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Music Video

David Guetta's "Play Hard" video is a treasure trove of high-art influence

By Ken Taylor
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Maybe it’s not the first thing you’d expect for a video whose track yanks liberally from Alice DeeJay’s “Better Off Alone,” but David Guetta’s new clip for his collab with Akon and Ne-Yo, “Play Hard,” is a pretty stunning conflagration of high-art references. Director Andreas Nilsson plays with a number of different Mexican cultural references, but there may be a few other filmic touchstones at work here as well. Here’s a handful of things we spotted:

Aki Kaurismaki’s Leningrad Cowboys Go America

Probably the biggest point of contention in “Play Hard” is the style of pointy boots worn by the video’s cowboys, which, to us, are a hat-tip to Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki’s classic cult film Leningrad Cowboys Go America. (But, as a reader, um, pointed out to us in the comments below, are more than likely just a reference to a 3BallMTY video.)


Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut

You’ll quickly note the old lady in the beginning of “Play Hard” sporting a mask not terribly different from those worn by lucha libre wrestlers—or those worn in Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut. We’re just gonna use the image here, but if you wanna watch the NSFW Kubrick clip, come on in.


Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 2

Visual artist and Bjork’s partner Matthew Barney is a big sports fan, and it’s well-documented through much of his work. The second part of his Cremaster series seems a good jumping-off point for Gavras’ references to the surreality of large sporting events—and here Gavras highlights the odd spectacle of rodeos.


Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers

It may just be a coincidence, since Spring Breakers only recently hit the big screen, but a couple of elements in “Play Hard” bear some resemblance to the film’s Popsicle-tonguing scene and another montage in which scantily clad girls cruise around on motorcycles of ATVs in slo-mo. It’s also arguable that the high-key shots of beauty queens and upper-crust homes nod in the direction of Lauren Greenfield’s documentary photography.




What else?
A David Lynch-esque storyline? David LaChapelle-like blown-out color saturation? A Spike Jonze something-or-other? What else can you spot? Check out the whole clip for “Play Hard” below, and grab the single when it lands on May 19.

**UPDATED 4/25: The original intro text incorrectly stated that “Play Hard”‘s director was Romain Gavras. It has been changed to reflect that correction.