will.i.am’s weird tribute to ‘British culture’ shows he’s not quite a Drake-level Anglophile

The 'Fiyah' video is adorably off the mark

Drake’s new playlist ‘More Life’ championed Britishness. Not only did it feature Skepta, Giggs, Jorja Smith and Sampha – there was also a smattering of British slang from the Canadian rapper himself. And since he released the 22-song playlist, Drake – one of the biggest music stars on the planet – has helped turn the world’s attention to some of the best contemporary British music. All of those who featured on the record are enjoying streaming boosts in the US as a result.

Will.i.am has clearly noticed an increase in the Britain’s international cool stakes – shut up, we’re just talking music here – because he’s prefaced his new video ‘FIYAH’ with the grandiose proclamation: “IN APPRECIATION OF BRITISH CULTURE.” It sounds like a sweet and genuine message from a guy who’s spent six years hosting a British talent competition (The Voice), but what follows actually shows the depth of his immersion in British culture thus far. Whereas Drake recently bought the rights to gritty UK drama Top Boy, Will.i.am has set his ‘British’ video on the set of Coronation Street, which he visited two months ago. A spokesperson for ITV’s The Voice explained to MailOnline that after his visit, he kept “saying how much he loved being there”. The Rovers Return! That’s where it’s at, isn’t it Will?

Apart from the fact that it’s set in and around a pub, nothing about the video screams ‘British culture’. Its title, ‘FIYAH’, is an adjective that Will is really trying to make happen, a bit like Mean Girls‘ ‘fetch’. In the middle of the video there’s a bizarre approximation of the ‘Thriller’ dance, which may be a tribute to MJ – though whether MJ would see it as such is hard to say. It looks like the video’s choreographer quit and Will took their place last-minute.


Then there’s the ‘British’ outfits everyone is wearing. Oh, and speaking of outfits, listen again to the line “I’m buttoned up like this.” That’s not a British term – that’s just calling your attention to the fact that Will.i.am has just brought out a range of headphones called Buttons, which everyone in the video is being forced to wear and which he’d very much like you to buy, please. When you don’t have them in your ears, these headphones’ earpieces magnetically connect into a wearable necklace, a bit like those flowery lanyards your granny has for her reading specs. Trendy!

This ‘appreciation of British culture’ may be an entirely empty marketing ploy, but there’s really no point feeling any negativity about it. It’s all just so adorably off the mark. Watch below, go on: it’ll cheer you up.