The Inside Story of Usher's Pointed 'Boyfriend' Video
Sofia Kerpan is the editor behind the most-talked-about music video of the moment—Usher's "Boyfriend." Directed by Ricky Alvarez, the cheeky clip finds Usher and Nope star Keke Palmer cleverly addressing a controversy that erupted on Twitter last month.
The backstory for those of you who missed the drama: Darius Jackson took to the platform to shame Palmer, with whom he has a child, for wearing a sheer dress with a fitted black bodysuit underneath it to an Usher concert in Las Vegas. Jackson insisted the attire was unbefitting a mom because, apparently, in his view, moms aren't allowed to wear whatever the hell they want.
Twitter wasn't having it. Jackson absorbed a backlash to his sexist critique, and, now, Usher and Palmer mock his outdated attitude via this video.
Kerpan, a big Usher fan, said yes to editing "Boyfriend" the second the project was offered, though she had no idea that Palmer would star in the video.
In fact, when the editor, who works out of Modern Post and has also cut clips for Lizzo and Gunna, first saw the footage featuring Palmer, "My jaw was probably on the floor," she recalls. "Let's just say I had been following the story about her attending Usher's residency show like it was my job, and I didn't realize I'd get to be a part of furthering the conversation."
As "Boyfriend" opens, a group of women are in a Las Vegas hotel room pre-gaming before an Usher concert. One of them sits at a mirror applying makeup with her back to the camera. When she turns to face viewers, it’s an OMG! moment when we realize it's Palmer.
"Then, when she starts mouthing the lyrics, you know it's not going to be what you expected at all," Kerpan says.
Keke and her friends make their way to the casino, stepping into an elevator, where Usher's "U Remind Me" is playing. "Boyfriend" pauses as we hear Palmer's actual voice as she sings along to Usher's 2001 hit.
"I love that part. I think it's a fun way that we keep teasing the audience, who are like, 'Okay, where is this going?' and building the suspense," Kerpan says. "Keke is a singer as well. So, I think it was a moment for her to show she is a true fan and inspired by his artistry first and foremost, especially amidst all the conversation online."
Editing Palmer's performance was a lot of fun, Kerpan enthuses. "She is a true entertainer. There wasn't a shortage of usable takes. Sometimes, it can be a struggle to find engaging takes for music videos because not all musicians are necessarily good on camera. But Keke has been working on camera for 20 years, and it shows."
When Palmer steps out of the elevator, she has transformed into a version of Usher, wearing shades, a brown leather jacket and baggy jeans. She soon crosses paths with the real Usher, rocking the same outfit, and they joyfully dance amid the slot machines.
"It was meant to feel a bit mysterious, but playful to see them dancing together, and the audience is not sure who is real or not," Kerpan says.
The video ends with Palmer waking to a phone call in bed. Turns out she was dreaming and actually missed the Usher concert. She slept through it because she was so tired.
"I'm a mother, after all," Palmer says with a wink.
"Boyfriend" wraps with a fun bit of bonus content. It's an outtake from the shoot, during which Palmer receives a FaceTime from Usher. Judging by her reaction, Keke seems genuinely surprised to get that call.
"She truly didn't expect him to call her," Kerpan confirms. "They were just trying to finish shooting that scene where she answers a phone call to find out she overslept. Someone else had been playing the person on the line for all the takes up to this point, and then suddenly it was Usher calling."