Ariana Grande x Reebok Sends Mixed Messages with New Video and Single

Ariana Grande x Reebok Sends Mixed Messages with New Video and Single

Ariana collaborates with Nicki Minaj as the second teaser for her upcoming album Sweetener. But did Reebok miss the mark when making it a promotional video?

Ariana Grande x Reebok Sends Mixed Messages with New Video and Single

Ariana collaborates with Nicki Minaj as the second teaser for her upcoming album Sweetener. But did Reebok miss the mark when making it a promotional video?

With Reebok being the first to release Ariana Grande’s new single with Nicki Minaj, “The Light is Coming,” it was no secret that the music video was a collaboration to promote the shoe brand. However, the music video is already starting to receive backlash for not focusing on Grande’s motivational message of getting through hard times. Although Grande has already released a single to tease her next album Sweetener, “The Light Is Coming” is the second single released after the one-year milestone of the tragic Manchester bombing that occurred on her Dangerous Woman tour last year. But Grande’s lyrics show that she refuses to surrender to evil in her constant mantra in the song: “The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole.”

The video primarily features the duo in a sultry and smokey forest scene dancing around a glowing orb, with the spotlight occasionally panning down to make Grande and Minaj’s Reebok shoes visible. Although the video barely makes the Reebok logo visible during the video, many fans are upset that it was directed to be more aesthetically pleasing and sensual than inspirational. The video, which only features two different scenes, comes off as outtakes from a creative photoshoot than a video that encourages fans to overcome their fears. “The Light Is Coming,” co-produced by Pharrell, creates a bubblegum-pop beat with trap influence full of energy, especially with Minaj’s opening rap verse. Pharrell even drops one of his own samples into the beginning of a man shouting, “You wouldn’t let anybody speak!”, a political audio clip that was also used when producing N.E.R.D and Rihanna’s Lemon. The clip, which is weaved throughout the single, is believed to be from Democratic Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania in 2009. Although the true meaning of the sample is still ambiguous, it is inevitable that Pharrell and Grande want to release songs with a new layer of meaning. In one interview, Pharrell tells The Fader: “In all honesty, I feel like [after Manchester] was when different people from the record company actually started to understand what we were trying to do...It’s unfortunate that that situation is what gave it context, but they were able to really see it then. And that’s the truth.”

Grande’s full album Sweetener is expected to be released August 28th, 2018, and is now available for preorder. Whether Reebok’s direction of Grande’s music video was intended to be apolitical or not, it’s clear that the message from “The Light is Coming” went up in smoke.