Music Video Review: ‘Havana’ is a perfectly gift-wrapped fantasy

Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 4:04pm



A good music video, as one would expect, begins with a good song. Often a good video will take that song and use it to tell some sort of story, and in the best videos, that story is told in a creative way that will resonate strongly for those watching. The video for “Havana,” Camila Cabello’s new song featuring Young Thug, does all of that and more. 

“Havana” starts out within a telenovela, where the star, Camila (played by Cabello), is caught up in a scene of soap-opera drama with her boyfriend, Juan. The moment Juan proposes, the television switches off, and the focus switches to a couch in an ordinary living room. A girl in a white t-shirt and glasses, Karla (also played by Cabello), starts begging her grandmother to turn it back on, only to get caught up in drama of her own. Her grandmother urges her to start living her life, and her sister, Bella, makes fun of her for staying in and watching telenovelas.

Bella ends up going out, while Karla stays in to watch a movie with her grandmother. When her grandmother falls asleep on the couch, she decides to head out to the theater, where Camila and Young Thug are starring in a movie called “Havana.” The narrative is then whisked into the movie, and when Camila ultimately rejects her onscreen lover, saying, “I love me more,” Karla cries out, “That’s the ending? You end up alone?”

Camila then addresses her personally by saying, “You don’t like my story? Go write your own.”

This is the line that sums up everything exciting about the video: Its independence-oriented message, and its playful, engrossing way of communicating between its own narratives. And it’s exactly what Karla does.

The central storyline comes full circle: Karla starts dancing in the street and finds her own partner, incidentally running into Bella soon afterward, while their grandmother dances alone in the kitchen at home.

It’s hard to keep track of the number of stories told here — there’s the telenovela at the beginning, the movie in the theater and best of all, the story of Karla leaving her movies behind in favor of her own story. The video doesn’t only leave off with a powerful message about coming to embody your own dreams; it also tells an interesting story and creatively weaves between multiple storylines, all of which Cabello fits into fully and naturally. It equally embraces and validates so many different approaches to love: Karla’s decision to choose a dancing partner at the end, Camila’s approach of living independently, even Bella’s just-here-to-have-fun attitude and the playful lifestyle of the grandmother, who has no onscreen partner but is still living a life full of love.

The video does all of this in a production that takes place in under seven minutes. It’s complete, fun to watch and utterly captivating.