That representation of her community is important, and that community aspect is also embraced in the people Rihanna is surrounded by, emphasized in one of my favorite shots near the end of the video when the crowd is shown in slow motion doing a simultaneous dance move.
Second, Rih is the star of the video (as she should be) and, concurrently, Drake is not. We see him sparsely before his actual verse, presumably chilling on that couch at the back of the club while Rihanna does her thing. When he and Rihanna occupy the same space, she seems to have the control, exhibiting her far superior dance skills while Drake just seems happy to be included. Lastly, and most importantly, the final shot of the video is not Rihanna dancing on Drake, but rather her dancing and staring at her own reflection in the mirror on the wall.
The second video is pretty. Rihanna has her long, straight hair from her ‘Umbrella’ days, Drake and Rihanna are clearly having fun with each other, but the camera still heavily focuses on their relationship. It’s a nice pair for the first video; you can almost imagine Rihanna and Drake leaving that party to have these interactions. It pales in comparison, however, to the bold, Caribbean, Rihanna-centered dance party that comprises the first video.
*Don’t worry, I’m cancelling Tidal after my 30-day-trial, I just couldn’t put off listening to The Life of Pablo anymore, which deserves its own blog post, but alas.