Haim are great musicians and even better trolls. They are a rockist Rubik's Cube. They're retrofitting the kind of music ('80s-indebted rhythmic rock) that curmudgeonly critics despised when it ruled the airwaves. But now—confronted with the group's Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Prince, Kate Bush, and Billy Squier platonic pop smoothie—these stodgy turds can't totally despise the results because Haim are really fucking good at their instruments and write their own lyrics and do all those other things that sure as shit don't matter but remain important if you're an insecure white man over forty lamenting whatever's left of rock n' roll.
The low-key jubilant video for "If I Could Change Your Mind," directed by Warren Fu, which finds the Haim sisters dressed awesomely (popping collars, wearing leather well) and doing a cheekydance routine, is similarly tricky. The choreography seems to be a sticking point for some. Nodding to girl group moves of the '60s and poppy post-punk grooving of the '80s, it was conceptualized by legendary choreographer Fatima Robinson, best known for her swift, authoritative work with Aaliyah ("Are You That Somebody," "Try Again," more), and Robinson affords it an uncomplicated finesse.
The centerpiece of the video is the group dancing on stage with the "Haim" real big in lights, recalling '70s performance shows like Soul Train and Midnight Special (It also, appropriately, given Haim's polarizing rise, invokes the Strokes' own in-quotes throwback performance clip for "Last Nite"). Warren Fu was also behind Daft Punk's "Lose Yourself To Dance," which mined the same kind of '70s TV aesthetic in a way that hovered somewhere between sincerity and kitsch. But that video just kind of stopped there, content to superficially add a little more context to Daft Punk's widescreen disco nostalgia media blitz. "If I Could Change Your Mind" embodies of Haim's music: An almost creepily professional and downpat, deadpan expression of the band's aesthetic, cloaked in pop history references, yet entirely their own.
Still, if you want to see the video as in part, a lark, then understand that the "joke" is not on all those other pop videos with their ambitious, decadent dancing, but rather it's on Haim, who are snapping their fingers and swerving, beautifully if simplistically, and leaving the tough stuff to those that can pull it off. The moves aren't supposed to be complicated or all that ambitious, and that isn't always the point of choreography anyway. And here, there's a sense of fun and even a little goofiness that never devolves into irony. On some level, "If I Could Change Your Mind" houses a populist message: "These are the types of moves that anybody can learn." But it certainly doesn't scream that message out or use it as a crutch to hedge its bets. Considering "If I Could Change Your Mind" the anti-"Single Ladies" actually kind of works, here. It's both a commoner's adjustment to that iconic video and a celebration of someone like Beyoncé's skills, by way of their absence.
Brandon Soderberg is currently learning the Haim dance. He's on Twitter — @notrivia