The Week Everyone Became (Rightly) Obsessed With The Solange Knowles Song/Video "Losing You"
It's often simple laziness that leads writers to discuss Solange through a comparison to her sister Beyonce; the former has been a compelling artist in her own right for some time now, thank you very much. However, Solange's new video for her single "Losing You" does something that both Knowles sisters do really well and it seems a shame not to mention it. The video strikes a careful balance broadcasting strength, vulnerability and beauty while never seeming excessive. Like Beyonce's "Countdown" it revels in what would stereotypically be considered female emotion (this time it's heartbreak as opposed to devotion), but it never comes across as weak or self-pitying.
The video doesn't flip gender norms or reveal them as ridiculous. Rather, by contrasting the vulnerability of the song with the poise of the visuals, Solange is able to tell the truth about the pain of breaking-up, and sneak in all kinds of clever messages about both race and gender. There's nothing that feels particularly radical or gimmicky here, and that's a tribute to Solange's ability to seamlessly navigate what, for many artists, would be perilous terrain.
The track shares a lot of DNA with Usher's "Climax" and Robyn's more plaintive work--the production, done by Dev Hynes, is breathy and atmospheric, and essentially exists to amplify an exquisitely simple vocal. The nexus of Solange's vulnerability rests within that vocal, in the first lines of the song. "Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good?" she sings steadily, letting the emotion rest entirely in the lyrics. "We used to kiss all night but now there's just no use."
But the second four lines are defiant: "I know you're waiting for the rest that you can't get from me ... I'm not the one that you should be making your enemy." The threat, delivered as calmly as the opening question, never seems histrionic. One would never want an enemy this self-possessed.
That self-possession carries over into the video, directed by the talented (look at this pedigree) Melina Matsoukas. Matsoukas takes the song's balance, and makes it glow, running Solange and a friendly co-ed group through a group of colorful activities in South Africa. Everyone looks as if they were dressed by Savoy Row's most colorful personalities and then bustled through a tie-dye carwash--everything is tailored, everything is colorful, everyone is happy.