The Gravity of Upbeat

You may not be the biggest fan of Naughty Boy’s music, Beyoncé’s singing or Arrow Benjamin’s vocals. You may even be immune to the charms of their collaboration, the song Runnin’ (Lose It All). But I can’t imagine anyone being unimpressed by Runnin’ (Lose It All) music video, directed by Charlie Robins and Julie Gautier, and shot by Jacques Ballard.

I have to confess: I don’t dance. Neither to party music nor to ballroom, nor any other. Without any particular reason. I don’t know if I’m a good or a bad dancer. I know I have a sense of rhythm. But I simply don’t feel like it. The only person that suffers because of it is my darling wife (who loves dancing!), even though she got used to it. However, I’m a sucker for musicals, music videos and basically anything that has people swirling in various kinds of dancing. The way they are choreographed to convey different emotions without using a single word. The upbeat feeling of experiencing the purity of movement that crosses every possible human barrier. The ability to watch something so complex and straightforward at the same time. True beauty. Simple as that. Also, it makes my wife quite happy because she loves those too.

A man free-floating underwater, waiting to wake up

Still from Runnin’ (Lose It All)

That said, If I had to pick one song from the last couple of years that might make me reconsider my stand on dancing, it’d be Naughty Boy’s Runnin’ (Lose It All) ft. Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin. It’s this rare combination of expressive vocals, upbeat lyrics and perfectly structured and produced music; the song starts with a series of melancholic piano notes but after a short while it makes room for a dynamic music landscape that’s perfectly matched with the lyrics and the overall feel. The trick was to shoot a music video that would emphasize the song’s greatest merits while adding another layer(s) of visual meaning.

And they did shoot it, they really did, making me want to write this post.

The result is evocative and mesmerizing. Kudos to Charlie Robins (director), Julie Gautier (co-director), Jacques Ballard (cinematographer), Alice Modolo (female free-diver), Guillaume Néry (male free-diver), and the rest of the crew responsible for this gem of a music video:

I feel elated every single time I watch Runnin’ (Lose It All). Every. Single. Time. Here is a music video shot underwater with two freedivers covering subaquatic distance to fall into each other’s arms (though the activity of ‘falling’ seems a bit vague in this case), accompanied by a natural spectacle of light and color. Here is a music video choreographed, synchronized and edited to the joyous beat of a song that puts an emphasis on the value a relationship between two people can have in making one of them, or both, stop running from themselves. Finally, here is a music video which you can watch, and have fun in doing so, without necessarily noticing the lyrics – the rhythm, the music, the tone, the passion; it’s all there, a perfect audiovisual mix of emotions and images.

I can’t really say what aspect of it I consider the best. What strikes me the most every time I see it is the choreography of the underwater movement of the on-screen freedivers Guillaume Néry and Alice Modolo, based partially on Néry and Runnin’ co-director Julie Gautier’s short film Ocean Gravity. Gautier was the one responsible for the music video’s choreography and she made it beautiful, gracious and spontaneous at the same time; combining the almost tangible physicality of the freedivers’ moves and gestures with the obvious urgency of having to reach each other whatever the cost. What it adds to the overall quality of the music video is, of course, another layer of audiovisual perfection (they shot it with the wonderfully reliable, high-end Red Dragon camera in a small atoll in French Polynesia to reach the desired effect), as well as the wow factor.

OCEAN GRAVITY from Les films engloutis on Vimeo.

I mean, knowing a thing or two about various camera tricks, I was aware there were no CGI-enhanced performances in this music video, but as I had no idea about the world of freediving, I didn’t realize what they could do underwater with their bodies (as explained in this informative video). Thus, I was pretty amazed when I’ve researched the topic on the web and learned some of the stuff they do. For example, during the shoot they held their breath for a couple of minutes at a time while simultaneously using quite a dangerous current that helped them achieve the much desired velocity which was needed for running underwater in jeans instead of freediving suits.

So, an alluring, dynamic, emotional, ingeniously performed music video to a party-starting song with a simple yet resonant message. What else do you need to start, or end, your day better?

Anyone care to dance?

Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
Together we’ll win it all

A man and a woman finally meet underwater, though upside down

Still from “Runnin’ (Lose It All)”

PS. During writing this post, I had Runnin’ (Lose It All) playing on the loop (with the underwater visuals screened at my own private mental cinema). And after listening to it for the umpteenth time, I still adore it!
PS2. If you like dancing, you may want to check this out.