By Charlie Staindl
It’s a month now since Olivia Rodrigo’s latest smash hit ‘Good 4 U’ music video was released, and you bet we still have a lot we want to talk about. The teenage sensation who broke out with viral hit ‘Driver’s License’ – is now a certified star after dropping her debut album, containing what we believe to be a Jasper Productions-approved BANGER. At the time of writing, ‘Good 4 U’ has over 330 million plays on Spotify, and her accompanying video has over 112 million views on YouTube (which is almost as impressive as the 200 views my Tiktok got a couple of years ago).
But while you’re jamming away at this undisputed masterpiece, it’s worth taking a closer look at her music video. Special mention to the team behind her including Director Petra Collins, who’s worked with established stars such as Selena Gomez and Carly Rae Jepsen. Meanwhile, the iconic Devon Lee Carlson is tasked with styling Rodrigo and may be responsible for those gloves. With several key cultural references, some fascinating shots and some simply insane video production, this is a lesson in videography worth taking. So, here are 4 things we loved in Olivia Rodrigo’s latest music video.
First things first: the direction is astounding. Behind-the-scenes footage showed Collins explaining how she’s “obsessed with 90s (and 2000s) feminist horror movies”, and blends several references to such films throughout the video. While she does take heavy inspiration from ‘Jennifer’s Body’, ‘The Princess Diaries’ and others, she makes sure to carefully weave these into Olivia’s narrative, and create what she calls a “feminine rage”. In today’s MeToo era, the idea of feminine rage is more powerful than ever, and its validity as art is reflected in just how many people are resonating with an 18-year-old’s break up album.
The feeling of discomfort and even dread is clear from the inception of the video. It starts in near silence, which is bold for a music video, the only sound being the background buzz of a speaker turned on, interrupted by the noise of a roaring flame. It’s only after this that we see hear the song properly. As the video goes on, the background evolves into the set from a high school, to a grocery store, and finally a destroyed room. This helps hints at the growing rage and the horror elements Collins enjoys so much. Talk about a way to set the mood.
The set and costumes
As mentioned already, the settings of the video – school, store, bedroom – aren’t just nifty backgrounds to complement the feel of the video. They’re also fantastic visual elements, with the nostalgia and slight dread hitting hard. Those well-versed in 2000s teen flicks will recognise the cheerleader uniform from the movie ‘The Princess Diaries’, while some of the more conspiratorial readers may point to the character’s movie boyfriend name is Josh, the same name as Rodrigo’s ex Josh Bassett, rumoured inspiration for the song.
Just as iconic are the legendary black latex gloves she adopts while shopping and while at school. Not only do they hint at ‘Jennifer’s Body’, but they draw the eye to Rodrigo’s transformation in the video, and towards the gasoline she not-so-innocuously buys. Lastly of course, and how could we forget, the burning flooded bedroom. At this point, it’s normal to think “how can the room be both flooded and on fire?” We didn’t think it was possible either. And yet, that’s exactly what it is. Bonus points for getting those shots in one take (turns out burning down the set makes it hard to film re-shoots).
An underrated filming technique is the ability to work around your actress or actor’s weaknesses and complement what they can bring to a role. Even trickier is when that actress is a musician filming for a music video. Luckily, the Good 4 U video pulls it off, no doubt helped by Rodrigo’s performance history with High School Musical the Musical. In the video, Rodrigo doesn’t spend much time dancing, drawing on her natural acting and singing background instead. This works wonders for the video, and the dancers around her can showcase some amazing moves while making Rodrigo fit the unenthused-turned-raging High-schooler perfectly.
The close-ups of her face, as well as her begrudging body language, may seem more conservative than modern pop stars but it only improves the production of the video. It’s the kind of thing we aspire for here at Jasper Productions, and you can read about just how suited we are to your video and filming needs here.
The different tones and moods match the song
Editing is crucial to creating the feel of both song and video. In Good 4 U it’s one of the things that jumps out at you first, as we’re instantly treated to a healthy dose of… unsettled. The opening of the video focuses on the glare in her eyes and incorporates quick-cut shots of something burning and a pool of water on the floor. The framing of Ms Rodrigo through mirrors and phone displays just reinforce this feeling, like we’re not able to see who she truly is. Even the wide-pan of her with the other cheerleaders keeps its distance. It’s only when the video and song progress that we can see Olivia properly, culminating in the climax of her standing in front of a burning house. By slowly revealing Rodrigo, it keeps us just a liiiiiiittle bit on our toes.
That’s not even mentioning the final scene, where her eyes glow different colours while she dips underwater. Dark lake? Check. Subtle hints at being a hidden evil? Check. Campy but threatening 2000s feminist horror vibe? Check. Kudos to Ms Collins and her editing team for making this angry break-up song into a video freaky enough to give us the heebie-jeebies.
If you’re hoping to create a project as creative and outgoing as this 18 year old singer, get in touch and we can help make your dreams a reality!