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How Tove Lo’s music videos empower women, including women of color

Screenshot from Tove Lo's "Tove Lo - Are U gonna tell her? ft. MC Zaac"
Screenshot from Tove Lo's "Tove Lo - Are U gonna tell her? ft. MC Zaac"

You might know Tove Lo as the talent behind Habits (Stay High), a song popularly remixed by Hippie Sabotage. A Grammy-nominated songwriter, she also penned Ellie Golding’s hit Love Me Like You Do. But we’re not here to brag about Tove Lo’s songwriting abilities: we’re here to rave about her recent music videos, and how they empower women.

Just a few weeks ago, Tove Lo released the massively empowering music video for her recent single Bikini Porn. It featured the electro-pop star dancing around in unexpected places wearing a striking, pink, zebra striped bikini.

The video takes the common “beautiful woman in skimpy clothes” trope and reminds viewers that behind every pleasant visual there is indeed a thinking, feeling woman. She simultaneously flaunts her own autonomy while underlining how uncomfortable an otherwise common dynamic becomes when the woman is the one in power, and the fourth wall is removed between performer and audience.

Her carefree, confident style permeates her music and on-camera presence alike. Her most recent music video manages to take things up a notch.

The video for Are U gonna tell her? starts with a typical bad date. A beautiful woman shows up to a restaurant where her date treats her disrespectfully. The video then bursts into a powerful fantasy as the protagonist makes eye contact with a cute bus boy across the room.

You might first notice the gorgeous lighting design. Creating something at once striking and cohesive out of incredibly complex color mixing certainly deserves attention in its own right. Never hard on the eyes or predictable, we would have loved this music video for the lighting alone. As the video continues, though, we witness something much more profound than just a sequence of pretty shots.

The ensuing play on gender roles takes the video from beautiful to visionary

Shots of the female protagonist twerking are matched shot for shot with the male protagonist twerking. What could have been a typical, objectifying, male-centric, we’ve-seen-it-a-thousand-times-before, snooze shot is turned into an act of passion and athleticism.

Instead of a slow motion round thing moving up and down for your (read: a man’s) enjoyment, the twerking plays out fast-paced and powerful. Rather than becoming an object of desire, the woman displays her own desires.

This video doesn’t simply suggest “women deserve respect.” While the protagonist might be fantasizing, the talent performing on screen certainly exists in flesh and blood. The video allows this particular woman – a strong, talented woman of color – to demand respect for herself. Through her active role on screen, she proves undeniably that she deserves such respect.

We love the response this video has garnered so far, with over 2.5 million views in less than a week. It quickly surpassed other standout releases from the past week, including great new videos from Porter Robinson, SOFI TUKKER, and San Holo. It clearly pays to empower women.

Want to be a part of the magic? Tove Lo will be performing in Seattle on February 24th. Tickets are available here.

If you missed last week’s music video roundup, click here to check out it out. Till next time, music video enthusiasts!

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