Since the girl group went their separate ways last year, Normani has been keeping fans interested with a few select releases, including collaborations with Khalid, Calvin Harris and Sam Smith, but with Motivation, she proves that she can really shine all by herself.
While the song – co-written by Ariana Grande, who she supported on tour this year – is a sparkly earworm, the video takes things to the next level, with Normani serving us looks and truly impressive choreography.
It’s also a true nostalgia-fest, opening with a child Normani watching BET’s 106 & Park, before the grown-up singer takes us through a series of scenes that pay homage to great music videos from the 2000s and late 1990s that have inspired her as an artist.
Here are the biggest references in Normani’s Motivation music video...
It’s not difficult to imagine why Normani would want to pay homage to Beyoncé as she launches her solo career after a career in a successful girl group, but she’s actually spoken numerous times about how the Formation singer is her “queen” and “idol”.
Beyoncé has actually been one of Normani’s champions, too, with the ex-Fifth Harmony star detailing a meeting between the two of them at a Roc Nation brunch last year.
“She didn’t even give me a chance to even introduce myself,” Normani said. “She looks at me and she goes, ‘oh my gosh, I’ve been waiting so long to meet you… you keep doing your thing, I’m really proud of you, I’m watching you’.”
Also, it says a lot about Beyoncé’s star power that a literal white vest top, probably the plainest of all garments, is still an obvious reference to her.
A later scene in the video shows Normani performing in a basketball court, in what many have interpreted as a nod to Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule’s remix of her track I’m Real, a staple of both TRL and 106 & Park back in those halcyon days of the early 1990s.
And speaking of that basketball court scene, can we please just take a moment to appreciate Normani’s absolute skills…
Of course, another famous music video with a dance section set on a basketball court is Britney’s 1998 debut, ...Baby One More Time.
While it’s the schoolgirl outfit that really stuck in people’s mind, we were immediately put in mind of Britney in her bunches and pink crop-top when we saw Normani dancing on the court.
Normani has also previously admitted she’s a fan of both Britney and this song, while both ...Baby One More Time and Motivation were both co-written by pop superproducer Max Martin, albeit more than 20 years apart. Britney was also a judge on X Factor when Normani first auditioned, before the formation of Fifth Harmony.
The final sequence of the Motivation music video sees Normani dancing with a male dancer (and a troupe of dancers) in a suburban street at night time, putting us immediately in mind of the last scene in Nelly and Kelly Rowland’s 2002 duet Dilemma.
And as it turns out, we weren’t the only ones picking up on that reference...
Similarly to her love of Beyoncé, Normani has long been a fan of Kelly’s, excitingly tweeting about having met her in the early years of Fifth Harmony back in 2013…
Those exterior dancing shots also remind viewers of Ciara’s early videos, when the R&B star first broke onto the scene in the early 2000s.
1, 2 Step and Goodies are both being named by both Ciara and Normani’s fans as potential influences, thanks to her 2000s aesthetic, her flawless choreography and the sequence that shows her dancing in the rain.
Even Ciara herself seems impressed with the tribute, tweeting a link to Motivation with the message: “Dope! Get it mama.”
One influence that we’re surprised we haven’t seen more people talking about on Motivation is Christina Aguilera.
During the sequence that shows Normani and her girls on a sunny street, paying no attention as a rather buff gentleman struts past, very much put us in mind of Xtina and Lil Kim’s female empowerment anthem, Can’t Hold Us Down.
Like Kelly Rowland, Normani also revealed she was a Christina fan during the early days of Fifth Harmony…
Perhaps one of the lesser-known videos referenced in Motivation – at least here in the UK – a lot of fans have pointed out the parallels between Normani dancing with a man in the street to similar scenes in Omarion’s 2004 clip for his song Touch.
Many have noticed that the song was another 106 & Park staple, meaning it completely fits the rest of the video’s vibe.