About 20 seconds into Maroon 5 and SZA’s new video for “What Lovers Do,” flashbacks of past Taylor Swift videos begin appearing. This is not a coincidence. Joseph Kahn is the man behind every big-budget Taylor Swift video for the past four years and has now teamed up with Adam Levine and co. It would appear the famed director’s penchant for big-budget videos and blockbuster special effects isn’t limited to Swift.
Opening with a summery steel drum intro, the video kicks off with younger versions of Levine and SZA running through what looks like the Australian outback. Giant trees spring up from the ground and Levine’s vocals are taken over by local flora and fauna, including a deer and a sunflower, which looks as weird as you would think it would. As the pair begin to climb a skyscraper of a tree in a special effects overload, Levine’s younger self encounters a bee’s nest, giving viewers an unwelcomed My Girl flashback as the frontman falls to the ground and slams himself into present day.
The rest of the video continues in a nonsensical series of events that are tied together by out of this world scenarios and stunning visual imagery. All five members of Maroon 5 chase SZA around a track and field loop, with a line of tanks in the center. Levine and SZA ride jet skis that turn into surfboards before traveling underwater, where SZA turns into a mermaid. What’s happening? How are these series of shots connected? Is this what lovers do?
The pair eventually find themselves at a poker table in Las Vegas, where SZA’s winning hand causes Levine to become so outraged that he turns into a 30-foot man and begins stomping on Sin City, finally grabbing SZA in the palm of his hand, King Kong-style.
The closing shot finds a badly bruised and injured Levine laying in a hospital bed, where his hot nurse SZA checks in on him. We’re assuming the scene represents the closest thing will get to an explanation on the video, which is that Levine had a painkiller-induced dream. Much like the bands “Cold” video, which was released earlier this year and set in an outrageous house party that was explained at the end by Levine chalking up the night to an acid trip, the odd and confusing series of events is simply explained as a dream. It’s definitely a letdown to not have more of a payoff to close what is otherwise a visually impressive and compelling music video, but it sure was fun to watch.
So, instead of trying to figure out if there’s a bigger meaning to “What Lovers Do,” just enjoy a really entertaining video with a super catchy song.