Throwback Thursday: India.Arie – “Video”
The year was 2001 and we were in the thick of Britney-mania. And if you looked elsewhere in the industry, you’d see the likes of Destiny’s Child and Jennifer Lopez shutting shit down. The music industry is famously superficial, but 2001 was special. So many of the women ruling the charts had zero musical talent, which played directly to the worst stereotypes about women — particularly beautiful women — in music. As a matter of fact, J-Lo wasn’t even singing the choruses on her own songs, but that’s another conversation for another day.
As you can imagine, the surplus of beautiful women with questionable musical abilities created an opening for an “earthy” type. Cue India.Arie.
As most people idolized Britney & co. for their looks, India.Arie released “Video,” a song that was boldly defiant of societal pressure and celebratory of imperfection.
The song was a moderate hit, but its impact was indelible. The following year at the Grammys, India.Arie received seven nominations off the strength of that one song — because the Recording Academy can’t resist a black woman in dreads. Ask Tracy and Lauryn.
Unfortunately for India.Arie, she debuted the same year as Alicia Keys, who had similar appeal as well as the backing of the Clive Davis infrastructure. Come
Grammy time, India.Arie would lose five of her seven noms to Alicia and the other two to U2 and the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Cold world.
In the years since, India.Arie has won multiple Grammys and “Video” remains an anthem for self-love. All is well.