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Today, Mariah Carey released a brand new music video for her single Infinity and in it, she uses the popular dating site Match.com to look for a new beau. Possible suitors included supermodel Tyson Beckford and Empire star Jussie Smollett and while the winner appeared to be the cute little puppy Carey takes from Smollett, the real winner here is actually Match.com.
As a result of their partnership, Carey agreed to do a product placement in her video (and even created a real profile to promote the video), but instead of a mere appearance like the million times we’ve spotted a Beats Pill Speaker, dating websites have curbed music videos to their advantage. Instead of a small role, it becomes the main plot.
Yes, Carey is seen performing and embracing fans in other shots, but the main driving plot behind Infinity becomes Carey’s search for a new man with the help of Match.com. Suddenly, we have a full-blown commercial. In place of stock footage of couples strolling on the beach and meeting up for coffee, dating sites like Match.com and Tinder have upped their commercial game and are aiming for more famous faces to represent their brand, thus the new hybrid of music video slash dating site ad.
Another example, and even more blatant ad opportunity, was Hilary Duff’s latest offering for her comeback single, Sparks. The original version, released last month, was met with a lot of criticism for its focus on selling the dating app Tinder instead of, oh I don’t know, selling the music? TIME gave the most straight-up headline of them all: “Hilary Duff’s Music Video For ‘Sparks’ Is Basically A Tinder Ad”
Duff’s video was interspersed with testimonial-like footage of Duff hanging out with friends, chatting about searching for romantic connections and finding that “spark” (we see what you did there) and how Tinder is helping the newly-single Duff get back into the dating game. As the video progresses, we even see Duff go on these Tinder dates. Fans were in such outrage that Duff bucked to the demands of fans who wanted to see an alternative version of the music video just featuring Duff doing choreography and rockin’ that new blue hair. That video was much, MUCH better.
There are of course plenty more examples of dating site partnerships with musicians: Plenty Of Fish notoriously flooded music videos about four years ago, appearing in videos by Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Ke$ha (most recently, it appeared in Meghan Trainor’s Dear Future Husband), while Jason Derulo premiered his video for Want You To Want Me on Tinder.
“I wanted to find a new unique way to launch my video,” Derulo said in a statement. “I know my fans are tapped into social networking so what better way to launch my video for Want You To Want Me than through one of the fastest rising social networking apps, Tinder.”
For dating sites to not-so-subtly gain temporary spokespeople in musicians is a smart way to up their already ubiquitous profile. Music videos are capable of selling almost anything and artists are often romanticized and idolized that, when given the opportunity to sell romance or the idea of romance in the form of a dating app, fans would eat it up instantly. Jason Derulo and Hilary Duff are using Tinder? Then it’s definitely cool enough for me to use!
[From Britney Spears’ Hold It Against Me music video]
And there’s even a common thread in many of these artists that these dating sites and apps are targeting: single artists who have a well-known romantic history in the tabloids. Hilary Duff’s breakup with Mike Comrie was well documented by tabloids, as was Jason Derulo’s breakup with Jordin Sparks, and Mariah Carey’s divorce from Nick Cannon. These are stories that we are familiar with, ones that we may feel inclined to follow and so when these artists continue to tell their stories through incorporating these apps into their music videos, we naturally follow.
There’s always been a blurring of the lines between music videos and commercialism, it’s nothing new, but one must wonder at what point the scales will tip over and we’re just watching four-minute long commercials that just happen to have new music by our fave artists. What do you remember more: the song or the product placement?