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The New Normal: When Musicians Masquerade as Regular Folk

Tracing the trend of artists dressing like us mere mortals in music videos.

Some people wait for Halloween all year long, anticipating the rare occasion when it’s socially acceptable to dress exactly like your favorite artist. A friend of mine has been grooming his Ariana Grande wig for a few weeks now, and just yesterday received thigh-high white boots to match. Amongst the ghosts and ghouls, you can always expect your fair share of Lady Gagas, Britney Spears clones, and even Beyoncés. Outside of Halloween, musicians, on the other hand, love to dress like us mere mortals, whether it be for a performance, photo shoot, or most prevalently, a music video.


Seriously, have you ever realized how often artists dress up as people with relatively “normal” careers? It’s basically the oldest shtick in the history of music videos—and we're not talking about #normcore. These kinds of videos make you thankful that the artists took a shot at creativity rather than relying solely on carnal visuals and forgettable choreography (ahem, Jennifer Lopez’s “Booty”).

Whether you hate them or love them, watching a lot of these stars slip in and out of different careers is at the very least entertaining—and makes you think that they chose the right career. Like, could you imagine Miley Cyrus as an actual construction worker, outside of “Wrecking Ball?” God help us all. We picked out a few other examples to also over-analyze.


In the music video for “Toxic,” we see Britney Spears dressed as a futuristic flight attendant sporting an open-chested uniform that, with some work, could easily be worn by a cocktail waitress at her Las Vegas residency. Unlike those waitresses, Britney operates on a different plane of reality, taking breaks to call lovers on the plane’s phone, sashaying down the isle with her ass out, and whipping out her “Oops!…I Did It Again” face after spilling (and then massaging out) a drink on a customer’s lap. If that weren’t bad enough, she charges a traveler with her drink cart, forcing him into the bathroom and eventually into the mile-high club. I’m going to go ahead and say that the mixture of Spears’ overt sexual appetite with her erratic behavior IRL might make for an extremely awful flight attendant, who’d probably spend more time hooking up with guys like Sam Lutfi in the bathroom than feeding you warm cookies and milk.



There’s an overwhelming sense of sophistication and soulful maturity that comes to mind when thinking of Alicia Keys. One can’t help but attribute these qualities to a girl who graduated New York’s Performing Arts School as valedictorian at age 16, only to later win five Grammies for her critically applauded debut album. That said, intellectual and artistic brilliance do not necessarily cross over into every career. In “You Don’t Know My Name,” Keys assumes the role of a coffee house waitress who muddles things right off the bat by showing up late, much to the dissatisfaction of the holier-than-thou cashier and manager. It should be noted that the subway stop is DIRECTLY outside of the café, which definitely weakens any excuses for being tardy.

Keys hands a handsome male patron a menu, only to ask him what he wants to order immediately after. Give the man a minute, Alicia! She then stands directly in the way of bus boys and cooks, singing away and fantasizing about stealing the guy’s card out of the “Get a Free Lunch!” jar, giving him a call, and asking him to meet her at the park on Thursday, only after creepily telling him that she knows he comes in every Wednesday for lunch. Lastly, I feel like waitresses at this sort of establishment often wear nametags. Alicia, had you worn this essential component of your mandatory uniform, the guy would know your name.



In certain aspects, Taylor Swift would be perfect for the ballet world. Her body type fits the bill pretty closely, and her genuinely admirable work ethic compares well to the ridiculous level of commitment professional dancers put into their craft. Also, I know one shouldn’t generalize, but I’m going to reach into the massive load of stereotypes that I apply to life on a daily basis and say that a lot of male dancer’s are of the queer orientation. Boom: no more heartbreak for Tay Tay! Just kidding. She’d totally still find her way into a dramatic relationship with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s son or something.

That being said, the “Shake it Off” video blatantly suggests that Swift would be a pretty shitty dancer. She talks to herself about staying out too late and having nothing in her brain while she should be focusing on stretching out her limbs. She also tries out some pretty terrible moves, like hopping over the legs of her fellow ballerinas to reach the front of the stage and give one of the most annoying rendition of “jazz hands” I’ve ever seen. I know this video is all about being different and breaking the rules, but ballet isn’t really about that shit. Swift is going to have to pick from one of the other numerous personas she depicts instead, including “Hip Hop Artist” or “White Girl Looking Like a Fool.”


