The Rubik's Cube in Music Videos
A previous article in the “Rubik's Cube in Popular Culture” series, entitled “The Rubik's Cube in Film” and “The Rubik's Cube in Advertising” show that the Rubik's Cube can be used as a theatrical device to represent intelligence (or lack thereof) of the user. It is also used to make characters within a film more relatable (most adults remember struggling with a Rubik's Cube, hence a character within a film struggling with one would aid this bond). However, the Rubik's Cube is present in many other media forms.
This time we'll take a look at where you can find everyone's favourite puzzle within music videos, either as a background object or as the main focus.
The Rubik's Cube is seen for a brief period during several music videos. These are mainly just background objects that appear for no obvious reason, but some have pretty obvious connotations behind their use.
Click the titles to watch the videos!
Dua Lipa - Physical (Directors Cut)
This 2020 Dua Lipa pop song has reached number one in 23 countries. Critics viewed the high energy of the track and Lipa's vocals as uniquely reinterpreting the 1980s era while dancing in various coloured warehouses. The trailer showed Lipa solving a Rubik's Cube while staring out of an apartment window. We can see her trying to solve the cube in the intro of the music video where a male Northern Cardinal bird mysteriously fixes the puzzle.
Jennifer Lopez – Ain't Your Mama
Within Lopez's song about female empowerment, there are several scenes showing men struggling with certain tasks that Lopez is able to complete within mere seconds. One of these scenes shows a man trying to solve a Rubik's Cube, only for Lopez to take it from him and return it to him solved a few seconds later. We don't see Lopez solving the cube, just turning a few layers before the camera angle changes and the cube is shown solved. The obvious message behind the use of the cube in this video is the intelligence of the protagonist, a woman, in comparison to her peers, men.
The song was released in May of 2016, so if anything it shows how the Rubik's Cube is still a highly-popular puzzle even today, and that those who can solve it are seen as wildly intelligent due to its difficulty status.
Spice Girls – Viva Forever
A much older song than the previous, the 1998 song featured in the second album of the then-incredibly popular pop group Spice Girls. In the music video, the Spice Girls (pictured as stop-motion animated fairies) take a boy to a giant Rubik's Cube and, upon opening the top centre, help him climb into the puzzle. His friend tries to follow, but the cube has already been sealed and shrunken slightly. In the following scene, the cube is normal sized, and the boy finds a giant gumball-style vending machine with open cases all over the floor. He places the solved cube into one of these cases and throws it back into the machine, then walks away. The video is meant to represent childhood, and the child that went into the cube wants to preserve that childhood forever, in a world where things such as giant Rubik's Cubes and gumball machines are possible, whereas the other one leaves the area and his childhood behind.
Seether - Breakdown
Shaun Morgan, the lead singer of this South African metal band experienced a difficult public breakup with his girlfriend, Amy Lee, the co-founder and lead vocalist of the rock band Evanescence, who proceeded to write "Call Me When You're Sober" about their relationship and his denial over his drinking habits. Coincidentally Shaun went into rehab exactly the day the song came out and some have speculated whether this song is his reply, but Morgan denied this in an interview.
In the music video Shaun's head is being twisted like a Rubik's Cube by a woman.
De La Soul – Get Away Feat. The Spirit Of Wu Tang
In this music video we see Mase, Pos and Dave rapping on the pieces of a rolling and ever-shifting twisty puzzle while their old album covers come to life and splash color in the intentionally empty and dark room. In the video released in 2013 the hip hop trio uses the Rubik's Cube as a metaphor to say that all great concepts never die. They use the puzzle to illustrate the current state of hip hop. Just a few people can master the Rubik's Cube.
Maroon 5 - Payphone ft. Wiz Khalifa
The video starts with the character played by Adam Levine surviving a car explosion. His cellphone is broken so he throws it in the flames and is using a payphone trying to call home. The next flashback scene starts with an unsolved cube laying on the desk of the banker while the bank is being robbed. The protagonist manages to escape the heist and after a car chase we see how he had ended up in an exploding car shown at the start of the video.
