Upcoming album, “New Normal,” from Grammy-nominated singer Khalid is as smooth and breezy as a summer afternoon, which is strange considering the video that goes along with the track looks like a venture capitalist’s fantasy come true.
Skyscraper gardens, autonomous vehicles, drone deliveries, and smart homes are among the features of this futuristic utopia, which is depicted in the video. When it comes to products, Khalid’s video is jam-packed with real ones from real companies rather than generic knockoffs, a sign that the singer may have gotten some advice from Silicon Valley while creating his love letter to our surveillance capitalist nightmare of a future.
Skyscraper gardens, autonomous vehicles, drone deliveries, and smart homes are among the features of this futuristic utopia, which is depicted in the video.
When Khalid, sporting sick blueish purple hair, rolls up to his apartment in a robotaxi from autonomous vehicle startup Zoox, you know things are going to be interesting from the get-go. The toaster-shaped driverless shuttle, which is owned by Amazon, was only recently unveiled by the company, which was founded in December of last year. Although it is not yet available to the general public, in Khalid’s imagined future, the road is clogged with Zoox shuttles — and only Zoox shuttles — as they race down the highway. A Zoox PR representative tipped me off to the video, but I have yet to receive a response as to whether the company was compensated for the product placement.)
The Bradbury Building in Los Angeles (made famous by Blade Runner, a more realistic version of the future) is buzzing with activity as Khalid dances through the interior. Others are putting packages into drones that are buzzing around the atrium. What is the purpose of the drones being inside the building? Do you think they’re going to smash into the skylight? It appears that the Bradbury Building has been designated as a national historic landmark in 1977, but it is unclear whether there is any kind of rooftop portal for the drones that have been installed. In the meantime, Khalid continues to shimmy his way through the song, leaving these and other questions unanswered.
In what I can only describe as a sanitised version of Korben Dallas’ apartment from the film “The Fifth Element,” the singer then takes the stage.
In what I can only describe as a sanitised version of Korben Dallas’ apartment from The Fifth Element, the singer then takes the stage (another more accurate depiction of our chaotic and punitive future compared to this). Our living quarters are barely larger than a closet, but the walls are lined with hydroponic plants, which I guess is supposed to make us feel a little better about living in what is essentially a well-lighted coffin. Khalid watered his plants with the help of a spray bottle. Spray bottles will still be available in the future!
However, it appears that I spoke too soon, because the next shot shows us an automatic watering system that has been activated by Khalid’s PS5. A lot of questions are raised by this, including how far into the future this can be if he still has access to a PS5. Maybe he’s a fan of old-school video games? And, more importantly, why would the PS5 be in control of his water filter system? Is it now being used as a smart home hub? I’m completely perplexed.
On the sidewalk outside, swarms of knee-high delivery robots jostle for position in the narrow space. In this video, the marketing team at Starship Technologies must be kicking themselves for not being able to include their company’s name in the credits. Khalid sings into some sort of smart home panel mounted on his wall, and his vocals are apparently transmitted to the rest of the world via delivery robots. Even though I have mixed feelings about sidewalk robots that sing while also trampling on our toes, I think we should move on.
Only the best in financial technology will do for our man Khalid.
Then, in what appears to be a particularly shameless moment of product placement, the singer uses his smart home panel to remotely pay for something (for what, exactly? It is unclear) whether they are utilising Chime, a startup estimated to be worth $14.5 billion. Is Chime actually used by anyone these days? Khalid, on the other hand, does. Who would require the Cash application? Fintech of the highest calibre is reserved for our gentleman.
As the video comes to a close, we see Khalid opening his blinds to see a giant billboard outside his window advertising rocket trips. This is where the video ends. It’s a little difficult to tell what the advertisement is selling. A rocket trip to the moon would take 90 minutes, which would be extremely fast. This video moves far too quickly for any of the semi-realistic technology featured in it. Is it point-to-point commercial rocket travel between Los Angeles and New York, in the vein of Elon Musk’s scrapped idea from a couple of years ago? Is it a commercial rocket transport service between Los Angeles and New York? Even if this were the case, 90 minutes would be excessively long. Is it possible that Khalid’s record label, RCA, is funding these rocket trips? I’m going to be sceptical.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Khalid has an unabashed affection for Silicon Valley culture. At the time of his single release, the singer performed live at Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight launch, which took Virgin CEO Richard Branson to the very edge of space, where he debuted his single “New Normal.” There’s no doubt that he has a soft spot for large, multinational corporations that are attempting to alter the fabric of our reality.
However, while the video may be unrestrained in its romantic feelings for Big Tech’s quest to dominate our lives, the lyrics are actually a little more nuanced, if not downright defeatist in their attitude toward it. Despite the fact that I can’t promise you much / You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine,” Khalid sings on his new single. I sincerely hope that turns out to be the case, though.