'Girls Like You' and Maroon 5: Why the Video Is so Significant
Just Some Of The Women
'Girls Like You' A Huge Step For Girls Like Me
I walked into the library of the high school I teach at late last week and my friend and colleague, who was chatting with a student at the time, motioned me over. Both were watching something on a computer screen, and my friend told the student that they needed to back up what they were watching so I could see it from the start.
I should preface this by saying that I don't watch a whole lot of music videos. I don't typically seek them out, and when I go on YouTube, it's generally for the purpose of getting ideas for new music to use for a karate demo or to have some sort of music playing in the background while I work.
As the video started, I was struck by just how simple the video was. Just Adam Levine, dressed in a plain t-shirt and jeans, with the rest of Maroon 5 taking their spots behind him. Then, the women came.
I had to watch the video a couple of times, just to even try and process who was in the video. Gal Gadot - probably one of my favorite new actresses. Ellen, whom I adore. J Lo, who's become such a tour de force in entertainment lately it's hard to just think of her as a pop musician. Millie Bobby Brown, who looks like she has a great sense of humor in spite of playing such a challenging character as Stranger Things' Eleven. So many more women - some I didn't know. A Canadian (Lilly Singh, aka ||Superwoman||), which blew my mind - I can't recall when I saw a Canadian beyond Bryan Adams in a music video with a supergroup like Maroon 5, though I'm sure there have had to be some. That beautiful ending shot before the camera panned over all the women in the video - Adam Levine turns and wraps his arms around wife Behati Prinsloo and one of their two daughters, looking like he's holding his whole world close.
There were also women not necessarily known for their role in the entertainment industry, like Aly Raisman, the gymnast who bravely spoke her truth about Dr. Larry Nassar, the disgraced doctor from the US gymnastics team. Activist and writer Jackie Fielder. Politician Ilhan Omar. Alex Morgan, the world's top-earning soccer player.
I know I've not identified or talked about every single woman in this video; Billboard has a comprehensive list of exactly who, from the women I mentioned to Sarah Silverman, Angy Rivera and Trace Lysette and more, appears in the video. Suffice it to say, it's not just a list of actresses and musicians, and that, in and of itself, is cool.
While I sat there, watching this video and trying to absorb the faces and personalities of everyone involved, my friend and I began talking about the video. Never mind the fact that Adam Levine is a handsome man - there's no disputing that. However, for my friend and I, this video is particularly striking in a way that the current generation of young women may not necessarily understand.
I was about 8 when 'Video Killed The Radio Star,' the first music video, came out. I was a teenager when music videos really became mainstream, and seeing a video like 'Girls Like You' just would not have happened. When I was a teenager, it was the 1980s and into the very early 1990s. There would have been no way a group of women on the scale that Maroon 5 and the video's director David Dobkin have in 'Girls Like You' would have turned up in a 1980s or 1990s video. It just wasn't done. At that point, women were celebrated for their figures and sung about because a man loved them. 'Girls Like You' is the first song - and video - that I can recall that honors women for their strength and who they are.
It is a celebration of women and their power. For example, Cardi B nails a terrific rap at one point in the song, and according to an Entertainment Weekly interview with Dobkin, she just flew out and did the bit in the video without anyone approving. She apparently didn't wait for her management to say yes or no; she just said, "I'm doing it," and boom! That's pretty powerful in and of itself - she was asked, and there wasn't anything that was going to stop her, apparently. When you look at the caliber of all these women in the video - actors, musicians, athletes, and activists - it would seem Cardi B is in good company.
'Girls Like You' is a video that girls like me and my generation didn't know we needed. I can't think of any other video I've seen where women and female empowerment are celebrated on the level that is done in this song. Adam Levine, Maroon 5, and David Dobkin - thank you.