When I was a kid, I thought I’d be lounging by the beach or in a pool every summer because that’s what the movies taught me about aspirations of the emerging middle class. I also thought owning property and having stable, adult relationships were within my reach by 25, so lol. Something’s been eating away at me as the balmy heat has given way to winter, though: I can’t stop delving into an unfulfilled and entirely fiscally irresponsible daydream of white sand beaches and a Sun, Sex, and Suspicious Parents-like lifestyle (minus the supervision). As the threat of a nuclear war looms closer, I’ve realized that I basically want to live in a top 40 music video.
You may have noticed how so many of them look alike: they pair airy bops with peachy pastels, poolside lounging and probably a flamingo because that was a thing this year. It’s the Instagram influencer’s life, but with fewer hashtags. Take the video for Jonas Blue’s “Mama” and its clean Albanian coastlines; Dua Lipa’s record-breaking “New Rules“ (above) soared into the charts with a girl-squad video at a lush resort; elsewhere, Anne Marie's "Ciao Adios" left me dreaming of faraway lands where everyone can dance and no one wears black COS trousers. But one question remains: what do a bunch of actual “influencers” think of an entire industry stealing their look? I asked them.
Anna Lysakowska of @anna.everywhere
Noisey: When you look at these videos, what stands out? What would you say their aesthetic—or their vibe—is?
Anna Lysakowska: I didn't like the Dua Lipa video. It looks a bit like a Katy Perry video but with a lower budget, and I can't really say what the artist's vibe is from it. I like what Anne-Marie did with her video of Morocco, but I think more people would watch it if you could see more of Morocco, as I'm sure some people didn't even realise where was it filmed. Jonas Blue's video is a perfect example of a modern video, whether a travel or music video in general: lots of drone shots, guys having bro-time, good-looking women, and close-ups of their body parts.
What do you think you could teach the videographers? What,do they need to work on?
I think what people like these days are fast-moving images with good-looking people in it. If a shot is great but lasts too long, a lot of viewers might lose their interest. Different camera angles also help convince people stay and watch the video.
What makes you know an image is going to get loads of likes?
When there's a woman in a bikini, sexy clothes, showing a lot of butt shots, fast-moving cars, and drone shots—like in “Mama” by Jonas Blue for instance.
How much attention do you usually pay to music videos?
I don't really watch music videos, I just listen to music on Spotify.
Oneika Raymond of @OneikaTraveller
Noisey: As someone who literally does travel blogging, how would you describe the aesthetics of these videos to a regular person like me?
Oneika Raymond: All of the videos had a dreamy, whimsical vibe, which, if successful, entices the viewer and creates a sense of longing. This fantasy feeling is created by the landscapes and backdrops, particularly in the Anne-Marie and Jonas Blue videos, and by the retro or vintage filter and color grade used in all three videos. The videos also used slow motion to achieve this feeling.
Okay I saw you were recently in Morocco, where Anne-Marie’s video was shot. Has she bitten your style? What could she have done better?
Anne-Marie should have included more authentic Moroccan elements in the video. It was strange because I felt like she used several West African and South American motifs throughout the clip that completely clashed with Moroccan/North African culture.
How would you describe that of your own posts?
My posts are generally more vibrant in terms of color scheme—I tend to stay away from Instagram filters. However, they still evoke a sense of fantasy because of the way they are edited: bumping up the contrast and sharpness makes them look more dramatic and artistic.
I wonder if any overlap is based on coincidence, influence, or passing trends.
Producing inspirational and aspirational imagery that creates an element of fantasy is a huge trend in the travel photography world right now. I think it's because consumers view travel as an escapist activity that can transport you literally and figuratively to another world. Most people who follow travel accounts on Instagram thus crave imagery that is romantic and fanciful—there is already so much ugly and gritty stuff in the real world, so travel should be light, airy, playful, and beautiful.
When you’re figuring out which photo to post, how do you know which picture’s going to rake in the likes?
Well-composed, vibrant pictures that show me interacting with an epic backdrop or landscape often do the best on my feed. If the picture is creatively staged and/or shows movement—for example, running through a cornfield—it does even better. Funnily enough, while I'm not a fashion blogger, pictures where I'm wearing a nice outfit also get a lot of engagement—my fans will ask me where I bought certain items of clothing, especially if I’m in a long, floaty dress.
Polina Burashnikova of @polabur
Noisey: Hey Polina, have pop stars stolen your look?
Polina Burashnikova: Anne-Marie’s vibe has a free-spirit and colors-without-rules in a beautiful location. Jonas Blue’s is more like chasing the sun(set), summer romance, road trips, and being freed by summer. Dua Lipa’s is defined by colorful outfits, matching the setting to the clothes, and overall summer vibes.
How would you describe that of your own posts? What is your brand?
As it says in my Instagram bio, I want to be your daily travel inspiration. However, my page is a mix of travel, lifestyle, fashion and food. This is what people like about my page, I believe—a mix of different things.
Do you see any overlap? Do you thinks it's coincidence or are the videographers riding your coattails?
The videographers definitely might have been inspired by the popular travel bloggers (not necessarily me ☺), as these are the aesthetics that are trending now.
Sabina Trojanova of @girlvsglobe
Looking at these videos, what do you first see? What stands out?
The thing that stands out to me most is definitely the location of each video—you’ve got Marrakech in Anne-Marie's video, Albania in Jonas Blue’s, and Miami in Dua Lipa's. Although they're not part of the narrative, each of the settings is immediately recognizable.
If you could talk to these videographers, what aesthetic advice would you give them? What could they improve?
For me it's all about communicating practical information to my viewers. But any creative is essentially trying to perfect the same skill: storytelling. I think the locations should play more of a central role in the videos' narrative. Incorporating a foreign country into your art should be about more than an exotic backdrop. While I think Anne-Marie's video is aesthetically pleasing, they made little to no use of the vibrant culture all around them—that's a huge missed opportunity.
Katja Hentschel of @travelettes
When you look at these videos, what stands out?
Dua Lipa and Anne-Marie both made impressive ones: original themes, creative choreography, super cool styling. The words that come to my mind watching their videos are girl power, diversity, beauty, and creativity. On the other hand, Jonas Blue’s video stands out in this trio. The only vibe I’m getting here is that it's just another music video of average-looking dudes hooking up with gorgeous models. My impression is that Jonas Blue had some misogynist video producer tell him he needs girls in underwear to get people to watch his video, which is sad.
How does that compare to what’s going on on Instagram though?
Well my vibe is all about transporting a feeling rather than just something to look at. Like any art form—and I do consider both music videos and Instagram photos a type of art—the best type of art starts with an inner dialogue. It asks questions and conveys a feeling.
Nathan is probably on Instagram right this second but he's also on Twitter.