Of course, this particular video is heavily inspired by (read: directly copied from) the character Cher of Clueless, but I’m still going to go right ahead and think way too much about it. Let’s start off with the obvious scholastic issue Iggy Azalea brings to the student debate podium: her inexplicably awful, dirty-south accent and grammar. My high school English teacher would most definitely frown upon the confused uttering of baby talk like “Who dat, who dat?” rather than “Who’s that?” He also wouldn’t appreciate a student breaking out into dance in front of the class, speaking on the phone in the halls (reminder: I know this is from the movie), and showing more leg skin than Courtney Stodden on a hot day in July.


All of that aside, part of what make’s someone an awesome high school student is their willingness to indulge in youthful debauchery and revelry. Azalea fits in well with the other cool kids at the house party she attends (“I wish that I could be like YOU!” yells Echosmith). She’s seems to be pretty damn popular, so we’re going to go ahead and say that Azalea would make an awesome student in the social sense. Academically? Not so much. Fun fact: Iggy Azalea dropped out of high school.


Because Drake is basically successful at everything he does (singing, rapping, acting, etc.), I’d be willing to bet money that the star would do well no matter where he chooses to work. In “Started From the Bottom,” we see him get promoted from your standard, lowly sales clerk into a certified night manager. Just goes to show that no matter where you put him, Drake will be a boss. He’s well spoken, at least compared to his peers, and has a charm intense enough to melt him into the hearts of millions upon his musical breakout in 2009. That being said, he’d be an outstanding store worker bescause all the customers would love him. He’d also keep things fresh by having it rain confetti down the isles, making “the bottom,” aka when he was not ridiculously rich and famous, seem pretty alright.


In Hilary Duff’s latest musical venture, we see the once Disney starlet testing out her chops at working some sort of office job. While doing so, she seems to channel her inner Lizzie McGuire, because she is ridiculously careless and delusional. That weird cartoon version of her must really be getting to her head. Anyway, we see Duff avoiding work by reading magazines, fanaticizing about man candy running along beaches, and making martinis with an ounce of sugar during her lunch breaks. She also runs into a glass screen door, pours water all over everyone during an important-looking meeting, and almost accidentally serves her hamster in it’s exercise ball like a volleyball. This is a pretty clear warning that putting Hillary Duff in a boring office environment might cause her to resort to animal cruelty for entertainment.


That being said, Hilary Duff would totally be as horrible of a business lady (or whatever she’s supposed to be here) as she plays in the video. The girl has been making millions of dollars in “artistic” undertakings since she was a little kid, and probably never had to deal with paperwork or business presentations. Then again, she made an entire side-career out of singing, which she cannot do whatsoever, so maybe she could somehow swing it.


Speaking of swinging, that is not something butchers are supposed to do with their hanging meat (ew). But don’t tell that to Adam Levine in Maroon 5’s video for “Animals,” because he is clinically insane and might kill you.

Everything seems to start off fine, besides the pervy beard. Levine’s knife game is on point as he casually butchers up some sort of meat behind the counter. His real life wife/Namibian model Behati Prinsloo walks in to order something, and that’s when shit really hits the fan. Next thing you know, Levine is breaking into her house to photograph her sleeping, following her down the streets, and doing all sorts of things that anyone with a pulse would deem completely inappropriate for a customer-facing job. He rips his shirt off—because he is Adam Levine—covers himself in blood, hangs himself alongside cow carcasses, and, as mentioned, grabs right on to a once-heifer and starts swinging away. You’re going to be in trouble when Bureau of Sanitation shows up, mister!

Anyway, Adam Levine would go insane being a butcher in real life because there’s no way to sell out in that profession. Maybe going organic is “selling out” in butcher world—I really don’t know these things, but that wouldn’t land him a supermodel wife or a role on a major network’s televised talent show. Thus, this horrifying, stalker depiction is probably illustrates things pretty accurately.

Mathias Rosenzweig is actually a pop star masquerading as a writer. He's on Twitter.