Magic Box - If You
The visual effects in this 2003 italo dance videoclip are inspired by the Rubik's Cube.
Genesis - Land Of Confusion
This hit by the iconic English rock band Genesis from their 1986 album Invisible Touch featured puppet caricatures from the 1980s UK sketch show Spitting Image. In the music video Mr. Spock from Star Trek tries to fix the Rubik's Cube with a screwdriver and then he throws it away unsolved.
Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran - End Game
Taylor and Ed spend a night together in London. The video shows the singer at the center of dancers and clubgoers with personal closeups and stunning urban skylines with fireworks in the background. The cube shows up only for a fraction of a second as seen on the image above.
Reggae Shark - Sharks Aren't Supposed to Cry
The Reggae Shark mini-series might be familiar from YouTube. In one episode a shark can be seen in his "salty home" playing with the cube.
Marianas Trench - Haven't Had Enough
A girl is wearing a Rubik's Cube costume in the music video, recorded by this Canadian pop punk band for their third studio album. The song was released in 2011 as the album's lead single. It debuted 9th on Canadian Hot 100 and was certified double Platinum.
Rubik's Cube Songs
Some songs have even been made about the cube itself. The majority of these are tutorials on how to solve the cube condensed into a rhythmic tune. Here are some of the most popular examples of this kind of work:
DeStorm Power – How To Solve A Rubik's Cube
In this video, the rapper shows a split-camera of himself wearing a Rubik's Cube t-shirt and a cube that he is showing each step on. Whilst the method he uses is fairly complicated in comparison to simpler beginner methods, and his algorithmic notation consists of down, bottom, up and similar words which can be immensely confusing, the song does cover the entire solve of a cube using a variation of layer-by-layer. This song was most likely more for entertainment than for practical use, as other, better tutorials are available for those who want a less-condensed version of the tutorial. The song is fairly catchy admittedly, despite not being very useful.
Rhett & Link - My OCD
The video shows a therapy where the patient is shown OCD triggers, like unequally cut pizza slices, chips bag opened on the wrong end and an unsolved Rubik's Cube. The subject (Link) feels the urge to organize everything.
Logic – Freestyle Rap Whilst Solving Rubik's Cube
In this video, rapper Logic performs a freestyle rap whilst solving a Rubik's Cube. Although his rap is not about the puzzle, he is solving one whilst doing it. For his first attempt, Logic uses a beginner CFOP variant (as most beginners will), however for a second attempt, he “solves the cube” with his eyes closed (anyone who has experience with solving a cube blindfolded will know that this is a setup puzzle, and he is merely repeating combinations of moves to “unscramble” the puzzle.
The Barron Knights - Mr Rubik
The Barron Knights are a successful British humorous pop group, originally formed in 1959 who actually broke through in the USA as well. They gave us the album Twisting The Knights Away in 1981, and reflected the year's main craze on the cover and in one of the tracks, a real rarity back then - the Rubik's Cube!
In the song St. Peter welcomes a man at the Gates of Heaven who had gone crazy and commited suicide not being able to solve the Rubik's Cube.
Holky z naší školky
The Czechoslovakian song from 1982 "Holky z naší školky" (The girls from our kindergarten) shows what girls are interested in as they're getting older. When they're young they play with dolls, then they're cubing, then chasing boys and finally they're knitting.
SzkiTon - RBK
SzkiTon Productions is a Hungarian short comedy sketch group with many followers on Facebook and other social media platforms. Their music video presents a group of people who ended up in therapy because they couldn't solve the cube. Despite their lack of success they still believe that someday they will be able to crack the code and make Erno Rubik proud.
As we can see the Rubik's Cube is still featured in music videos as well as 40 years ago, proving once again how relevant it remains in popular culture and media as a symbol of intelligence and memory like no other, false assumptions that are so ingrained into people's minds that means the cube will forever remain a symbol of superiority until the day when nobody knows what a Rubik's Cube is anymore.
If Educational Videos Were Filmed Like Music Videos
There's a good reason music videos look strange. In this educational video Tom Scott explains why. The Rubik's Cube can be spotted at 0:42 as an example for product placement.