As any good real estate agent knows, it's all about "location, location, location." (I know this because Fuse employees watch HGTV all day in the pantry where we microwave our Lean Cuisines.) And in music videos, location is just as important. We've come a lot way from "let's just do this in front of a green screen or at Puffy's mansion," and now, videos are full-fledged cinematic flicks.
While Hollywood backed away from the blinged-out Aughts, we saw a realer (yet still glamorous, don't get me wrong) depiction of the pop stars mugging in these clips. In a motel, someone like Ariana Grande or Justin Bieber becomes more relatable and gritty, flawed and human. A shady motel in music videos like Tove Lo's "Cool Girl" helps cover pop's sparkly sheen with a layer of roadside dust. It allows record labels with big-budget film crews to provide their stars with something they'll rarely ever get: an escape from fame in a dump on Route 66. And for most people, that's the rawest kind of freedom we'll ever crave: the ability to run away.
Here's a look at seven music videos that have used the motel location (location, location) to increase their curbside appeal.
Tove Lo says goodbye to her tamer self in the "Cool Girl" video by stripping things down and taking true coolness to its roots: the mind and the body. A real cool girl can exude that rawness without glitzy, expensive sets, and as you watch Tove sprawl herself on a crusty old car Whitesnake-style in the lamest of overalls, you realize that she's got that motel grit that other only wish they had.
Katy Perry and a muscular dude help each other unbutton their jeans in the video for "Teenage Dream," which made teens ache for freedom from their parents so they could go on a road trip like this one. Of course, this party doesn't really exist IRL—hence the name "Teenage Dream"—so the fling in the ocean, the dancing in the streets and the spontaneous sex in the motel all feed into one desperate longing for happiness. Think about that.
Florence + the Machine's "Delilah" is about finding the inner dancer in the deepest depths of our being, which Flo does all over a dim motel setting. In motels, we can be our seediest and most mysterious, and as she explores the skeleton of the building, she uncovers the rawest secrets of the human condition. Motels are where we're at our most abnormal, where no one knows us—where we don't have to worry about being decent because we'll never see anyone again. It's where sin is temporary and left behind.
Christina Aguilera goes on a killing spree in her "You Body" video. In trailer-park glam, Xtina channels a rough-and-tough murderess who uses nothing but her sensuality and street-smart to lure away strangers and help them meet their fate. The motel in this video is actually the Hollywood-famous Pink Motel, a filmmaker's favorite location, and represents the lower-class aesthetic Aguilera portrays in the vid. By filming at a motel and in a mobile home, she's taking everyday places and making them into her killing dens. No one is safe.
Ariana Grande and America's Next Top Model's Don Benjamin smooch and have a G-rated cuddle sesh in this 2016 video. The motel serves as a getaway for the starlet, who wants to have a quiet, passionate love affair with her bodyguard away from the prying eyes of the public...and her boyfriend.
In literally the most dramatic music video of all time, Fefe Dobson stumbles onto a roadside motel to struggle with the possibility that her boyfriend might be cheating on her. The motel is extremely important, providing multiple identical rooms for the plot to take twists in.
A dirty deal goes down in Justin Bieber's motel room after his girlfriend licks his Calvin Klein–worthy abs. Justin pays a scary admission price for a secret half-pipe party, but that means that he and his pal have to get abducted first. And like any shady business, it goes down in a motel.