Yeah, it's really interesting visually. They have one black woman in the video, so she's there for Nelly's gaze, because he better not be gazing at the white women that way.
But also vice versa, right? There can be only one, because the white guys can't be looking at her either…
Exactly. In reverse. They have the exact right number of white women for the band, and the exact right number of black women for Nelly. I find that fascinating.
There's an interesting contrast in the video for the Danity Kane song "Ride for You," where they're very careful to have integrated couples.
Which is fascinating. Because the gender dynamics—the band is comprised of women. It's like women need to be more open, whereas it's more rigid for men. And then you also have the genre difference.
Country seems like it wants to be integrated to some degree, but only to some degree.
Yes; because for Florida Georgia Line, it's party music. And what tends to come with parties and young people is usually some kind of sexual tension. And they want to be very careful about shaping where they think that sexual tension is going to go. I think crossing over in that way is still something country could not do, visually or lyrically.
I think it goes back to country being fundamentally about a better, simpler time. And that's always a nostalgic feeling, about a better past. So even when the music is about fun, and isn't on the surface about the past, the genre is about that. And for white people a lot of talking about the good old times is talking about a pre-integration time a pre-Civil Rights time, a time before interracial dating was common. So they've got to walk a fine line there between holding up the nostalgia of the genre and tapping into the youth culture. And I think that's the dance they're trying to do. And to tell you the truth, while the music itself may be questionable, visually Florida Georgia Line is nailing it. They have just enough of each of those elements to stay legitimate.
Since that particular crossover is so built on the male gaze, I wondered if there could be a female hick-hop performer. And then I wondered if Miley Cyrus's recent performances could be seen as a kind of hick hop?
That's a great question. Because she's country royalty in a way, so it certainly could be read as hick hop. Even if she's not doing it musically, there is something in the way she's playing with images which is exactly what Florida Georgia Line does, except she takes it a step further—which may be gender or may be because she's pop. But she herself is trying to perform being the black artist in a way that Florida Georgia Line, the boys in that band, aren't. They still have that rock country look—the tats and the jewelry and the hair. So they're not trying to perform hip-hop the look, whereas Miley Cyrus is absolutely trying to perform as what she sees as a black artist.