Some people prefer movies over music while others vice-versa. But, what happens when the cinematic world of action, mystery, comedy, and love meets with music? Isn’t that a delight? Over the years many musical artists have made references to movies either in their music or in their videos. We take a look at ten such music videos that have drawn inspiration from movies or pay homage to iconic films!
California Love – Tupac feat. Dr. Dre
Tupac’s West Coast anthem ‘California Love’ became an instant hit and MTV named it the ninth “greatest music video ever made” in 1999. Released in 1996, the ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’ inspired music video was directed by Hype Williams. The track also featured Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman. Recalling ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’, Williams even included the Thunderdome itself in the music video! The barbaric battles in the film were replaced with shots of Tupac and Dre dancing and rapping in the center of the Thunderdome structure.
Mad Max has inspired many rip-offs and homages, however, Tupac’s ‘California Love’ is unlike any other and one to always remember. It served visuals set in a dystopian nightmare landscape — set in 2095, featuring cameos from Chris Tucker and Tony Cox. The image of Shakur in spiked shoulder pads is still etched in the minds of many!
Thank u, next – Ariana grande
Ariana Grande paid homage to films like ’Mean Girls’, ‘Legally Blonde’, ‘Bring It On’ and ‘13 Going on 30’ by delivering an epic music video for her hit single ‘Thank u, Next’. Viewers can see Ariana make amazing references to these films, channel their storylines and also spot cameos from some of the movie’s stars! Here are some references she made –
Ariana dressed up as the queen bee, Regina George down from the Louis Vuitton purses to the silver initial necklace and long blonde hair. She even writes about her exes in the infamous Burn Book. Grande and her friends dress as the ‘The Plastics’ – the Mean Girls’ friend group, as they walk down the school hallway with Jonathan Bennett returning as high school heartthrob Aaron Samuels. Stefanie Drummond makes a cameo as a major Regina enthusiast and we also see Troye Sivan, YouTube stars Colleen Ballinger and Gabi DeMartino make an appearance. Grande’s former Victorious co-star, Elizabeth Gillies features as Cady Heron and Kris Jenner as Regina’s “cool mom” in the Mean Girls segment.
Ariana Grande and her longtime friend and ‘Victorious’ co-star Matt Bennett re-enacted a scene from the movie ’Bring It On’ where Torrance Shipman and Cliff Pantone face off in a friendly tooth-brushing competition before eventually dating. And obviously Grande and her pals channeled the cheerleaders’ squad – Toros and Clovers from the film.
In the segment of the 2004 film ‘13 Going on 30’, Ariana makes Jenna Rink’s (played by Jennifer Garner in the movie) look complete by ditching the ponytail and replacing it with shoulder-length bob hair and an adorable replica of the Barbie Dream House.
Jennifer Coolidge reprises her role as Elle Woods’ partner-in-crime Paulette as they revisit the “bend & snap” technique at a salon similar to the one in ‘Legally Blonde’. In this segment, just like Elle Wood brings her pup Bruiser along with her to the Harvard Law School, Ariana makes her debut with her own dog, Toulouse.
The Kill (Bury Me) – Thirty Seconds To Mars
Directed by Bartholomew Cubbins, The Kill (Bury Me) music video is a tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining based on the Stephen King novel. Throughout the video, Thirty Seconds To Mars makes many references to the movie such as the haunted room in the hotel (the number was changed from 237 to 6277).
One of the scenes based on the film ‘The Shining’ is – Drummer Shannon Leto entering Room 6277 and encountering the woman in the bathroom. The theme of duplicity and confrontation with oneself can be traced in the video when Matt Wachter is served drinks by a doppelganger and when Tomo Milicevic finds himself with a man in a bear suit.
Iggy Azalea – Fancy ft. Charli XCX
Iggy Azalea took on the role of Beverly Hills socialite Cher Horowitz in her ‘Fancy’ music video. It also featured Charli XCX who played Tai Frasier who fit right in as Cher/Iggy’s socially odd sidekick! This homage to the cult mid-90s film – ‘Clueless’ recreated key scenes from the movie.
Iggy dons the iconic yellow tartan as she channels her inner Cher Horowitz for the Clueless tribute. According to Time, the video was also shot in the same school as Clueless.
Rush, Rush – Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul’s ‘Rush, Rush’ music video is a tribute to the 1955 classic ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. It has a series of meticulous imitations that were actually duplicated shot-for-shot from the film.
The video features Paula Abdul as Judy, and a young ‘The Matrix’ star Keanu Reeves as Jim, the film’s iconic James Dean character.
