First Impressions: Little Mix’s “Black Magic”

ALY: This music video is exactly perfect for this song, and what this song is is the highlight reel of the exact movie that Little Mix has just made. This is maybe the best song in the world? That’s not true but honestly it might be. CRYSTAL BALLIN is not not the aesthetic, is what I’m saying. This is like peak nineties girl-power witchcraft movie jams, this is the song that every one of those movies now wishes had been written when they were looking for credits music. Like, this video is the three-minute trailer for the remake of The Craft that they just announced, and it stars Little Mix and instead of stabbing each other in the back they just stay best friends and throw dance parties at school. That’s the whole movie, and this song is the makeover montage, the discovering of their abilities, the part where they kindly put Jade’s sweater vest in a dumpster, the power that (spoiler alert) comes not just from magic but from THE MAGIC OF FRIENDSHIP. Has Leigh-Anne Pinnock ever looked more beautiful? Is she real? I have never seen her in the same room as an actual angel, is what I’m saying, so? Is Jesy Nelson a literal rose incarnated as a human? IS THERE STILL TIME FOR ME TO COME AND GET IT, JESY? These are my burning questions. five stars, would recommend, will watch again eighty million times. Friendship!!!!!!! Gentle vengeance!!!!!!!!!! Helping the nerdy dude get the girl!!!!!!!!!! Elle Woods would love this video if she weren’t already basically starring in it!!!!! Album 3 is going to be such a beautiful noughties dream!!!!!!!

ARIA: I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t totally sold on “Black Magic” when the audio was released. It’s fun, but it’s not “Move.” My interest in the song shifted from ambivalent to casually interested when my friend Britt made a tumblr post I can paraphrase to, “I can’t believe Little Mix just released a song teaching girls to demand oral sex,” which, ok, excellent selling point. BUT THIS VIDEO!! OH! MY! GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! I haven’t had such an over-the-top reaction to seeing a music video for a subpar single since “Best Song Ever.” And this is not in the ballpark of BSE. Not even the same sport. It’s so much better than anything I could have ever imagined for it. Maybe that’s TOO over-the-top. Lord knows we can imagine some spectacular setups for our girls. BUT it’s the campiest teen movie romp PLUS witches, like She’s All That got all its shitty sexist parts replaced by sections of Practical Magic and The Craft. I can’t get over it! I’ll never be over it! I can’t really make sentences about it, so here are some things I want to scream about:

OPEN: RELATABLE CLUMSY DORKS! ME! THEY’RE ME! ENTER THEIR NEMESIS IN A SILVER VELVET SPACE WITCH CROP TOP, THAT I WANT ON MY BODY IMMEDIATELY. They sit in a MAGIC FRIEND CIRCLE and the power of four best friends holding hands levitates them all, LIGHT AS A FEATHER, STIFF AS A BOARD!!!! PERRIE DYES HER HAIR PURPLE WITH HER HANDS, THE GREATEST MAGIC POWER FOR A POP PRINCESS! Instead of making their antagonist ugly or doing anything cruel, they hexed her with FARTS! Farts! It’s so INNOCENT and FUN! They help out a kin nerd boy not by making him into a jock but just by making him inexplicably attractive just the way he was! They’re never mean! The black magic is fueled by FRIENDSHIP and CONFIDENCE and BELIEVING IN YOURSELF! They use their powers to have a DANCE PARTY! When they get hot outfits JADE IS STILL DRESSED LIKE A NERD! Just like, a more put-together nerd! Our heroines are 4 good witches with hearts of gold and everything is fun & fart jokes! And at the end of the day, it’s still a song about how your pussy tastes so good that it’s a secret potion to make boys fall in love with you, so like, sold, sold, eternally sold.

