By Michael Griffith
We’d like to feel Exotic. We really would. But Priyanka Chopra’s follow-up to In My City makes us feel like we’re in a record label conference room, politely asking JLo’s people how to make a pre-post-ethnic GLOBAL DANCE SMASH. Which makes us feel pretty conventional. Like the song itself, the video is so strictly modeled on precursors that it is ensured a degree of derivative success. The green-screen plasticity of In My City has given way to a Real Music Video Beach, Smoky Eyes and what the Daily Mail would surely call Barely There Fashion. On the surface (and what else is there?), the vid is a passable imitation. We are not in the mood to ask for anything more but surely the global entertainment industry does.
Has Piggy been swindled? It’s one thing to kowtow, like Shakira, to transcultural tastes, another thing to pay Pitbull to play dress-up with you. In most of their interactions, the two don’t know what to do with each other. Priyanka paws over-expressively at Pitbull’s lapel (“Tumko jo dekha maine / Toh maine ye jaan liya hai / Pardesi babu ne / Iss desi dil ko maan liya hai”), a good girl gone ever-so-slightly less good, while he looks bemused. Then confused. Fuck man, shouldn’t she just ignore me and, like, pose? Because: “I’m like Bon Jovi I’m wanted / Dead or alive, and y’all better get with it / And in the music game I’m more dead than alive.”
But the daisy (we think Pitbull means desi) girl has other ideas. She may be imitating JLo in all the essentials, but she’s determined to please her expectant daisy audience. It’s the tightrope all Bollywood women walk, squared. I’m sexy, but nice. Nice, but sexy. The problem is, you can’t always have it both ways in a three minute clip. Nice-girl personalities won’t sell a GLOBAL DANCE SMASH. Sharp, badass performances will.
And the performance is fractured. The video’s director has chosen to show us Priyanka’s moments of uncertainty, the grinding transitions between Hollywood and Bollywood modes, exposing indeterminate edges that have no place in pop. We never thought we’d say this, but Priyanka needs to act less. Dance more. And fire her production team.
So while we’ll likely play Ex-ah-tick on loop for the next three days, we’ve gone from boredom to confusion to disappointment. Can’t Priyanka just sell out—all the way out? Like they do in Hollywood? Why go by half-measures when you’re already in a basque, on a beach and standing next to Pitbull?
Listen to us, Priyanka. Don’t smile. Pretend you hate the camera. And remember: you’re paying people to give you a GLOBAL DANCE SMASH, the least you can do is give yourself value for money.