When stars collide — exploring the phenomenon of celebrity cameos in music videos

Olivia Staser/Staff

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If you are in the mood for some new indie music, –– or just are a die-hard “Twilight” fan –– turn off the bright lights and tune into Interpol’s newest music video featuring Kristen Stewart and Finn Wittrock. A day before the band’s sixth studio album, Marauder, dropped, the indie band released a music video for the album’s opening song “If You Really Love Nothing.”

With catchy, mellow acoustics and nonchalant vocals, “If You Really Love Nothing” exemplifies the indie rock genre. In true indie fashion, the song is one you would hear blasting at the new hot kava bar or trendy local thrift store.

The video, directed by Hala Matar, features Stewart as the manic pixie dream girl of the evening, popping out of the trunk of a taxi and seductively leading Wittrock into a venue that is part Italian restaurant and part nightclub. But true to the song’s title, the duo’s relationship is short-lived as Stewart explores the room –– making out with various men she encounters –– and leaves in the early morning by hijacking the taxi she arrived in.

From James Van Der Beek strutting sexily with unicorns in Ke$ha’s “Blow” to Jake Gyllenhaal ripping off his tearaway pants and playing tennis in Vampire Weekend’s “Giving Up The Gun,” celebrity appearances in music videos are prevalent enough to be their own genre of music video. This intersection of the film and music spheres acts as a subtle wink toward the audience, confirming that in the entertainment industry, there’s no six degrees of separations — every celebrity is just one Instagram DM away from being in someone’s music video.

If the recent string of celebrity cameo music videos have left you hungry for more, here are some suggestions to satisfy your craving:

If you like “If You Really Love Nothing” try “Shot At The Night” by The Killers

The Killers are best known for their perennial classic and drunken party song “Mr. Brightside,” but they are also a pretty prolific alternative indie rock band, with nine albums under their belt. The song “Shot at the Night” was introduced in their compilation album Direct Hits, and while it never gained the same cult following as “Mr. Brightside,” the song gained enough attention to attract “The Social Network” star Max Minghella. Similar to “If You Really Love Nothing,” “Shot at The Night” features a wild night out –– this time in Las Vegas –– indie vocals and a vague storyline.

If you like Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” try “Boys” by Charli XCX

Who didn’t cry ugly tears when they saw Adam Levine hold hands in solidarity with Olympic gymnast and outspoken sexual abuse survivor Aly Raisman? The music video for Levine’s recent chart topper is a heartwarming homage to female empowerment, featuring famous women from all areas of pop culture — from Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things” to immigration activist Angy Rivera.


No one ever thought eating pancakes could be so sexual until Joe Jonas did it in slow motion. Charli XCX’s annoyingly catchy earworm turns the table on the male gaze with a plethora of blink-and-you-miss-it male celebrity appearances in objectified actions. While not a showcase of powerful women, “Boys” is empowering in a different way. Not only does it remind the audience that women don’t need to be scantily clad to sell a song, the video is directed by Charli XCX herself, proving that the female gaze can be an equally powerful tool.

If you like Drake’s “Nice for What” try “Moonlight” by Jay-Z

Yara Shahidi! Tracee Ellis Ross! Rashida Jones! Misty Copeland! Featuring everyone from Letitia Wright of “Black Panther” to Issa Rae of “Insecure,” Drake’s star-studded music video is the hip-hop precursor to Adam Levine’s rotating cast of female stars.

The “Degrassi” alum isn’t the only rapper to feature a cast of famous black celebrities. Jay-Z’s “Moonlight” reimagines the hit comedy “Friends” with famous black actors playing the iconic roles. Even Issa Rae appears in the video, playing everyone’s favorite waitress Rachel. From Tiffany Haddish to Lakeith Stanfield, the video is filled with the hottest rising stars and makes social commentary on racial representation in pop culture.


Contact Julie Lim at [email protected].