19 Jul 2021
Normani is Back to Show Us Her ‘Wild Side’
July 2021 can as well be proclaimed a ‘Normani month’, as the whole music industry can’t get enough of her latest work – much anticipated “Wild Side” featuring Cardi B.
It’s been 2 years since we’ve seen Normani releasing a single. In 2019, her first solo song ‘Motivation’ became platinum in the US and took worldwide music charts by storm, ranking as one of the best records of the year. Now, “Wild Side” is making history with its impeccable vocals, sensual lyrics, and stunning visuals of the accompanying music video.
Normani dropped a teaser for “Wild Side” in February, 2021, only to unveil the artwork for the single in June – the singer was beautifully portrayed alongside another music icon of our time, Cardi B. To promote the single, both of them went live on Instagram ten minutes before “Wild Side” was published on all streaming services, including YouTube. Warming up the anticipation for the video, Normani referred to it as ‘a piece of art’ that serves a great range of visuals, also mentioning that “Wild Side” is a ‘level up’ in her career:
‘This is my favorite song. And I think that from ‘Motivation’ alone you can hear the growth: sonically, lyrically – definitely, visually. I think there's gonna be a shot for everybody.’
Sean Bankhead, Normani’s choreographer for “Wild Side”, joined her during the live, praising Normani’s hard work and dedication. ‘We had a lot of things that we wanted to try, that took time’, said Sean. ‘And I’m glad that we took that time to try it and execute it properly.’
No wonder that social media exploded right after the song was released. Normani’s Twitter is currently being flooded with tweets of adoration and admiration from her fans. Tik Tok is getting loaded with videos of people trying to repeat “Wild Side” choreo, and YouTubers are busy shooting their reaction videos while watching Normani & Cardi B’s collaboration piece.
If you watch those reactions, you’ll see what they all have in common: everybody’s jaws start dropping from the very first seconds of the video. There are multiple reasons for that. First, Normani’s sex appeal is being transmitted through the screen, amplified by the juicy bass of Aaliyah’s “One in a Million” sample. Through the beat, multiple outfit and backdrop changes, Normani is paying homage to great artists of the early ‘00s: TLC, Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot. Her rhinestone ensemble in the mirror scene takes us straight to “Snake Dance” from the 1959 movie “Indian Tomb”, dazzling viewers with a seductive dance number, where all of a sudden Normani gets company in the form of her doppelganger. Fans and critics are still decoding the video in search of more allusions that might be hidden in the details of the moves, clothes, and props.
Second reason is in Cardi B’s signature flair that just magnifies the sensual aesthetics of “Wild Side”. She appears for her verse in a true Cardi B fashion: rapping directly and upfront about her sexual desires. She and Normani are nude, only covering themselves with each other and gorgeous long hair, delivering on those vocals and visual appeal like nobody else can. The appreciation for this section only grows with the understanding that Cardi B was pregnant during the shoot. We can only admire her commitment to work and the mastery to show off her body while hiding a baby bump.
This is not the first time Normani and Cardi share the screen. Previously, Normani made a cameo in “WAP” music video featuring Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, together with Kylie Jenner and singer Rosalia. This time, two singers came together to put out a full-on collaboration project, with Cardi B hopping on track when the video was already in rehearsals. During her interviews, Normani mentioned Cardi’s prowess in writing, that she delivered her verse straight away, with Cardi sharing the details of her own:
During the Instagram live, Normani and Sean Bankhead mentioned that the video for “Wild Side” took a significant amount of time. They spent over 3 weeks for rehearsals and paid an enormous amount of attention to every detail during editing.
The whole production and post-production team of “Wild Side” had about 100 people, including director Tanu Muino and executive producers Frank and Ivanna Borin. It is worth mentioning that most of the team had common projects at some point in the past. Tanu Muino previously worked with Cardi B on her critically acclaimed music video “Up”. Sean Bankhead has been choreographing dance numbers for Normani since her Fifth Harmony days. Max Colt and his VFX team collaborated with Normani on her “Waves” music video in 2018. It comes as no surprise that “Wild Side” is breaking the internet right now – it has gathered the best production talent from previous projects under one roof.
Tanu Muino, director:
‘Normani is extremely hard working, I was stunned by her energy and dedication to what she does. She is also an incredible dancer, it seems like there’s no style or dance trick she can’t perform. We spent around 2 weeks on Zoom calls discussing our vision for the video, and then I came to LA for rehearsals and location scouting just 2 weeks before the shoot. A big shout out to our choreographer Sean Bankhead, he’s done an amazing job for this project.’
Sean Bankhead, choreographer:
‘We really took our time with this video and spent almost a month preparing the whole thing. I was nervous about the section where Normani is gliding on the floor with other dancers, I didn’t want the audience to see her wearing knee pads. She was in a revealing, sexy outfit, so the team found a way to clean up the pads during post-production. I was quite relieved.‘
Nikita Kuzmenko, director of photography:
‘We used Arri Alexa Mini and Panavision Primo lenses. For Cardi’s section our crane operator @christianhurley05 chose Spertechno 45 with Alpha stabilized head from Telescopic Camera Cranes. The mirror scene, where Normani was supposed to dance with her twin, was one of the most difficult ones to shoot. The thing is, we had to capture the plates right and clean, so that we could do a face swap in post-production. But it is difficult when the artists and the camera are constantly moving.’
Spenser Graves, art department:
‘I worked with Cardi B on her “Up” video, so I was excited to hop on this project. I found an old abandoned helicopter cabin, and we cleaned it up for the shoot. The VFX team from Frender attached blades to it during post-production, changed the texture of it, and even added lights in it. I was pretty impressed when I saw the final product.
When the director told us she wanted to pour water on Normani and Cardi, we had to adjust the stand, because we knew it wouldn’t hold the whole weight. We had to use plastic chains, but they ended up floating on the surface of the pool. Fortunately, post-production cleaned them all.
My personal favorite is the red room section. Looks so chic!’
Max Colt, VFX supervisor:
‘It was a challenge for us. We had limited time and a lot of work to do: around 150 VFX shots to go over, let alone face swap, knee pads erasure. But this is our second project with Normani – we worked on her music video “Waves” which got an award for the Best R&B Video on MTV VMA 2018. So we were happy to get together with her again. Our before-and-after we out on our website as usually This time we also invited our friends from Digital Beauty Work to collaborate with us on post-production.’