Childhood Issues and Excessive Paint Splatters: Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling”

 

Black Eyed Peas I Got A Feeling

 

We start out with some really skinny girls in short skirts walking down Hollywood Boulevard, so you know right off that this thing is going to be of the highest artistic integrity. Nothing says class like a bunch of possible tramps travelling in large groups.

We get a quick shot of Fergie in some sort of dressing room, where she is proving that she can indeed lift her leg over her head, even while wearing high heels. This is followed by shots of other people getting dressed for something that’s about to happen. Apparently it’s hot outside, because nobody’s wearing much of anything, with the basic couture theme being “just cover up the really naughty bits because if you get arrested we’re going to be late for the after party”.

Will.i.am starts out with the vocals, while he wanders around searching for something, probably looking for some additional lyrics beyond the two lines that he knows really, really well. We start seeing little snippets of neon paint dribbles here and there, a messiness that will prove to be an important plot device later on in the video.

We roll into a montage, with multiple shots of Fergie wearing only a g-string and a boa. She must really love that boa, considering how she’s rubbing it on her body with the determination of a dog chewing on a bone. I’m sure there’s an underlying message here, but it probably doesn’t involve innocence or good hygiene.

We have another montage with the various band members texting each other as they continue to prep for the party and stare into fancy mirrors, each of them obviously in love with their reflections and the pleasure of getting to wear outfits that the common people can’t afford. Meanwhile, lots of people that we don’t know are marching along the city sidewalks, equally in love with their appearances, but on a smaller budget. As a teaser, we get more examples of the mysterious neon paint splatters, although we can already sense that the payoff on this angle is not worth the investment.

One of the travelling hordes comes across Taboo, who is just floating in the air for no apparent reason or scientific explanation. He ignores them, and they ignore him, because this is Los Angeles (presumably, it’s not like we have subtitles) and people do unexplainable things every day in this town. (Scientology is very popular there. Need I say more?)

Okay, finally, we start seeing people do things with cars, driving them, getting out of them, posing beside them, rubbing up against the more expensive models in a wanton display of desire and lust. This is a much more realistic depiction of mobility in Los Angeles. People don’t walk anywhere, especially while wearing the stiletto heels that keep appearing in front of the camera out of nowhere, because the city has a footprint the size of Jupiter. (Let those New Yorkers be proud of walking everywhere and not owning a car. That’s easy to do when everything you need is just a block away.)

We finally get to our party destination, a house presumably owned by someone who has very tolerant neighbors because the music gets really loud as we swing into the chorus. The folks at this party are really happy and energetic, bouncing off the walls, making foundationless hand gestures that don’t appear rhythm-based, and laughing in a serial-killer manner. Clearly, these people are on something a little stronger than appetite suppressants.

Now it’s Fergie’s time to sing, so she struts around a bit as she does so, waving this weird feather-duster thing that’s really distracting. (She can afford any prop in the entire world, and she selects a house-cleaning implement? There are some deep, psychological issues at work here.) Then we have an important scene where she almost falls off a couch, while on the wall behind her is a giant target symbol with a shark coming out of it. I suppose that image means something to somebody. I doubt that the shark had any creative input.

We roll into another montage although, to be fair, this whole thing is really one big-ass montage. (We just have segments where we aren’t jumping around as much. This is probably where the editor stepped outside for a quick smoke.) We see more drinking and hyperactive dancing, spiced up with a brief shot of Fergie feeling up some female extra. (I bet that wasn’t in the extra’s contract. Or maybe it was. It wouldn’t surprise me if the BEPs had some disclaimer like this inserted in all legal paperwork: “There will be times when The Peas will want to do something you didn’t expect. Let them.”)

Next we have Fergie crammed in one of those Plexiglas-ball chairs on a chain (those things always bothered me, with the threat of the chain breaking and then you roll to your death), Fergie groping somebody else, and Fergie magically transported to the other side of the house. This girl gets around. But she still hasn’t put down that damn feather duster. (Was there an incident in her childhood involving the household staff? Who knows.)

We have a shot of two girls kissing, because hints of Sapphic pleasure are always a selling point when it comes to music videos, then we get a slo-mo shot of Fergie twirling her hair through the air. (Did she have dreams of being a prop-plane pilot that were never realized?) And then we have more shots of high-end foot-ware, because you’ve got to keep the female element interested in the video despite the objectification of women. This is Marketing 101.)

New development: Here comes some guy carrying a can of the day-glo paint that’s been dribbled all over town. (Dude, did it never cross your mind to put a lid on that thing? You’ve left a mess on the city streets that looks like My Little Pony had a digestive imbalance and then ran amuck.) Some of the folks at the party immediately start shoving their hands in the paint, all the way up to their wrists, making colorful pseudo gloves. (Because that’s the first thing YOU would do, right? “I don’t know you, but let me violate your liquids. Thanks!”)

Apparently the arm-baptism thing is a huge hit, and everyone else at the party gets a text to come join in the fun. The new arrivals are even more exuberant with the paint, smearing it on their faces and clothes and whatnot. Then somebody turns on a black light, thus enhancing the druggy appeal of the dripping latex, and this inspires everybody to break into the chorus of the song and pogo around the room with a vengeance. (This is what happens when Republican states cut education funding.)

This paint-enhanced revelry goes on for quite some time, so I’m guessing this scene was the biggest part of the video budget. Someone gets creative, and starts turning the black light off and on so it sort of looks like different scenes and they can get more footage out of it. But it’s still the same dance moves, same attention-whoring people, and same repeated lyrics regardless of the light status, making things a bit boring and drab. (This is what happens when Republican states completely eliminate arts funding because it’s not mentioned in The Bible.)

As we near the end of the video, the producers just start throwing in any random shot: people getting thrown in a pool (the paint is going to clog the filter, people), some klutzy woman taking cookies out of the oven and spilling them (she is not on the next guest list), people rolling off beds in their underwear (no idea), passed-out hookers in hallways (not judging, just an observation), and folks having performance issues in a bathroom (not even going to touch that).

Finally, the party’s over, and we see people wandering off into the night. One of the skinny models from the opening shot trips and busts her butt on the pavement. I think that was my favorite part, which probably means that I have my own childhood issues involving clumsiness and pain. Don’t we all?

And yes, the last time you see Fergie at the party, she’s still got that dang feather duster, clutching it like the Ark of the Covenant and Harrison Ford might show up at any moment…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 08/13/09, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

 

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