Reporting Courtney E. Smith
Using one part high action sci-fi, one part Wizard of Oz and a dash of fishnet arm stockings, Kelly Clarkson taps into some of the icons of outsider angst for her latest music video, “People Like Us.”
The video opens (and thankfully quickly pans through) an ill-advised close of up Clarkson’s mouth — and then cuts to her at the center of a team of black & white scientists who appear to be keeping individual observation charts on a young girl. The group are in a Ray Bradbury-esque near-future medical deck, actually not so different from the style of sets you could find on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Or almost any alien invasion movie set aboard a space cruiser.
For her singing shots, Clarkson dons a bright blue v-neck that’s sleeveless but heavy on the shoulder pads with full-length fishnet arm stockings and a tight ponytail that evokes the style of a kinder, softer Mad Max character but a tougher look than normal for Clarkson.
Director Chris Marrs Piliero utilizes color to tell us who are the good and bad guys. The innocent little girl, who is the subject of so much scrutiny for unexplained reasons, is always in color. Clarkson literally rubs the girls’ color on herself at one point, before they bust out of their black & white jail.
The final scene is a page right out of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Clarkson and the girl escape in a red BMW coupé (the second major product placement of the video — the first being a yellow Nokia phone Clarkson brandishes) down a yellow dirt road. It’s not quite brick, but the imagery is clearly Dorothy accompanied by the good witch/good scientist Kelly Clarkson.
This sort of cinematic setting is nothing unusual for the director Piliero, although we’ve never seen him interconnect so many influences in one video before. He was the award winning mind behind The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up” and “Howlin’ For You,” the latter of which was itself a parody of an action movie trailer. He used elements of his dark magic/sci-fi touch in The Wanted’s “I Found You” and put Britney Spears into the middle of an action movie co-starring her now-ex Jason Trawick for “Criminal.”
“People Like Us” is one of several new songs that appear on Clarkson’s 2012 Greatest Hits: Chapter 1 collection, alongside recent hit top-20 hit “Catch My Breath.” Produced by frequent Clarkson collaborator Greg Kurstin, “People Like Us” was released as a single last month.