I very much enjoy the fact that Jennifer Lopez has returned to the pop premier league on a tidal wave of towering ridiculousness. Following up a hit as utterly ludicrous as the lambada-sampling On The Floor was always going to be a big ask, and her last single I’m Into You was a disappointingly straight faced affair. Thankfully she’s taken things up a few notches for her latest effort. Papi was already a fairly ridiculous song – it wouldn’t sound entirely out of place being performed by an Eastern European pop princess/gangster’s moll at the Eurovision Song Contest. In fact it would probably win.
The old J.Lo probably would have been content to spend the video throwing herself around next to some rappers, possibly intercut with shots of her carrying some shopping bags through The Bronx to remind us all how real she is. The new J.Lo, however, has a far grander artistic vision. Maybe it’s the terrified hunger of being back on top after years in the wilderness. Maybe after four husbands and twelve years of peddling hummable but instantly forgettable hits, she just doesn’t give a damn anymore. Maybe the unholy combination of skincare products, macrobiotic foods and thetan readings that keep her ostensibly 42 year old body in such alarmingly good nick has sent her slightly barmy. Whatever the reason, the Papi is a fabulously entertaining train wreck. A good 50% of it is still given over to so much utterly shameless product placement that the final product looks like a mix between the sort of wacky supernatural rom-com she might have starred in back in 2002 and the Canyonero advert from the Simpsons. But hey, that’s just the way Jenny rolls. She’s the Krusty the Clown of Pop, and I don’t think I’d want her any other way.
My favourite things about this epic moment in pop history.
1. Jenny’s spectacularly poor acting throughout. This woman has been in actual films.
2. The concierge who appears to moonlight as a witch doctor (or is it the other way round?)
3. Product placement literally involving the camera cutting away from the action and focusing on random products for up to 30 seconds at a time.
4. Cars crashing on the first beat of the chorus. Seriously, that is cool.
5. J.Lo hits a guy with her car. He doesn’t get up. She drives on with a flick of the hair. I wonder if Halle Berry will ever see this video?
6. As per every pop video set in a US City ever, a fire hydrant is set off. You’d think J.Lo would then writh around under it until her clothes go all translucent, but the hydrant is never seen again. MISDIRECTION! It’s better than Hitchcock.
7. A gang of sex-crazed men drag Jenny out of her sunroof by the arms and advance on her menacingly, causing the viewer to briefly wonder if the video is about to take a particularly dark turn.
8. It’s OK, they just want to dance around her like theyt’re auditioning for Rent. Maybe there’s a rumour that she knows a guy who knows a guy.
9. Eventually they figure out she’s not going to cast any of them, and prepare to fling her to a messy death in oncoming traffic.
10. John Hamm out of Mad Men turns up to save the day. The spell is over and all is well. The end.