Telephone part two! Dusk Till Dawn, again! Why video sequels aren’t worth the wait

The second part of Zayn’s cinematic video series has arrived - but given our deteriorating attention spans, why do artists expect us to wait six months for something we’ve already forgotten?

It is no secret pop stars love starring in their own music videos. And if your record company is stumping up the cash for you to be a movie star for a day, why not? Let the person who has never dramatically acted out a song while alone in the house cast the first stone. But now there’s a worrying trend emerging – the music video sequel. For the last month Zayn has been teasing Let Me, his follow-up to Dusk Till Dawn, which features many lingering shots of him “acting” (looking hot). Honestly, though, does anyone remember what happened at the end of the first video way back in September 2017, let alone care about a second one? Pop videos are supposed to be a story told in four minutes, and so it’s hard to get emotionally invested in a plot where you have to wait ages to find out the conclusion.

It’s not just Zayn; lots of artists have attempted video sequels, none with memorable results. There’s the Black Eyed Peas’ Imma Be and Rock That Body, where the band get into a dance-off with just-different-enough-to-not-get-sued-by-Hasbro Transformers. And Usher’s Moving Mountains follows Love in This Club – although “Usher pursues woman trying to get laid” is a storyline that, with careful editing, could probably fit into just one video. Limp Bizkit’s Nookie, Re-Arranged and N 2 Gether Now have an ambitious narrative running through them in which Fred Durst gets arrested, imprisoned, drowns and goes to heaven.

Lady Gaga also loves a sequel: Million Reasons picks up at the moment Perfect Illusion ended, with John Wayne as the final chapter. But don’t get too invested: her Beyoncé-featuring Telephone video ended with “to be continued…” and we’re still waiting eight years later. Could a sequel, possibly based around another outmoded form of communication (fax machine? Blackberry Messenger?) ever live up to the hype? Or would it be better for everyone – especially the fans who still beg for a sequel on Twitter – if Honey B and Gaga had just driven the Pussy Wagon off a cliff, Thelma and Louise-style?

Madonna’s You’ll See and sequel Take A Bow, meanwhile, are probably the most successful attempt – mainly because the ballads are incredible, not because anyone was desperate to find out what happened to Madge and the sexy bullfighter.

The problem is, music video sequels have never really taken off as a concept because no one cares enough to follow a story across multiple videos stretched out over months or even years. In 2018 – when we’re so impatient that Netflix has a “skip title sequence” function – why would artists expect us to wait six months for a sequel? Sorry Zayn, music video sequels just don’t work, even if you look really, really handsome.


Issy Sampson

The GuardianTramp

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