Rhea Raj Wants To Get 'Messy'

Rhea Raj Wants To Get 'Messy'

By Erica CampbellJan 26, 2024

Rhea Raj’s video for “MESSY” is what pop culture varsity daydreams are made of. In the visuals for her kinetic pop track, the singer dons a sparkly pink football uniform and dances with a troop of baddy cheerleaders. You can feel the nostalgia as you watch Raj transform a football field into a high-octane dancefloor, all while defiantly singing “Jeez that bitch sexy/ In the mirror like that’s my bestie/ Fuck with me who you testing/ If you want then let's get messy” like a cheer chant.

"'MESSY' was inspired by a culmination of so many nostalgic pop culture references from my favorite 2000s high school movies and maximalist music videos by icons like Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani and The Pussycat Dolls," she tells PAPER, adding that while recording the track she "had this magical moment in the studio with Benny Cassette and Gino The Ghost where the vision of being on a football field just hit [her]."

Below, Raj tells PAPER how that pop culture came to life in the video for “Messy,” and how she's motivating listeners to “not take life too seriously.”

What was the intitial vision for "MESSY" and how did you bring it to life?

I imagined a music video with chic cropped jerseys, choreo filled with sharp hits and overall bratty energy, because that’s what the song musically and lyrically gives. I made a moodboard with my favorite images — there was a lot of pink and glitter — and brought it to Elise Schatz, the brilliant woman who brought the narrative to life and directed the video. TikTok superstars Jaeden Gomez and Kara Cannella choreographed all the dance breakdowns and cast my sexy teammates! It was the largest production for a music video I’ve done thus far and truly the culmination of the dream team.

Why was a high school football field cheer backdrop the perfect manifestation of "MESSY"?

The second I heard the “MESSY” beat and drums come in, I immediately thought that I would want to hear this playing in a stadium. The melodies and hook we wrote were chanty and anthemic, so from the jump I was set on a sporty visual. The world we built on the football field felt so special because I’d never seen anything like it. “MESSY” challenges toxic masculinity and gender norms in a way that’s lighthearted and satirical.

What do you hope viewers and listeners feel after they've watched the video for "MESSY"?

“MESSY” is my response to people who play by the rules and take life too seriously. I hope people watching the video and listening to the song feel empowered to express themselves boldly. The whole chorus is about looking in the mirror and loving yourself endlessly, setting the tone for a hot and fun 2024.

What are you most excited to share with your fans next?

I’m beyond excited to share that my debut album titled HUNTER will be releasing this year!

Photography: Nandez Ndz