ON – BTS
The world-famous KPOP septet BTS’ music video ‘ON’ is an almost six-minute video that makes several references to and is inspired by movies, Biblical motifs, and as well as TV series. It takes a cinematic approach that merges influences from ‘Game of Thrones’, and dystopian favorites like ‘Maze Runner’ and ‘Hunger Games’.
One of the many homages is to the film ‘Divergent’ as viewers see the members of the group and other survivors leave their homes and go beyond “the wall” to seek a better future.
One of the easiest tributes to catch on is to ‘The Maze Runner’ movies when Jungkook is running and the members gather around with other survivors to go beyond the wall. Interestingly, there is another subtle reference to this movie which involves a mark on Taehyung’s neck. It could be an indication of the virus in the movie called the ‘Flare’ that eventually turns them into a ‘Crank’ (a zombie).
At one point, Jungkook blows a conch in the video which is a reference to ‘The Lord of the Flies’ the characters use the conch to communicate with each other on an island and when to come together for a meeting.
In the video, Taehyung accompanies a young girl who is blindfolded and he eventually takes it off when it is safe for them to go beyond the wall. This is an homage to Netflix’s ‘Bird Box’.
At the end of the video, the group walks up a cliff referencing the Circle of Life from ‘The Lion King’.
Material Girl – Madonna
Madonna courageously attempted to pay homage to one of pop culture’s all-time icons – Marilyn Monroe in her music video ‘Material Girl’ and she did it with class!
She paid tribute to Monroe’s performance of ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ from the 1953 film ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. The video also guest-stars the ‘Dexter’ actor Keith Carradine as the pop star’s love interest.
Lost in Japan – Shawn Mendes, Zedd
Shawn Mendes’ ‘Lost in Japan’ music video pays homage to the 2003 classic Sofia Coppola film ‘Lost in Translation’ as he (Mendes) inhabits the role of Bill Murray’s sad-sack businessman Bob Harris. In this Zedd remix, Shawn brought in the ‘13 Reasons Why’ star Alisha Boe to play his pink-wigged Charlotte (Scarlett Johannson in the film).
The elevator scene, Mendes shooting the alcohol commercial, his shaving scene and Boe sitting by the windows of the hotel overlooking the city are all references to some of the memorable scenes in the movie. Zedd makes a brief cameo in the unforgettable karaoke bar scene where we see Shawn and Alisha bond. Shawn dons Harris’ famous bathrobe and if all this wasn’t enough to remind viewers of the movie even the title of the video seems to serve as a reference for ‘Lost in Translation’.
1999 – Charli XCX & Troye Sivan
Giving us a major 90s throwback, Charli XCX and Troye Sivan recreated scenes from three films from the 90s in their music video ‘1999’. Directed by Ryan Staake & Charli XCX, the video paid homage to some memorable moments in music, film, tech, and fashion.
Charli and Troye recreated the most iconic scenes from ‘Titanic’ as they took on the role of Rose and Jack respectively standing at the bow of the ship as the wind blew through their hair and they stared off the edge of the boat to the sea.
The duo also paid a tribute to the ‘1999’ film ‘The Matrix’ by donning the all-black latex and sunglasses just like Neo and Trinity in the movie as they dodge bullets in slow motion.
Charli transforms into Angela Hayes from the 1999 film ‘American Beauty’ by swimming in a pool of roses.
Wearing a beanie, Charli also briefly appears as one of the students from the 1999 horror ‘The Blair Witch Project’. In this segment, with frightened eyes, she fixes her gaze on the camera.
Antisocial – Ed Sheeran & Travis Scott
In the music video for Ed Sheeran and Travis Scott’s collaboration ‘Antisocial’ the duo embodied several characters from movies with numerous wigs on for the different segments. Some of the references made to movies are mentioned below:
Scott is seen playing the titular role of Edward Scissorhands from the 1990 movie as a dentist.
Ed Sheeran appears to be making a tribute to Jim Carrey’s ‘The Mask’ in the opening shot of the video.
Sheeran also pays tribute to the 1999 cult comedy ‘Office Space’ in a segment inspired by the movie.
Travis channels Matt Damon’s Mark Watney from the 2015 sci-fi ‘The Martian’.
Sheeran and Scott end the music video with an extended homage to the 1994 cult film ‘Pulp Fiction’.
These are only some of the many amazing movies that drew inspiration from movies and paid a tribute to them. There are yet many musical artists that have taken the roles of different characters and transformed themselves into iconic characters even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.