The Director’s Chair: A Closer Look At Maxwell’s ‘Pretty Wings’

Cherry in the building coming at you with another music video breakdown. This time I'm featuring Maxwell and his latest music video "Pretty Wings." This video premiered when SoulBounce was down a few weeks back, but you know we had to feature it. Maxwell has always been known to wow us with the simplicity of his videos. He knows his audience is mostly female, and he knows how to cater to them (he did put out a video of himself sitting in a bathtub didn't he?)  Maxwell has been away from the music scene for over eight years and the visual for his comeback record is extremely important to reintroduce him to his fans. Gone is the big hair and it is replaced with a close cut that fits him well. With "Pretty Wings," Maxwell goes simple again but this time he puts out a visual that the fellas can appreciate as well.

This song is about a lost love and the director Phillip Andelman captures the essence of the song while staying true to Maxwell and his image without being perverse. This video features Maxwell sitting in an empty house reminiscing on lost love. Five different models, all of different ethnicities, are featured in amazing beauty shots as they lay in the bed stirring in their sleep. I love how Phillip tastefully captures the beauty of each woman all while intercutting shots of Maxwell laying in bed with them and performing against a simple white wall. When the song climaxes, the girls start floating in the air over the bed putting the exclamation point on the message of the song "Pretty Wings." These angels have been called home. Maxwell not only will keep the audience that has grown to love him but also will bring in new listeners when they lay eyes on this visual masterpiece.

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16 Responses

  1. Just saw this video this morning, and I love everything about it. I think it is a fantastic way for Maxwell to make his return. In the midst of the Soulja Boy Tell 'Em era, it's nice to see that quality music still has a place. Very nice article.

  2. I love this video. It's vintage Maxwell.
    However, I was hoping that Matt's insights into this or any other video would go a little deeper beyond what has already been written and what Maxwell has already told us.
    I'm looking forward to hearing his unique perspective in his posts.

  3. Yes,yes Love the video.
    "I love how Phillip tastefully captures the beauty of each woman all while inter cutting shots of Maxwell laying in bed with them and performing against a simple white wall"--totally agree!

  4. I adore Maxwell and every project since the first...okay maybe not adored "Now"...but I always excuse that!
    Perhaps it's only me....but I can't say I love the video....I am not feeling the multi-racial piece at all. I want to see some reflections of chocolate....straight up..........period! I can see this on virtually every magazine cover, television station etc..... Do we have to see it again with this? Damn! A bit disappointing to say the least but hopefully the industry is not regressing back to imagery that reflects some ol"......well how should I say this.....whitewashing!
    It's annoying/frustrating and self-negating on so many levels. And I am not trying to participate in any of that nonsense.
    However I must say that I do love the song and the cinematography (light, vantage points, and effects)....flawless indeed.
    The story line is also interesting. Before the release Mr. M did state that the video is every man's wet dream.....hmmmmm......really?
    Besides the obvious(multiple different women,experimenting with the 51 flavors) I would love to know if there is something else here we (the audience) haven't caught yet? Like does the women being lifted/floated at the end represent some kind of death? Death of what?
    Cause’ I for one hold brother’s to a high esteem and give them way more credit than the obvious. Hopefully not every grown a** brother covets “this” as his secret desire.....something tells me I may be right!
    Speak on it!

  5. Hi there!
    I just can't get over Maxwell cutting his hair!!!

  6. @ Assata
    I always kinda..thought Now was Good,but it was easily my least fav of his work(mind you,he is my favorite artist so least fav still means greaaat). I thought the songs were much more accessible which ironically made it my least fav Maxwell cd.I love him in his Embrya-doing my own thing fase. The ballads/slow jams a la Changed,Lifetime are way less complex than a Know These Things and http://WWW..
    But lately I've been appreciating the album on a whole 'nother level. He said in a few interviews that UHS was about the past, Embrya about the future and Now,obviously,about the present. I guess that's why the overall sound of the album was more mainstream-for a lack of better words- but the lyrically content is still amazing and there are so many gems on the album; get to know ya, no one, temporary night, for lovers only and of course one of my favorite Maxwell songs ever;W/ as my girl. I always feel the album has a Prince-ish vibe/inspiration but still 100% Maxwell.
    My point with this rant;I don't know..but I guess I just want to say,don't write of the album haha

