The most amazing thing about
Seems "Single Ladies" — which is nominated for nine Moonmen at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year — was basically an afterthought. Director Jake Nava got around to it only after wrapping production on "If I Were a Boy," a higher-gloss, higher-profile video that was originally intended to be the main attraction of B's first two I Am ... Sasha Fierce singles.
"The video was shot back-to-back with 'If I Were a Boy' in New York City, but as soon as we finished the edit, I realized it was special," Nava wrote to MTV News in an e-mail. "I don't think any of us predicted the amount of parodies it would attract. It's a testament to Beyoncé's mind-boggling talent and to the fact that sometimes, less really can be more."
Nava isn't kidding. Unlike any other VMA-nominated clip, "Single Ladies" exudes a lo-fi, sorta-DIY charm. In a lot of ways, it appears like it was custom-made for the YouTube generation, which probably explains why making homages became a worldwide phenomenon. Justin Timberlake and Joe Jonas donned black leotards for much-publicized parody versions. Barack Obama mimicked B's hand moves during his inauguration weekend. And online, everyone from portly gentlemen to precocious toddlers put a ring on it.
A lot of that can be attributed to the song — which, if you ask us, is pretty great — and Beyoncé's moves, we'd be remiss if we didn't give some props to Nava's team too. From the purposely long takes and the deft edits to the now-classic choreography and the hyper-glam styling, "Single Ladies" is very much a technical accomplishment that looks deceptively simple to the casual observer.
"Although I wanted the video to feel like it was one continuous take, on the shoot day we decided to split the song into three parts. I deliberately let the shots be long so viewers would connect with the human endeavor of Beyoncé's awe-inspiring dance, which was inspired by an old-school Bob Fosse routine," Nava wrote. "The styling was inspired by a Vogue photo shoot. All the changes in look and lighting were executed 'in camera,' because I wanted to keep the feel very organic and ungimmicky."
Sometimes, less really is more. And "Single Ladies" is proof.
Go Behind the Lens of other Video of the Year nominees:
» Eminem Turns Method Actor In VMA-Nominated 'We Made You' Clip
» Lady Gaga's VMA-Nominated 'Poker Face' Video Almost Went To The Dogs
» Kanye West's VMA-Nominated 'Love Lockdown' -- The Video You Almost Didn't See
Watch the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards Preshow this Sunday, September 13, at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the big event, live at 9 p.m. Check out our interactive map of New York to see how the city is celebrating the VMAs all week long, and stay tuned for party coverage, concert reports, behind-the-scenes updates and more.