Soulful, rootsy singer-songwriter Valerie June’s “Smile” is a jazzy, poppy tune aimed at highlighting the Memphis-based artist’s optimistic, positive outlook on activism, centered on the idea that — as she tells CMT — “joy and hope are inner treasures that can never be taken from us unless we allow them to be.” The song’s video, directed by Laura Matula, is a sweeping homage to this vision.
“The video starts with me joyfully entering the diner to work. Everyone is in a low-energy, frozen mood. As the song blares on, I dance around the room igniting and awakening the inner joy and light of each person I see,” June says. “By the end of the video, the smiles and exuberance are so contagious that we are all transported into dance scenes of wonder and bliss! Just getting down like we’re dancing with the stars!!!”
Even deeper, the clip’s elaborate choreography (“playful enough for anyone glued to the screens at home to bounce along to”) and eye for 80s era fashion were also notable. June makes a particular note of one unique wardrobe piece and aesthetic achievement of the video, though:
“By far my favorite part, though was the wig that Marissa Jackson made that could fit over my HUGE locks! I’ve wanted a wig like this ever since I did my New York Times photoshoot with the gorgeous, Lelanie Foster. We were really able to bring out the vibes of 80s Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and so many other beautiful iconic superstars.”
Overall, June has a particularly poignant takeaway from the video. “It’s ok to remember that sometimes all we can do is smile, knowing that our smile is lifting others up and transforming the hearts of those we’ve never even spoken one word to.”