Missy Elliott has made her triumphant return to the world of music videos with a new single featuring Pharrell Williams, "WTF (Where They From)." It's the first video she's made since the clip for 2008 single "Ching-a-Ling," and it's serving as the first single for her upcoming seventh studio album, an LP that's been in the making for almost a decade. At her creative zenith, Missy made some of the funniest, most visually absorbing videos in the medium's history — my favorite is probably "Work It," but you can make a case for another half-dozen picks — and "WTF (Where They From)" slots into that proud tradition. There are precocious, dancing children, fluid choreographed sequences, a selection of astounding outfits, and plenty of plasticky, futuristic textures; if you're a Missy fan, it'll feel like home.
She's returned to musical prominence in 2015 after almost a decade underground, time she spent struggling with Graves' disease and recording sporadic features and buzz singles. She stole the Super Bowl halftime show from ostensible headliner Katy Perry with a set that included "Get Ur Freak On," "Work It," and "Lose Control," and she appeared on another artist's comeback effort when she guested on Janet Jackson's single "BURNITUP!" in September. "WTF (Where They From)" might feel a little out of place in today's musical climate — it sounds like it was plucked out of 2005 or 2006 — but it's a pleasure to have one of pop music's foremost visual stylists back in action.