A special music video for the release in Japan of Alicia Keys’ new single, Girl on Fire, has been made by the photographer and film director Mika Ninagawa.

The special collaboration is officially only being shown in Japan (well, as it’s on YouTube it’s obviously in reality globally available).

mika ninagawa alicia keys girl on fire

It’s no secret among my friends how much I dislike Mika Ninagawa. Forgive me why I elucidate.

First, the praxis. Her saccharine pink floral visuals are as superficial as photographic imagery can get. And then we arrive at her professional cynicism. She displays nothing short of an insatiable appetite for every and any job she can get — from AKB48 music videos to movies, fashion portraits… Anyone who’ll pay her for some more red and pink flowers.

That’s perfectly fine — I’m hardly adverse to doing things for a salary — but then doesn’t that make you a filmmaker with an ad agency? Again, nothing wrong with that. It just doesn’t deserve the artistic hype and respect that Ninagawa commands.

The most irksome of all was perhaps her series of sakura cherry blossom photos that she — or at least her marketing people — tried to turn into some sort of Tohoku-themed requiem.

mika ninagawa alicia keys girl on fire

This is her first time to work with a western music artist and to be fair, it is a major coup to be showcasing the new single from one of the biggest stars on the planet.

It’s a pity then that her creativity could only muster its usual hackneyed and skin-deep hoopla.

Her inspiration for this new Girl on Fire music video project was to take her usual bricolage of flowers and add — this is the really original part — flames. Well, at least she stopped short of setting fire to Ms. Keys to make the “symbolism” even more patent.

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Japanese Alicia Keys fans should be up in arms. This video “especially made for them” just looks plain cheap, seemingly shot in a small studio with some lights, projections and a mirror.

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