CAROLINE: When I saw the cover for “Black Magic” I felt like I was looking at “Wings” Little Mix rather than “Salute” Little Mix. This song is an 80s bop, Go-Go’s “Vacation” & everything attributed to Cyndi Lauper & I experienced the terrible chill of what-if-I-don’t-like-this because I actually hate the 80s, even more when I’m expecting the 90s but I should know better than to doubt Little Mix or what’s more, my love for Little Mix. Song-wise, I’m happy with all the tiny witch references – I know they cited The Craft & there are actual parallels (the light as a feather, stiff as a board scene in Bonnie’s bedroom & the scene in Nancy’s new apartment where Sarah changes her hair color) but the vibe of The Craft isn’t there. There’s no darkness, an actual lack of black magic. This song & this video are witch-lite, Teen Witch & it is so cute & it is so Little Mix. There’s so much flounce & snap & girls holding hands & glitter & I’m choosing not to be upset about it because honestly, I would watch this movie. I have watched this movie.

I feared that the video would introduce them as typically dorky, a pack of losers (which sorry, I cannot buy, look at Leigh-Anne!) & that the spell would change them (their appearance) rather than influence those judging them but I hoped that they would remain unpopular & the spell would impact everyone else – like the guy being made fun of in the hallway; the guy doesn’t change but the girls making fun of him, after the effects of the spell, flock him, a textbook love spell. I feel it is uncharacteristically Little Mix to change the girl rather than change her surroundings. The song doesn’t imply anything that takes place within the plot of the video – the boy, according to the lyrics, feels the effect of the potion – full of honey just to make him sweet, crystal balling just to help him see what he’s been missing. The spell alters (improves) the boy in response to what the girl wants, it doesn’t “fix” something about the girl in order to make her appeal more to the boy – if you’re looking for Mr. Right, need that magic to change him overnight. Change him, not change yourself because you think that’s what he wants. “Black Magic” serves the girl. I guess the true service to the girl would be to convince her that she shouldn’t waste her time on a guy that can’t see what he’s missing (“Boy,” hello) but there is something sweetly manipulative & “mama knows best” about poisoning a boy to make him like you, as well as helping all the girls in the neighborhood do the same & maybe that’s the black magic part I felt was missing. Lyrically, the song is Little Mix, girls helping girls, but the video is almost the anti-Little Mix. I’m sure it could be argued that their change in appearance is some sort of newly found confidence or just some sort of natural glow from the magic (?) but mostly it reads as changing to please others, like Fern in Jawbreaker. I do think it should be said though that boy with ponytail is not end game, no boy is really end game. Sparkly Little Mix is. I’m only slightly deflated because it seems like they would/should see how the video reads & how it doesn’t honor the lyrics or what Little Mix has forever been about. I’m letting the lyrics lead me rather than the visuals attached to them. I know it seems like I’m not holding them accountable but ultimately they did not make the video, I doubt they even wrote the treatment but they did write the lyrics & the lyrics sound like Little Mix.

KENZIE: Here’s the thing about this video. I love the “Salute” video. I love The Craft. Little Mix making a video for a song called “Black Magic” that is supposedly inspired by The Craft? I was so, so excited. I had high hopes. And… I’m disappointed. I love the song. I’ve been listening to the song a lot since it leaked, honestly; glittery pop friendship, this is the soundtrack to a convertible driving around California with its top down, magicked to be able to fit all the witchsong writers, all of us in vaguely coordinating sunglasses/accessories. The sound of it is so good, so fun. It’s simple, yeah, and I doubt I’ll be listening to it all summer, but still– fun! Happy! Bubbly! Lyrically, it leaves a little to be desired. I was afraid the first time I heard it that the video was going to be some beautiful-nerdy-girl-in-glasses-takes-off-her-glasses-to-become-a-bombshell thing, and I only got more scared when I saw the first pictures from it. And, well, yeah. That’s exactly what it is. Beautiful girls dressed in adorable “nerdy” outfits with glasses, that we’re supposed to believe boys totally ignore, discover magic and use it to embarrass another girl in front of her boyfriend, change their appearances, and get attention. I don’t know. Some of the moments are so cute, so perfect; the four of them learning the magic together, how beautiful and adorable they look at every moment in the video. Jesy in every single thing she does. But the video just doesn’t sit right with me, really, when you get down to it. I’m sorry! I’m sorry. I like the song; you can keep the video. Watch “Salute” instead a few times and then listen to “Black Magic” on repeat.

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