Beyoncé - "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." Directed by Jake Nava
With 15 million views and counting on YouTube (and that's just for the officially uploaded version), Beyonce's video is a bona fide sensation that speaks for itself. Beyonce is hot, the doppleganger wing dancers are hot, but the sexiest thing about this video is the camerawork and lighting design, combining to create what can be termed "music video-as-sculpture." Maybe only a cinephile can find the clip's whip-zooms (1:07!) and sudden shifts to blinding white more arousing than Beyonce slapping her own ass. On the other hand, it's hard to think of a video that better celebrates (rather than cheaply exploits) the beauty of the female form in motion (the invisible stair steps at 2:22 hasn't failed after multiple viewings to blow my mind for suggesting further unexpected dimensions of contouring choreography). With the emphatic shoulder shrugs and stop sign stiffarms, it's feminine but fierce, part mating dance, part martial arts.
Apparently this 21st century video dance craze isn't wholly original, but inspired at least in part by a Bob Fosse routine documented in this video of a performance on the Ed Sullivan Show featuring the irrepressibly limber Gwen Verdon:
Seeing this, one could be even more impressed by the Beyonce video for referencing dance history, but somehow for me it stole some of the feeling of originality from the piece. Not sure how one discerns between homage and plagiarism (and this has fomented quite a debate on YouTube) but if anything it reinforces the feeling that the lighting and camerawork is what's truly unique about the video. I'm also left wanting to do a mashup of the two for comparative purposes. Too late, someone's beaten me to it: