Why Iggy Azalea’s ‘Clueless’ Remake Is Pop’s Greatest Love Letter to the 1990s


The 1990s as inspiration is, at this point, so ubiquitous it’s mundane. So instead of adding her own take to the pile, Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea took a different approach with her new video for “Fancy”: She made a shot-for-shot homage to Clueless, casting herself in the lead role of Cher Horowitz. By not trying to pass off the ’90s trend as her own creation, Iggy succeeds in having fun with it — and grabbing attention.

Iggy’s rolling with the homies through this style like Cher hit up the Val party before heading back to Beverly Hills, though I’m certain her journey will end better than Cher’s jaunt did. Not only is the Director X-helmed remake well done, but the attention to detail suggests a true Clueless fan in 23-year-old Iggy, or at least in her collaborators. Specific scenes play out with a focus on recreating outfits. A few are near exact in matching the film’s best fashion: Cher’s yellow plaid suit from her debate-class face-off with Amber, and Cher and co. at the fences during PE wearing sporty black and white. Less memorable looks get their own tweaks too: Cher, Dionne and Murray’s emotional freeway ride; the aforementioned Valley party; Tai’s everyday school look, post-makeover of course.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-zpOMYRi0w]

The most obvious explanation of this treatment would be Charli XCX, the song’s featured vocalist and one of pop music’s biggest purveyors of the Cher Horowitz look. Charli’s closet is full of Clueless-style colored plaid minis and white knee socks, plus Spice Girls-style platforms (the “SuperLove” video shows the full range of her excellent style). The 21-year-old Brit’s ’90s aesthetic has always been backed by what feels like a genuine adoration for the decade of her childhood; she covered the Backstreet Boys and proudly declared that she’s a “’90s bitch” on the biggest hit of her songwriting career, Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” Even now, as she prepares her second album with a more punk-leaning sound, Charli keeps returning to the 1990s in look and spirit.

Whether the idea came from Iggy, Charli or a collaborator, it’s nice to see the decade get a true homage, instead of weak co-opt attempts like the one made by Katy Perry late last year. One of the many, many narratives set forth by Perry in promoting her October release, Prism, was a love of all things ’90s. For a fleeting time, her on- and off-stage look reflected this sudden fascination, though only one song on the album — “Walking on Air” — sounded even mildly ’90s inspired.

“I really want to bring that authentic ’90s deep house song styling back,” Perry said at the time, adding that she was struck with the idea after seeing men rollerblading in Central Park. The best Perry could muster was a mild CeCe Peniston “Finally” vibe and a Cher-Horowitz-plaid mini on SNL. Less than six months later, Perry has moved on from the look.

These days pop stars don’t just recycle aesthetics with each new album; they dream up an entire world to promote a damn single. It’s a lot easier to trust the ’90s inspiration behind someone like Charli XCX, when she’s completely owned it since debuting a few years back. Basically, Perry did the lamest thing one can do with a trend that’s already been explored: she did it half-assed and added nothing to it. Leave it to the Tumblr girls, Perry.

Iggy Azalea, like Perry, is an artist with a major label album to promote: her long-delayed debut, The New Classic, which features “Fancy.” The difference here is that she’s not trying to suddenly cram the 1990s into every public appearance like Perry did. When Azalea first appeared, her personal style borrowed slightly from the ’90s and her go-to reference in the press was Tupac. In recent times, however, her aesthetic has had little to do with the decade, so it’s clear this Clueless remake is just a stopover, not another fetishization of the ’90s in hip-hop culture — not that we’d mind a shot-for-shot music video remake of, say, Jawbreaker or Empire Records.