  7. @Assata
    I agree. I believe the video sends the wrong message. This particular image of multiple women of different ethnicities is tired and no different than the light or white skin images played out in earlier rap videos. Maxwell's fan base was diverse before the vid.
    I enjoyed Maxwell 1 because he seemed to reflect a certain innocence and sincerity in his music and imagery. There was anticipation, exploration, as well as heat and passion in a new or nearly new love.
    This new videos shows a man with many sexual partners, sowing his oats, not looking for love, but lust. The video is beautiful, ethereal, light and airy, all the things women love to see and feel as though we are floating.
    But ladies the hip rubbing, spooning, and hands between the thighs of multiple women brings up my "man whore" radar.
    I do hope Maxwell 2 brings us something deeper than his many sexual conquest.

  8. I dont know who's on the downlow more? Maxwell or Tyler Perry:).............

  9. I absolutely love the video. The vintage feel, the lighting, the movements and the simplicity of it make it so phenomenal. The fact that there are women of different ethnicities in the video is a plus for me. However, I never really understood, and I still don't, why there were about 5 women in the video, lmao.
    I believe that the video is up for interpretation because that's usually how Maxwell's videos/songs/lyrics work anyway. You can see it as him being "Sexually involved" (lmao) with those women, even if all that's seen is them in bed with him and couple-y interaction. But I think that if you connect the lyrics and the song structure with the video, and take into account what has been said about the video, I'm sure that you'll see it in a whole different way. For example, from the first line, with the keyword "time" in it, if you're reading it in anyway like I am, you can see this kinda sorta seperation of time between Maxwell and the other women.
    The interaction between Maxwell and the women was tastefully done IMO and the inability of those women to essentially fall asleep when Maxwell's not there was captured in such an intresting cool way. Even in the beginning, the chiming, the shot of him against the simple white wall, the "empty feeling" all the rooms had just really captured the song so very well. If you are asking about why the women were lifted in the air at the end, I think that you're on the right track in terms of reading into the video because that's what videos as great as this one need. I personally think that it represents sacrifice and going to a better place...not literally, but figuratively. And the fact that he's reaching for only one says something...
    Thoughts all over the place, but basically what I'm saying is make a connection...and that I absolutely LOVE this video. Cherry, you broke it down so well =).

  10. @stonyisland

  11. I Don't think this video was intended to present him as "whorish" in any way. The song was about him meeting "the perfect girl" at the wrong time in his life and losing the relationship. The different women were probably placed in the video to attract a broader audience and not to exclude.

  12. the songs is about how he has to set the girl free because he cant stay faithful to her and she needs to find someone who will love her so obviously he is gunna have a lot of girls in his video

  13. who are the five models in the video ??

  14. I love the video. I am an AA male, married to a beautiful Latina woman, who spent 12 weeks this summer working in Japan where I formed platonic friendships with a group of Asian women whose inner and outer beauty is nothing less than breathtaking. The multicultural aspect reminds me of all the beautiful women in my life, my wife, my daughters, my friends in Japan, and my mother.

  15. With his absence and reappearance, this was just perfect. I agree with the review on this video. It's simplicity and artistry are the Maxwell of old's trademark but definitely a newer sound and feel..more mature. Love the song and the video was the perfect compliment....glad your back.

  16. For those who complain about his video sending the wrong message, he stated in interviews that these were experiences he's had. He HAD...not is having. He wrote about his life and mistakes and put it out there for all of us to see (and judge). Personally, I love the song and get the message of the video. For this song, Bad Habits and Fist Full of Tears, it's obvious he's made some mistakes...some he was sorry for and I think some he enjoyed but regreted. Haven't we all been there in some shape or form. Black Summer's Night is he's catharsis. I love that he was innocent, fallen and's called growing up.