What's with all the different versions of Avril Lavigne running around in her new video? Or, for that matter, the multiple Christinas, Ciaras and Beyoncés in theirs?
Everywhere you look, it seems some pop diva has replicated herself so she's the star of her clip several times over. (Whatever happened to delegating? Surely their budgets can't be that tight.) This is nothing new, actually — Mariah and Madonna are old pros at it by now — but the idea has been spreading lately like a video virus, with Avril just the latest to be infected.
This got us thinking: Are all these people copying themselves, or someone else?
Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend"
Avril Lavigne gets to have it both ways in her "Girlfriend" clip — she's the nice girl and the mean girl. "The redhead is the girlfriend, and the brunette is the bratty one who tries to steal the boyfriend," she explained. (The blonde, of course, is just the regular Avril.) Sure, the brunet Avril knocks the redhead Avril into a port-a-potty and bonks her on the head with a golf ball, but she's not that much of a brat — she's only hurting herself.
Christina Aguilera's "Candyman"
Like Avril, Christina Aguilera's has three different hair colors in her latest video. Her "Candyman" girls are a singing trio along the lines of the Andrews Sisters, and are supposed to look like sisters. But there also seems to be a multiple-personality thing going on (see "Xtina X Three: Aguilera Has Multiple-Personality Disorder In Clip"). Just listen to how Christina explained to MTV News the differences between the three: "The brunette, she wanted to be naughty. She wanted to stir a little trouble. The redhead, she's looking over at the blonde, and she's got a little jealousy in her, like, 'Why aren't I singing the lead?' And the blonde is, of course, my side ... kinda sweet and sassy at the same time." Kinda confusing too.
Ciara's "Like a Boy"
Crossdressing — now that's an entirely different issue. It's one thing to try to imitiate yourself — or different aspects of yourself — but Ciara takes it to a new level when she expresses her masculine side in "Like a Boy" (see "Beyonce, Ciara Explain Why They Unleashed Their Inner Tomboys"). Not that she's lacking for any male companionship, since NFL star Reggie Bush makes a cameo, but Ciara had a point to make. "I'm a tomboy at heart, but I don't go full-out like I did in this video," she told MTV News. "I also wanted to take it a little bit further, saying, 'Yo, I can rock it like this too.' "
Beyoncé's "Upgrade U"
Beyoncé does an impersonation of her man Jay-Z for most of the "Upgrade U" clip. "I love it because it's completely out of my character," Beyoncé said, "or at least the character that people think I am. I'm sure people would be shocked to see that I even did it or that I even could act that way." But why did you have to? At first we thought, what, couldn't B get Jay to be in her video? But after he showed, we got the joke.
Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker"
The funniest multiple-me moment? Back before Mariah became Mimi, there was Bianca. When poor, sweet, innocent Mariah tries to confront the evil Bianca about stealing her boyfriend (Jerry O'Connell) in her "Heartbreaker" video, the two end up in a bathroom brawl inspired by "Enter the Dragon." Silly, maybe, but it's a fan favorite, and from there, the floodgates opened.
Madonna's "Die Another Day"
Madonna's no multiple-version virgin — she destroyed her own ego, or so she sang, in "Die Another Day," in which she expanded on her fencing-teacher cameo in the James Bond movie. While Madonna is being tortured in one room, two versions of herself — one in black, one in white — battle it out in a scene that riffs on past Bond movies, before the good Madonna kills the bad Madonna. Moral of the story? Nobody messes with Madonna — not even herself.
Kylie Minogue's "Come Into My World"
In 2002, Kylie Minogue strolled around a city block in Paris over and over, with a new Kylie emerging from a store each time the singer made her way around. Or was it the old Kylie? The clip was a Michel Gondry-directed delight, tracing her path, watching one Kylie drop something only to have another Kylie pick it up, and then the two (then three, then four) swerve to avoid each other as they swing around street poles. Then again, Kylie was copying herself in yet another fashion, since she had a Kylie-clone theme in her 1997 clip "Did It Again."
Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For"
Gwen Stefani had an emotional crisis when she tried to do her first solo album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, the insecurities of which were reflected in the lyrics and video for "What You Waiting For" (see "Gwen Stefani Battles With Herself On First Single From Solo LP"). So as Stefani sang of her conflicted feelings in the form of a dialogue with herself, she reimagined that inner argument as an "Alice in Wonderland" dream, in which she was Alice, the Queen of Hearts, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. One (more confident) Gwen would tell the other (more nervous) Gwen, "Take a chance, you might grow." "You can tell I'm still having issues," the singer said, "but the outcome has been so worth it."
Ashlee Simpson's "Shadow"
Remember when Ashlee Simpson tried to be like Jessica Simpson? We mean in her video for "Shadow." Director Liz Friedlander depicted two different Ashlees who lived side by side — one blonde, one brunette — with the blonde's world being pretty and happy and the brunette's being, well, less so (see "Blondes Have More Fun In Ashlee Simpson's New Video"). "It's like me against myself," Simpson said, "kind of a facing-your-inner-demons kind of thing and things you battle with day to day." Except the only demon depicted was, well, Jessica — when the blonde smashes a mirror to Ashlee's horror. What does this really tell us about the Simpson family's dynamic?
Jennifer Lopez's "Get Right"
What the hell is going on in the "Get Right" video? (See "An Army Of J. Los — Enough For A Dozen Marriages — Star In 'Get Right' Clip.") One Jennifer is DJing; one Jennifer is dancing alone, with her eyes closed, doing the same moves that another Jennifer is doing on a screen. Yet another Jennifer is also alone, but excited enough to dance on tables. One J. Lo is trying to order drinks from another J. Lo; one is comforting another J. Lo who is crying; one J. Lo waves to another — it's like "Multiplicity" meets "Norbit." Is this what Eddie Murphy has wrought?
Mandy Moore's "Extraordinary"
Mandy Moore is going to top them all, since she'll be no less than 120 versions of herself in her upcoming video for "Extraordinary," which was shot earlier this month in Los Angeles. Her characters include a hippie chick, a rocker chick, a '50s housewife and, strangely enough, Amelia Earhart. "She's kind of the hero," Moore explained. "She's the Mandy that makes the move to jump off the tower and be extraordinary." Could be an extraordinary disaster in the making — or just what Mandy needs to make a multiple comeback.