Normani. Picture: Instagram
Normani. Picture: Instagram

Normani - a singer who is truly worth it

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Aug 26, 2019

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Have you seen the music video of Normani’s new song, Motivation? 

It’s an unapologetic statement that says: “Hello, girls. I’m Normani and I want you to respect me.” 

It left me saying, “it’s about time”, because Normani has been deserving of all the respect the music industry, awards bodies and music fans have not given her.

If you haven’t seen it, allow me to illustrate.

It opens with a black tween girl watching BET’s now cancelled music show, 106 & Park, with her grandmother in the background. It’s clearly the early to mid-’00s because the show is hosted by Terrence J and Rocsi Diaz. 

As they introduce the video, the girl imagines it’s about her and she starts dancing. Her grandmother encourages her, saying: “Do your thing girl”. And then we cut to the video of Normani in a skimpy white vest and denim hotpants, whipping her hair à la Beyoncé in the "Crazy In Love" video. 

We are transported back to the early ’00s. Normani and her girls are chilling by a pavement, dancing, while a topless guy walks by to his girlfriend and he can’t help but looking back at Normani and her friends. 

Watch the "Motivation" music video below:

And then it’s just the most impressive dancing in a music video since Ciara’s "Work" with Missy Elliott. There are a couple of scenes where Normani shows just how much of a brilliant dancer she is and possibly up there with the likes of Beyoncé, Ciara, Kelly Rowland and Janet Jackson. 

The references to the aforementioned musicians cannot be denied and it’s possibly why we have fallen in love with the song and Normani – she realised that in order to get to the top, she needed to pay her respects to those who came before her. And also because we are all nostalgic for the pop music videos with great dancing.

The video is a homage to the pop excellence of the late ’90s and early ’00s where pop stars gave us great music and choreography. 

Stars like Beyoncé, Janet, Britney Spears, Missy Elliott, Jennifer Lopez and even Christina Aguilera knew the power of having great choreography in their songs. That’s what drove pop music and we all wanted our favourite pop stars to sing, dance really well and actually look like a pop star.

And that’s what Normani is. A modern pop star who understands what made pop music such an important genre. 

Normani Kordei Hamilton is a former member of Fifth Harmony, the girl group formed by Simon Cowell’s The X-Factor USA. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Houston, Texas. 

Put together by Cowell, Fifth Harmony had a bit of success, but sadly did not have the impact they thought they would. While popular with the younger music fans who watched the group at infancy and it being formed on the show, they didn’t get to the kind of success of Destiny’s Child, TLC or even the Pussycat Dolls.

And yet when you looked at the group, there were those who were undeniable stars – Camila Cabello and Normani. 

The first time Normani caught my attention as a solo artist was during last year’s Billboard Music Awards with Khalid where they were performing their hit song, Love Lies. Her entrance on stage to sing her verse, saw her show us her sultry dance moves, which included a dance break that saw her do some acrobatic moves that Olympic gymnast, Simone Biles would be proud of. It left many with their jaws on the floor. 

From there it was clear – she was a star. 

The collaborations with Khalid, Calvin Harris (Slow Down, Checklist) Sam Smith (Dancing with a Stranger) and Davido and Quavo (Swing) were appetisers to her solo music, while also showing her versatility as a musician. It was a strategic move on her part – testing the waters before she had to release her own music. Each track proved that she has the dance moves, vocals and most importantly, the fan base to support her. 

Watch the "Dancing With A Stranger" music video below:

Motivation (co-written with Ariana Grande) is like watching a child who has amazing potential, finally realise just how much talent they have and unleashing it on us. And even with the backlash from those who want her to do R&B instead of pop music (and former group member, Cabello’s fan base), she’s still at the precipice of music stardom. 

MTV has roped her in to perform at the Video Music Awards on Monday (Tuesday CAT at 2am) after realising just how big the song is likely to be. 

Plus they know her performance will likely be one of the most talked about at the awards ceremony.

World, it’s time to give Normani the respect she deserves. Even Beyoncé agrees.

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