Michael Jackson has loomed ever larger over pop music since his death in 2009, and it’s tempting to think the King would be smiling down on the video for Usher‘s MTV Video Music Awards-performed “She Came to Give It to You.” The comparison doesn’t come out of nowhere — Nicki Minaj, in one of those ferociously entertaining guest verses for which she’s rightly revered, boasts of “flow slicker than MJ, early curl” — and it’s apt for Pharrell‘s production, too, which is one of the finer examples of his recent affection for nimble, organic-sounding disco struts. You could make a megamix of Usher’s ad libs (Jackson-style “woo”s, but also a grinning “yeah, baby”) alone.
The only time the singer and the rapper share the screen in the song’s video is when they’re, quite literally, sharing a screen; the clip involves a bunch of TV monitors, for some reason. There’s also an amazing-looking dance party, some great shots of Usher in silhouette, some marvelously cartoonish faces from Minaj, a Pharrell cameo and — least explicably of all — a tarantula. When the “Anaconda” MC returns for some parting words, the move come across as generous, a welcome excuse to savor the warm, horn- and harmony-spattered groove.
“It’s not what you do / It’s what you do at night,” Usher croons on the hook. He’s describing something that, like the best pop, doesn’t really have to make sense so long as everybody’s having a good time. And don’t stop ’til you get enough.