In the years since pop girl group Fifth Harmony split up to focus on solo projects, Normani has been hard at work letting the world know just who she is. Her dance and vocal talents were apparent in her days with the group, but as a solo artist, “Normani” quickly became the name on everyone’s lips.
Now, two years after the release of her debut solo single “Motivation,” Normani is back with “Wild Side,” a sultry departure from “Motivation”’s pop sensibilities, complete with a guest appearance by Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B.
“Wild Side” is Normani and Cardi B’s first time collaborating musically, but not their first time working together. Normani made a surprise appearance in the music video for “WAP,” Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s earth-shattering single from last year. The song is expected to be the lead single from Normani’s forthcoming debut solo album, though it remains unclear just when it will be released and what it will be called. A sample of Aaliyah’s 1996 hit “One in a Million” forms the basis of the track, with the Princess of R&B’s spirit alive and well a quarter-century after the song’s release.
The music video features Normani doing what she does best: complex choreography combined with captivating vocals. The visual was directed by Tanu Muino, who directed Cardi B’s “Up” video; Sean Bankhead, Normani’s choreographer for “Motivation,” created the moves behind “Wild Side.”
For a song seemingly better suited for a late night in bed than at the club, Janet Jackson-esque dance routines might seem like an unconventional choice. But just like Jackson, Normani can sing seductive R&B songs and hit every beat with precise moves — often at the same time. Some moves call to mind her choreographed segment at Rihanna’s 2019 Savage X Fenty fashion show. In addition to the “Rhythm Nation”-style choreography and TLC-inspired visuals, Normani even pays tribute to Old Hollywood icon Debra Paget with one of her looks.
Minutes before “Wild Side”’s release, Normani went live on Instagram with Cardi B to talk about the experience recording the track and filming the video. Normani revealed that Cardi was actually last-minute addition to the song: she had already been rehearsing for the music video on her own for weeks before Cardi hopped on the track.
She later recounted in a statement just how Cardi’s involvement came about. “I had already been in rehearsal for about three weeks preparing for the video when Cardi heard the record for the first time,” the singer said. “She really showed up for me and brought this record to life by simply doing what Cardi does best. I love that woman down and I’m forever grateful.”