I must have started this "Run The World (Girls)" video review at least 30 times. But every time I sit down to write it, I get the urge to watch Beyoncé's Francis Lawrence directed extravaganza one more time without having to analyse each and every frame. It goes without saying that my expectations were high. I agreed with Kanye when he called "Single Ladies" one of the best videos of all time and justifiably ruined Taylor's moment. That clip is already an important piece of modern history and I hoped lightning would strike twice. Because - to be brutally honest - another video phenomenon is about the only thing that can reverse the fortunes of "Run The World (Girls)". As it turns out, Bey doesn't quite pull it off but damn she comes close. There is so much to love about this epic clip. Brilliant photography, breathtaking choreography and a pair of fucking hyenas. It's completely demented in an America's Next Top Model meets Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome kind of way and shows why Mrs Carter is still the fiercest diva on the block even when she's pushing a single with no chorus that sounds like five songs thrown into a blender.
The opening of the clip is immaculate. I defy anyone to name a more impressive introduction. I get chills watching Beyoncé ride that horse through what appears to be a post-apocalyptic landscape like Xena if she wasn't a lesbian. The cinematography is eerily beautiful and there's a real sense of foreboding as the soldiers pile in, while warrior B stands on a burned-out car and her model friends, who prudently held on to their curling irons and couture after the apocalypse, writhe around in the desert. And then, at the 30 second mark, the queen of pop appears in that gorgeous red dress with a lion at her feet looking like something from a renaissance painting. By this point I had a semi and was about to faint from the sheer ferocity of my fave but it only got better. I live for the scene where she slowly lifts her face towards camera in that metallic headdress and her slinky walk towards the soldiers makes Rihanna's entire career instantly redundant.
And then the real magic happens. Bey starts shaking like she's having the most glamorous epileptic fit on record and breaks into the best dance routine featured in a music video since "Single Ladies". I love that Francis Lawrence keeps the camera still in a long shot so you can see that this all Beyoncé - my only gripe is the fact that you would need superhuman powers to duplicate these moves without breaking something. The influence of African tribal dance in the choreography is blindingly obvious and works brilliantly. Next are those hyenas. I just can't. It's the most fabulous thing I've ever seen! While the mirrored outfit and exploding car come a very close second. By the time the choreography returns at about 2:35 mins I thought Beyoncé had pulled a rabbit out of her House of Dereon wig and delivered another flawless masterpiece but unfortunately the final quarter of the clip is a bit of a let down.
Given the frenetic rhythm of the song and the breathtaking choreography that precedes it, the scene where Bey and her girls lie in the sand and deliver some Kylie-esque foot dancing doesn't quite cut it. The moves seem too slow for the music. Then there's the bizarre upside down sand twist. I honestly thought I was watching Kylie the first time I saw it. Beyoncé looks eerily like Ms Minogue circa "Body Language" and rolls around like she's re-making "Slow" in the desert. I actually love the scene visually but it's like they completely forgot the song. It just doesn't fit the aural mayhem that is "Run The World (Girls)". Happily, Bey pulls it together for a truly memorable finale, which again highlights the fact that she is the only big name in music that can sing and dance. The hair whipping is amazing and the choreography is nuts. Taken as a whole this is clearly the best video of 2011 and one of the best clips of the diva's entire career but a little bit of sloppiness stops it from being a flawless masterpiece. Nevertheless, your faves have been scalped and Bey is back on top. The end.