Woman with long black hair, low-rise jeans and a cropped white tank top sitting on her knees in front of a pink background with the word "Motivation" at the top
The single cover for “Motivation.” Prepping for the release of her upcoming debut album, Normani has already proved herself as an artist to watch.

Ever since her latest single “Motivation” grasped the undivided attention of pop music lovers everywhere, the chatter about Normani hasn’t stopped—and she intends to keep it that way. Transitioning from the popular girl group Fifth Harmony, this triple threat is finally ready to break out of her shell and jump into solo stardom. 

Unlike her former group members, Normani has been slowly easing into her big debut, giving audiences a sneak peak to her full potential with each new project. In 2017, she showcased her range as a captivating dancer on Season 24 of “Dancing With the Stars” where she finished in third place. She then began collaborating with the likes of other notable artists spanning from different genres. The moody R&B flair of “Waves” featuring 6lack, the adult contemporary Sam Smith collaboration “Dancing with a Stranger” and the hints of dancehall in the Calvin Harris produced “Checklist” all help establish herself as someone who is willing to do it all.

Spending the bulk of this year touring with Ariana Grande, it’s been the perfect way to introduce herself as a one woman opening act. Fans have seen her potential for years, but it seems that this is the moment where she is fully developing into her own individuality. With the help of pop music heavyweights Max Martin, Savan Kotecha and tour mate Grande, she was able to gracefully mold the song “Motivation” into a smash hit. As cheerful and pop friendly the single is, it’s the music video that truly took the catchy song to new heights.

Paying homage to the glory of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the video, directed by Dave Meyers, sees Normani as a young girl watching “106 & Park” and envisioning herself on the television screen. She opens up her own music video strutting down an empty road with a classic white tank top denim combo much like Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love.” Flashbacks of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” and Jennifer Lopez’s “I’m Real (Remix)” come to mind as we see her dancing and doing all kinds of flips at an outdoor basketball court. The choreography is immaculate and awe-inspiring–proving to be one of the only videos in the past couple of years to have such a high replay value. 

Normani’s debut performance of the hit didn’t disappoint either. Rising down to the stage from a basketball hoop, she excelled in her first MTV Video Music Awards showing as a solo artist. Much like the video, the basketball court stage set up was spectacular. Sporting a velour cropped jacket reminiscent of the Juicy Couture craze throughout the 2000s, she stunned the audience as she left it all on the stage. From the energy-filled choreography to her impressive acrobatic ability, she gave one of the best performances of the star-studded night and etched her name as someone to look out for. 

Past generations have had female performers like Janet Jackson, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga that they’ve grown up with. Over the years, these women have provided pop culture fanatics with thrilling moments fans continue to cherish to this day. Although these impactful women are still commanding the stage, there hasn’t been a full-fledged entertainer for this generation’s crop of new artists and Normani is a performer that could successfully clutch this role as her career grows. 

Lately, it seems as if we’ve left the performance quality of the major entertainers during the peak era of MTV to rest. More laid-back artists who aren’t necessarily about the massive production of choreography and music videos have become the most popular amongst this generation. Although this isn’t a bad thing, having a proper balance of different types of performers would heighten the buzz for award show performances once again. 

Nothing else has been announced about Normani’s debut album so far, but it is exciting to see where she’s headed with this anticipated project. Thankfully, we have a newer artist who respects the craft of videos and live performances again–and it is refreshing to witness her determination to create exceptional events in music.

Rylee Jackson can be reached at ryleejackson@sagebrush.unr.edu, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.