Jane Zhang’s trippy new music video is a quick lesson in pop culture

UPDATED: Thanks guys, we’ve added two more works of art we missed out in the list below and identified the exact Salvador Dali painting!

Jane Zhang initially rose to fame in 2005 after competing and coming in third in Super Girl, an all-girl TV singing contest, awing audiences with her powerful voice and whistle register. Now, she is set to make her US debut album in collaboration with Timbaland. Her first single was released a few days ago, shooting up to the iTunes Top 10 — no easy feat for an Asian artist.

But that’s not at all. While we’ve to admit that her determination and success is impressive, it’s this music video that has gotten our undivided attention:

We’re sure that at least a few of these scenes seem familiar to you, even if you can’t immediately remember where they’re from. Here’s a step-by-step guide to all the references we could find in this video.



01 Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

Nighthawks is an oil on canvas painting from 1942, portraying the patrons of a downtown diner late at night.

02 Vincent van Gogh’s self-portrait

Vincent van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits in just three years, but the most popular one is arguably the one he painted shortly after he left the asylum of Saint–Paul–de–Mausole in Saint-Rémy. It is another oil on canvas painting from 1889, albeit much more intense.

03 Mike Tyson bites off ear

One of Mike Tyson’s more infamous moments occurred in 1997, when he bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear in a match, leading to his suspension from boxing. Interestingly, the scene in the video alludes to something else as well – the fact that Vincent van Gogh was missing his ear (the general consensus is that he cut it off himself, although the real reason why has only recently come to light).

04 The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet

The Gleaners is an oil painting from 1857, portraying three peasant woman gleaning a field of stray grains of wheat after the harvest.

05 Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

Girl With A Pearl Earring is an oil painting from 1665, portraying exactly what its title says. It went on to inspire both a novel and a film of the same name, starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth in the lead roles.

06 Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth

Christina’s World is one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century, painted in 1948. Wyeth was inspired by a woman who was crawling across a field while he was watching from a window in his house.



07 A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

One of Georges Seurat’s most famous works; it was painted in 1884 and is an example of pointillism.

08 The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Scream, quite possibly the most famous reference on this list, is a portrait of existentialist angst from 1893.

09 Neuralyzer from Men In Black

Even if you aren’t a fan of the MIB franchise, you’d definitely have heard of the neuralyzer, a device that erases memories with just a flash.

10 The Temptation of St. Anthony by Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was a Spanish surrealist artist in the mid-20th century. While the scene after the whole MIB fiasco is reminiscent of his work in general, one particular painting it points to is The Temptation of St. Anthony, 1946.

11 Ascending and Descending by M.C. Escher

Ascending and Descending is a lithograph print from 1960, depicting a large building with a never-ending staircase on the roof.

12 Another World by M.C. Escher

Another World is a woodcut print from 1947, depicting a cubic architectural structure made from brick.

11 The Son of Man by René Magritte

It is a 1964 self-portrait by surrealist painter Magritte. The apple, which largely obscures his face, and his eyes which are peeking over them, are a point of interest. In the video, the apple shifts, revealing the face of Salvador Dali.

BONUS FUN FACT: The song itself is a reference to Jay Z’s Dirt Off Your Shoulder.

If you think there’s something we’ve missed out, let us know in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Jane Zhang’s trippy new music video is a quick lesson in pop culture”

  1. Shiang Lee says:

    #10 should be La Tentation de Saint Antoine, 1946

    1. janetcatherina says:

      Thank you, we’ve made the change. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *