Unless your Facebook feed is set to “only show text-post status updates and literally nothing else” mode, you probably have seen Drake’s latest music video, Hotline Bling, in either its full form or some kind of GIF. The uncomplicated yet confusing nature of the video causes it to stand out in the music video industry. The video is so weird it has drawn attention from presidential candidates, millennials and comedians alike. As people took the video and ran with it, producing copied versions, Halloween costumes and GIFs, seemingly against Drake’s will, Hotline Bling produced a social media craze. By reading between the lines, understanding the reasoning behind the video is made possible.
The video features long, simple shots of Drake dancing against different colored fluorescent backgrounds. There is no set choreographed dance, he is just doing his thing for the vast majority of the video. Often times, his moves are not even in sync with the music. If an artist without his status in the industry were to attempt selling a similar video, it would most likely fly completely under the radar. In fact, the only particularly special feature of the video is Drake as the focus. Every video shot is high-quality, crisp and eye-candy. His weird, uncoordinated dance moves are the central view of the camera in nearly every shot. It seems as though the video is attempting to sell Drake himself more than the song it is supposed to spotlight. For an artist of his stature though, selling himself is exactly what it takes to sell a song. Through the production of a video that causes viewers to question the sanity of Drake, he effectively sells the song. He is practically telling viewers to make GIFs of him. And make GIFs we did. Pizza making parodies, fruit Ninja parodies, bowling parodies, salsa dancing parodies; they are hilarious and they are only boosting his brand and his popularity. Even his outfits in the video inspired a new winter statement piece and Halloween costumes across the country. The red puffer jacket he sports completely sold out within a week of the video release. The “groutfit”, gray sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt, he also wears in the video was copied by numerous fans last month. More than a tribute to his style, the success of the music video and all the trends it initiated highlight his work as a self promoter.
To understand why the Hotline Bling video is so prominent in society right now, we need to delve into a little Drake history. Simply put, he is the king of hip hop right now because he and his marketing team are the best in the business. Think about the current status of social media and how Drake has permeated it. 0-100, YOLO, Back to Back; all seen across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and used in everyday conversation. All originated from the work of Drake. Drake probably drew inspiration from the success of his Energy video when developing one for Hotline Bling. It was another weird video but drew views. Hotline Bling has held a place on the Billboard Top 100 Music Videos now for 14 weeks, currently holding the number two ranking.
Drake’s team hit it out of the park with this one. This video is a personal statement and people ate it up, proving his current power in the business. He wears what he wants and dances how he likes but still manages to get work done. Ultimately, while we may think we are making fun of Drake, he is actually laughing with us and laughing all the way to the bank.