If Missy Elliott is known for anything, it’s her bravado. The woman knows how to brag. Unfortunately, after a long hiatus from the industry, Missy has little to back it up. The last time we heard anything from Missy Elliott was in July 2016, when she was rapping “Get Your Freak On” in a carpool with James Corden and Michelle Obama (Obama/Elliott 2020).
The icy lyrics for her new stripped-down single try to remind us of the Missy Elliott we know and love. And the video has a lot going on…
With Elliott co-directing the video, I wasn’t surprised with the array of extraordinarily weird costumes (see: hairstyles similar to those of Beaker the Muppets) and energetic moves. But the dancing didn’t seem to keep pace with the music—it was much more animated and pumped up than the actual song. At one point exercise balls are involved. Don’t ask why.
Also, what kind of lip gloss is Missy using because it looks like she just put clear plastic over black lipstick and I’m fascinated.
The underwater choreography is appreciated. Underwater settings are becoming a trend for artists and I’m not angry about it (take Beyoncé’s maternity shoot , for example).
As for the lyrics?
“He watching my body like he watching /Scandal/. What does this mean? @ShondaRhimes can you explain? Is he binge-watching Missy?
All-in-all, this video seems to be a failed attempt at reaching back into the public eye. Missy is back—but she’s not better, not better, not better.
-Morgan Davis, Staff Writer
The aesthetic of the “I’m Better” music video is fascinating, but hard to pinpoint. It’s somewhere in between Pink Friday-era Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus’ “Can’t Be Tamed” bird look, and the classic sci-fi music video. Dancers in similarly confusing outfits bop around like puppets behind Missy.
The song lacks punch. There are trap-inspired boops, blips, and sirens, but they come across surprisingly low key. The whole thing is maybe supposed to sound cool and menacing; both Missy and Lamb’s flows are slow and steady throughout the track, and there isn’t much of a melodic pick-up in the chorus.
This chill song would be better served if the aesthetic of the video wasn’t so wild. At a certain point, the backup dancers are dressed in all white and bouncing on exercise balls at the bottom of a pool. Missy then appears underwater and neon pink rave lights start strobing over all of them. I’m not sure how I am supposed to feel.
-April Barrett, Managing Editor
It’s nice to see Missy throwing back to her classic ‘wiggling background dancers in unconventional outfits’ aesthetic. Despite being darker and more futurist than her previous videos, the choreography is reminiscent of “Ching-A-Ling”’s gelatinous dance moves and gold motifs.
There’s a surprise pool of water in the middle of the dance floor! This is exciting. It looks like a continuous floor but it’s not. The dancers are flopping into the surprise water and it’s very exhilarating. To be quite honest, this might be the most surprising thing Missy has pulled off in recent years. Not to be too critical of an icon who can almost do no wrong, but 2015’s “WTF (Where They From)” included a lot of the same things we have come to expect from her. It didn’t break much new ground. What with Lady Gaga’s meat dress and Miley Cyrus’ reinvented tumblr-core image in our collective cultural conscience, it takes more to surprise the average pop-music aficionado.
“He watches my body like he watches Scandal”— basically how every man should observe their partner at all times. Nice to see that Missy is still a romantic. Her lyrics might be more poignant if they weren’t paired with Lamb’s monotonous, dull delivery. “I wake up, I wanna dance. / So, as long as I got my friends, / I’m better, I’m better, I’m better”—okay, Lamb. Not better than nearly every other rapper out there, I don’t think. At least you have friends.
The visuals are admittedly off the chain. The pool sequences are especially captivating. Who knew eight women in clunky heels could pull off a routine choreographed with silver exercise balls in near unison? Missy’s metal-plated lips add to video’s over-stimulating-yet-charming look. Somehow, few female rap icons pull off wacky aesthetics to the same degree as Missy—she always seems to be a couple dozen years ahead of the game.
It’s a shame that Lamb takes this party down a few notches. The video would be “Better” without him in it.
—Selin Altuntur, Arts & Entertainment Editor