Do You Understand What Dawn Is Doing In Her Video For ’86?

51UHToJ3-nL._SL500_AA300_Have you seen Dawn Richard’s video for her single ’86? She put it out along with her debut album GOLDENHEART release (purchase here). And the video is a bit … weird. A lot of the imagery is meant to represent important things from her past including Danity Kane, her childhood, and New Orleans, but if you aren’t paying attention, you definitely would have no idea what was going on. Here is how Dawn explains it:

“We’re using all the things in my past that people may view as negative as a catalyst to be inspiring—to fight for something.”

Honestly, I’ve watched this video a couple of times, and I am struggling to find any semblance of cohesiveness. It starts by displaying the title “Chapter One: The Proof Was In The Flood”, so we know right off the bat that this is just the first in a series of videos. And once Dawn appears, I’m not sure if she is supposed to be an Amazonian princess, a Native American prisoner, or futuristic wind goddess a la Storm of the X-Men (complete with command of the wind). Or some cross of all of them. She had Danity Kane stand-ins positioned around a bed of logs pointing in a bunch of directions. Then a childhood version of Dawn gets hugs from her parents. Somehow this leads into Dawn giving herself (in a different outfit) some type of metal heart (at least it appears that way … the ‘other’ Dawn holds up a handful of leaves in return).

Then all of a sudden, Dawn is being engaged in battle by a medieval looking man. But it’s not your standard fight; they trade blows while also dancing in tandem. Once she finishes off the man, a similarly dressed woman arrives and she engages her in another bout of dance-fighting. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that these two people are supposed to be her former band members from Dirty Money (P Diddy and Kalenna). Just a hunch.

She then touches hands with her younger self, takes a studded leather mask and chainmail coif (I had to Google that one) off of the dude she just beat up, and walks through the forest until she stops and stares at a castle far in the distance. As she stands and stares, she breathes deeply, so you know she’s been walking for hecka long.

I can only guess that this video is supposed to symbolize some type of quest that Dawn is on in her career and in her life. I see that Danity Kane and her family are ushering her toward her destiny. She’s fighting past all of the mess that was Dirty Money. She’s headed to the promised land. Well, that’s the best that I can make out of it.

Clearly, I count myself among those in Dawn’s list of growing fans. I highlighted her in my series The Music You Should Be Listening To. And as I noted in that post, Dawn has a penchant for the highly creative. So I understand the liberties that she takes with her videos. But isn’t the goal to entertain and not alienate? Don’t you want to increase your fanbase? You want to set yourself apart, but you don’t want to leave the viewers lost.

All that being said, we should reserve some of our judgment until all of her planned videos are released. After all, we are only seeing the first part of a story, right? And if the beginning of a story is meant to grab your interest, Dawn has got mine.

Peep the behind the scenes vid here.

So what is your take on the video? See something I missed or make sense out of some of her setups? Hate it or love it? Sound off in the comments section below.

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.