Slay Queens: 12 Beautiful Music Videos About Women Murdering Men
Goodbye Earl and also men in general.
Beautiful art by Leila Ettachfini
"Why does Rihanna keep murdering men in music videos?" a tweet from The Atlantic queried.
Inverting tropes by depicting women killing men may not upend the kyriarchy, but it is beautiful to behold and generally fun to skewer false gods. It's not the men we want to murder, but the male power structures they uphold, so that we may free people of all genders from their hegemonic prison!
This Valentine's Day, don't spend your manufactured holiday watching deluded romance movies rooted in sexist stereotypes and written to perpetuate your oppression. If justice is what love looks like in public, then these misandrist music videos are what love look likes on YouTube.
Britney Spears, "Toxic" (2003)
It’s been nearly ten years since the release of this classic music video, and if you haven't watched it recently, I urge you to do so right now. The origin of the blue stewardess dress and crystal bodysuit mimicked 'round the world, "Toxic" follows Britney on her journey to kill a sexy man with green poison. The video also boasts a wacky red wig that's likely an homage to Alias, and a scene where the princess of pop has to contort herself around laser beams a la Entrapment or Charlie's Angels. The best part is that in said scene, Britney dances as stiff as ever but the lasers just move around her. Iconic.
Lady Gaga, "Paparazzi" 2009
To me, "Paparazzi" is peak Lady Gaga. At the height of her fame but before she presented herself to the world as an actress, Gaga joined the ranks of musicians whose music videos were mini-movies (of course, until Beyoncé pioneered the genre of the visual album). "Paparazzi" is a seven-minute tale of love and betrayal that follows the world famous Lady Gaga as she recovers from her boyfriend's attempt to murder her by pushing her off a balcony. After many questionable wheelchair dance scenes, Gaga makes a full recovery and poisons her sexy man played by Alexander Skarsgård. May we never forget the audio at the end of the video, when Gaga calls the police and says simply: "I just killed my boyfriend."
Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé, "Telephone" (2010)
A sequel to "Paparazzi," "Telephone" picks up with the incarceration of Gaga, who wears things like sunglasses made of still-smoking cigarettes, bodysuits made of caution tape, and hair curlers that are actually just entire cans of diet coke. Beyoncé then calls Gaga on the prison phone and bails her out. The pair go on to kill Beyoncé's shitty boyfriend (played by Tyrese Gibson) by poisoning his food. It's then revealed that Gaga poisoned all the food at the diner, leading to an incredible dance scene wherein our American flag-clad queens gyrate in a restaurant full of corpses. As the two drive away, they do the Thelma and Louise handhold, though we're ultimately unsure whether or not they're heading to certain death.
Rihanna, "Man Down" (2011)
Forget chronology—every murderess music video before and after "Man Down" is trying to be this video. Within the first thirty seconds, Rihanna shoots a man in the middle of a public square. ("Oh mama, mama, mama / I just shot a man down / in Central Station / in front of a big ol' crowd.) The video then cuts to the day before the shooting, and we learn the man's offense: He followed Rihanna home from the club after she rejected his advances and then raped her. If this man survived the shooting, I'd only tell Rihanna to try it again.
Rihanna "Bitch Better Have My Money" (2015)
"Bitch Better Have My Money" is the pinnacle of vengeful murder music videos. An epic visual tale rivaled only by "Thriller," the seven-minute video follows Rihanna and her two friends as the girl gang kidnaps and tortures the wife of an accountant who crossed the singer. Eventually, bad gal Rih Rih chops the offending accountant (played by the sexy and beloved yet nevertheless creep-typecast Mads Mikkelsen) into pieces and then lays naked and covered in blood in a box of money.
A cinematography masterpiece, every frame of "Bitch Better Have My Money" is worthy of a screenshot or gif. With all the the thrilling recklessness of Spring Breakers but ten times better and without James Franco, "BBHMM" has everything we could ask for: Rihanna in a see-through latex dress, and revenge against a conniving capitalist asshole.
Rihanna, "Needed Me" (2016)
Rihanna fully emerges as the Pisces Princess in "Needed Me," where she wanders an oceanfront mansion while wearing transparent, seafoam lingerie. Casually clutching a gun, Rihanna enters a strip club where she marches into a private booth and shoots a man who's in the middle of receiving a private dance. We never learn his offense, but we do see him try to throw bills at Rihanna as she pulls the trigger. She walks away and leaves his corpse and pile of $100 bills behind her.
Lana Del Rey, "High by the Beach" (2015)
Like Rihanna’s "Needed Me," "High by the Beach" shows Gemini Queen Lana Del Rey wearing a seafoam nightie and robe at a beachside property. When we see a helicopter hover menacingly outside of her window, Lana runs through the house and down to the shore to unearth a guitar case hidden among rocks. When she returns to the house, it's revealed that the case doesn't carry a guitar—it has a rocket launcher. She hits the helicopter, which explodes in a beautiful burst of flames, shrapnel, and tabloid papers.
Disclosure feat. Lorde, "Magnets" (2015)
In "Magnets," a married man locks eyes with Lorde from across a party, which naturally leads to an affair where the two express their sexual desires by continuously pushing each other into walls and windows. Then, the man is tied to a chair next to the swimming pool and we learn that his wife was in cahoots with Lorde all along. The singer pushes the bound man into the pool and then throws a lighter into it, causing the whole pool to catch fire for some reason.
The Dixie Chicks, "Goodbye Earl" (1999)
This country classic follows besties Wanda (played by Jane Krakowski) and Mary Ann, who want to save Wanda from her abusive husband Earl. The two decide to poison Earl's black-eyed peas, do away with his body, buy land, and open up a fresh produce stand. All in all, it's a wholesome story about two problem-solving entrepreneurs who we should all support.
Garbage, "The World Is Not Enough" (2000)
Set in 1960s Chicago, this video follows a robot-Shirley Manson (who kills the real Shirley Manson) on a mission to murder men with her poisonous kiss. The theme song for the James Bond movie of the same title, "The World Is Not Enough" is part Poison Ivy, part Bjork robot sex, and all power. Robo-Shirley's final performance is to blow up an entire theater of rich people out for a bougie night at the opera.
Christina Aguilera, "Your Body" (2012)
Opening with a disclaimer that "no men were harmed in the making of this video," Christina Aguilera's "Your Body" shows the Dirrty singer on a murder rampage. Her crime scenes mimic classic grimy settings from old movies: an exploded car in the desert, a dirty bathroom stall at a dive bar, and a motel room in the middle of nowhere. The depictions of murder get a playful twist, however, when the video replaces blood with garish art supplies like blue paint and pink glitter.
Aerosmith, "Janie’s Got a Gun" (1989)
The oldest video on the list and the only song written by all-male musicians, "Janie’s Got a Gun" is basically an entire episode of Law & Order: SVU. We follow a wealthy white couple and their teen daughter Janie in what looks like Beverly Hills. The family lives an idyllic life until they're torn apart when the father rapes Janie, who eventually stops him by shooting him in the head. Janie runs away only to be found by detectives, though we never learn her fate. We can only hope that her mother bailed her out and the mother-daughter duo are now living a happy life without a life-ruining rapist.
Well, there you have it! A bomb music video playlist for all your vengeful Valentine's Day needs. And if you're wondering why Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora's "Black Widow" didn't make the cut, it's because the women didn't even kill the man in their video (Michael Madsen as an extremely off-brand Budd from Kill Bill)—a literal black widow spider does. This cop-out would be bad if it weren't so funny; Iggy can't seem to do anything right, including making this misandry playlist.