There are a few ways to make a big music video. As the resurgence of the medium continues and the competition to cut through increases, visuals have become increasingly vital.
Some are thought-provoking and complex. Childish Gambino's "This Is America" set off a storm of evaluation and think pieces, obsessing over the imagery and the meaning. The juxtaposition of violence and revelry, the deliberate nature of every scene became a cultural statement about being black in America.
Some are nostalgic. Ariana Grande's teen movie tribute clip for "thank u, next", inserted the singer into classics like Legally Blonde and Mean Girls, updated for the internet age while being an event and instantly memeable. The video capitalized on an online obsession of reboots and gossip all at once, breaking records along the way.
Some are conceptual. Drake's "God's Plan" chronicled the Scorpion singer handing out cash, fulfilling dreams and helping out a community. Not only did it help craft a new narrative for an artist, but the viral nature of it all launched the song into a new stratosphere, making it own of the biggest of the year.
Those are all long but worthy roads to a view-count victory, but they still were no match for Maroon 5's "Girls Like You." The clip racked up over 1.4 billion views worldwide since its release in May, making it the most watched music video of 2018. There's no flashy concept, no action packed sequences, just one overwhelmingly important ingredient. Women.
At a time when the future is more female than ever, Adam Levine and the boys let the spotlight shine on their famous female friends. Not just two or three, but all the amazing women they could find. From Jennifer Lopez to Millie Bobby Brown to Phoebe Robinson to Ellen DeGeneres and beyond, rather than compete with women or make them a plot device, the band yields the floor quite literally to them. Not only is that a smart move creatively, but from a marketing perspective it's genius. It's a pyramid scheme of promotion, giving an army of powerful women a reason to share and in turn giving their fans a reason to click. By the time Cardi B, the biggest breakout star of the year hops on for her verse, it's already in the timeline of everyone on the planet.
"Girls Like You" is brilliant in its simplicity, and it has been rewarded as such.
Maroon 5 and the song are nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the upcoming GRAMMY Awards. You can check out the full list of nominees here.