If there is a single person in America who thought “Hmm, D’Angelo’s astonishingly sexy video for ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel?)’ could really be improved if it instead starred the white, ectomorphic frontman of a Las Vegas emo band,” please come forward.
It’s hard to tell the precise ratio of irony, homage, self-regard and self-deprecation in Panic! at the Disco’s new clip for “Girls/Girls/Boys.” It’s a shot-for-shot remake of the classic D’Angelo video that was so hot it almost sabotaged his career.
Even if singer Brendon Urie doesn’t quite have the abs of the original - and his electro-punk tune is diametrically opposed to D’s slow-jam croon - he certainly makes a committed go of re-creating it.
But why, exactly, does this clip feel so weird? Is it the fact that Urie is just good looking enough to feel confident that he can pull this off, which makes it kind of creepy as opposed to ironic? Is it a last vestige of white-rocker-guy culture that feels commercial R&B is inherently ripe for jokes?
Even though this is a thoroughly dedicated homage, and Urie says in a release that the original is “one of the sexiest videos of all time, which also happens to be one of my favorites, there’s just enough weird race and genre subtext bubbling underneath to make this video land in the most uncomfortable position possible.
It’s not quite a laugh, not quite sexy, too awkward to be genuine yet too earnest to be playful. So in recompense, here’s a palate cleanser in the meantime.