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Rihanna’s Star Trek-Themed Music Video for “Sledgehammer” Breaks Out the Neon Pastels

Rihanna’s “Sledgehammer” already made its debut a couple days ago in the most recent Star Trek Beyond trailer, and it’s been streaming on Spotify since then, but we didn’t have the official music video for the song until today. It’s here, and it’s a glorious trip through a pastel-hued desert planet on which Rihanna summons swarms of alien birds and dances with sparkling holographic shapes.

There isn’t much Star Trek stuff in the video, aside from a shot of the Enterprise at the very beginning and then another shot of the ship again at the very end. Still, it’s got a space opera vibe and an undeniable mixture of colors that all seem inspired by the 1960s hues of The Original Series. Take, for example, the pastel wall in the background of this photo of the original cast, and then add a bunch of neon sparkles into the mix, and you’ve got the aesthetic for this eye-popping music video.

As for the music itself, the song reminds me of something, but I’m not sure what. In some ways, it reminds me of the opening strains of a trailer for that other space opera … not that I want to make that comparison, but c’mon, can’t you hear the similarity there? Sure, they’re one note off from each other, and “Sledgehammer” moves much faster and has more urgency; it also has brighter synthesized strings, as opposed to the warm sound of an orchestra. The slight modernization of the synth sounds in comparison gives “Sledgehammer” a more futuristic vibe. Plus, there’s actual vocals, which definitely feels different from the epic instrumentals that we’ve come to expect from sci-fi fare. Still, there’s something about it that feels familiarly epic.

I’ve been listening to “Sledgehammer” since it came out, and this music video feels like a beautiful counterpart. It’s not like one of those videos where there’s a bunch of scenes from the movie that don’t seem to fit with anything; instead, it feels like something that could take place within Star Trek, just a planet or two away from wherever our heroes happen to be.

(via Twitter)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (