Queen of the world and pop songstress Rihanna released the music video for her single "Bitch Better Have My Money" at midnight last night, to celebrate the beginning of the impending long weekend and remind the world that even though she hasn't put out an album in almost three years, she's still one of the baddest bitches in pop.
This isn't just a fluffy, simple video. It took planning and smarts and a vision. Here are 7 things "Bitch Better Have My Money" does brilliantly:
There's a moment in the video that takes the insane kidnapping-and-booze party to a new level of danger. Near the end of the clip, we're introduced to the character (played by Mads Mikkelsen, of Casino Royale and Hannibal) who is "the bitch" she's mad at — the one this whole nonsense seems to be about. He is "the accountant."
This scene — with its comic book-style rendering of the accountant — sets up the whole song, and refers back to a real event from Rihanna's life.
In 2009, Rihanna was bankrupt. Despite having dropped 4 major world- wide smash releases and rising as a star, Rihanna was out of money. How was this possible? She had just gone on tour and bought a house in Los Angeles.
She blamed (dun dun dun) her accountant, Peter Gounis of Berdon LLP.
In 2012, she sued him for $35 million. Allegedly, according to The Hollywood Reporter, his firm had been taking up to 22% of her profit (far above the 5% industry standard), and he allegedly gave her ill-informed advice about when to purchase a home, and how much money her tour was making. The two settled out of court in 2014 for $10 million dollars.
But maybe they didn't settle everything.
Tom. Ford. Fall. 2015.
Creating a music video in 2015 is a totally different ball game than creating one in 1980. Not only are music videos less important to the way people perceive the song, but the role they play on the internet is one of propagation. What you want, in the streaming economy, is for your song to live far beyond the first three months of its release, so that you can continue to get paid for it. You want people to be reminded of your song at various moments, and return to it.
A great way to make sure that people are constantly remembering your song and wanting to listen to it is to make sure that it can spread virally. And nothing spreads quite like a good gif.
This is something that music video directors often neglect in favor of beautifully shot movie-type videos, or special effects, but it's a skill that "Bitch Better Have My Money" masters quickly and brilliantly. To make your video endlessly gif-able — and thus increase its spread — a couple of things have to happen: 1) you need a lot of costume changes so the gifs look different (check) and 2) the video needs to be shot in short segments, at least 6 seconds long, but with varying shots. This gives your video momentum, but it also allows for little moments like this to be made.
Those moments will spread.
Rihanna is queen of the #squad. She takes pictures at her friends' weddings, she goes on vacation with her girls. These days, she is rarely seen with a man — much less photographed with one. This video might be about ruining a man, but it's also about her bond with the ladies in her life. We see she and her posse smoking pot in hotel rooms and drinking on a boat.
Sure, there's a misandrist element — she's retaliating against a man who stole her money — but the video is also about women hanging out and having fun and trying to live. Taylor Swift attempted the same with her Bad Blood video, but Rihanna hasn't chosen superstars as her cohorts.
"Bitch Better Have My Money" has been in the Top 40 for the past 12 weeks, but it only peaked at number 19. Rihanna is known for topping charts and creating songs with Top 40 staying power, but a number 19 peak is weak for her. The benefit of releasing a video is that every single play (and there have already been well over a million) counts as a stream. Since 2013 Billboard has counted streaming toward the play count for charting.
A few weeks ago, Taylor Swift released the star-studded "Bad Blood" video, and it had the highest VEVO play count in 24 hours, ever. There were celebrities, things exploded, people wanted to watch. Those plays earned it a number one slot the next week; the track beat "See You Again," which had rested easily in the number one spot for six weeks before that. Rihanna doesn't have quite the reach of Taylor Swift, but this video will probably bump her into the top 10, at least.
Love a woman in the director's chair, making her vision a reality.
The long holiday weekend starts tomorrow, and let's face it: the Paul Walker tribute track "See You Again" is too depressing to listen to while drinking sangria and watching fireworks go off. What summer calls for —what summer needs — is a good banger, and "Bitch Better Have My Money is certainly that.
Releasing the video this week gives the song new life, but it also gives all of us #fourthgoals.
Happy fourth y'all.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.