Thirteen years ago, “Intuition” was released (on May 6, 2003, to be exact). As the first single from her fourth album, 0304, it marked Jewel’s transition into the world of electronic music—no coincidence considering the acoustic, overly sentimental girl rock of the 1990s quickly faded out of fashion in favor of midriffs and assless chaps at the dawn of 2000. The irony of this commercialization of herself stemmed from the fact that, by transcending into the mainstream, Jewel was also blatantly making fun of the industry. Her exploration of the ever-changing landscape of media and the need of both consumers and performers to cater to the latest trends is not only manifested in the lyrics of the song, but the accompanying video as well.
Intermixing home movie-like footage of the streets of L.A. with glamorized visions of it, Jewel shows us life through an unfiltered and filtered lens, and how choosing to see things through the former is better than buying into the lie. At first meandering through the streets of downtown amid homeless bench sleepers and malaise-possessing businessmen going to work, Jewel stops at a hot dog stand to buy not a hot dog (perhaps strategically as a statement on self-imposed body image), but a soda. And so begins the thinly veiled vitriolic genius of the video. The soda is portrayed Repo Man-style in that instead of having the brand name of Sprite written on it, the bottle simply says Soda with a tag line that comes up assuring “Jewel Refreshes.” And if her blown open button-up shirt exposing her breasts doesn’t refresh you, then surely her dancing seductively in front of a neon sign espousing “JEWEL” with some dollar signs and the mantra “BIG PIMPIN” (another dated reference) thrown in for good measure will.
For as inspirational as the song is, its visual complement is dripping with satire, serving as the cynical mid-90s facet of Jewel’s personality (see: “Who Will Save Your Soul?”) that she couldn’t quite shed in order to fit in with the pre-fitted mold of the sexed up early 00s era. And while her preceding album, 2001’s This Way, dabbled cursorily with the notion of shifting to a more dance-friendly genre (“Serve the Ego,” the fourth single from This Way, was remixed for clubs and reached number one on the Billboard dance chart in 2002), she was overtly hesitant to let go of her folk ties, as evidenced by tracks like “Cleveland” and “Love Me Just Leave Me Alone,” which embodied her predilection for a traditional country/folk sound (a passion that would ultimately reach its pinnacle on 2008’s Perfectly Clear).
After getting our fair eyeful of Jewel dancing in front of her own personal road warning, we transition briefly back to a “Detour Ahead” sign that morphs from promoting Jewel’s name, whereupon our attention is shifted from the flashing lights to a group of men talking near a park. The scene then freezes on the back of their jeans and a Levi’s-esque ad is created with the logo replaced by JEWEL and the tag line “Make her your own.” Not just a revamp of the brand’s mantra, this reworking refers to the average pop star’s malleability to the will of what a label wanted them to be—bear in mind, this was still back when labels were the end-all, be-all way to achieve international fame, a pre-2006 musical climate that didn’t yet know you could become well-known through MySpace. Even P!nk’s 2001 single “Don’t Let Me Get Me” makes reference to this prevalent frustration among non-cookie cutter female pop stars as she laments, “Tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears/She’s so pretty/That just ain’t me.” This sentiment only grew stronger as the straw that broke the camel’s back, P2P sharing, brought down the once thought to be untouchable music business. And, to be sure, Jewel’s “Intuition” was an undeniable solidifier of this downfall.
Next on the video’s docket for entities to poke fun at, an ordinary game of one-on-one basketball transforms into a Nike commercial—though Jewel doesn’t bother trying to emulate the logo (presumably for lawsuit reasons), preferring to opt for the recognizable phrase “Jewel Does It.” The crosswalk nearby gets a makeover, too, with the silhouette of a curvaceous woman serving as the replacement for the average shapeless green man. From there, Jewel struts down the street in her alternate glossy reality as camera flashbulbs lead to magazine covers.
The levity of her basking in the glow of fame is contrasted by the tenseness of protesters of corporate greed shouting and carrying banners in the downtown area, one of whom suddenly bursts into a somersault and enters onto the set of a cornrowed Jewel’s alternate “Intuition” music video appearing at number one on TRL (yes, the indications of the time period keep coming). The fan comment scrolling across the screen, “Jewel’s music sounds so much better now that she’s dancing. I love it! SCRREEEEAAAMMMM Kieran from Anchorage, AK” (Jewel always acknowledges those Alaskan roots), indicates another dig at what music listeners are willing to buy music for: a woman who shakes her ass.
It is here that Jewel’s feministic nature is most evident. Categorized as “one of those Lilith Fair types” for the majority of her career, she was cast off for not being sexual enough, just like her peers, Alanis Morissette and Sarah MacLachlan. And it was because no one expected them to be sexual that they were separated from other women as “intellectuals” incapable of having anything other than a niche or militant lesbian audience. Whereas your Jennifer Paiges (remember “Crush”?) and Britney Spearses of the 1998-1999 era were easily classifiable in terms of being firmly in the generate income column of record executives’ mental checklist.
Jewel’s arsenal of contempt doesn’t cease as the faux music video segues to the homeless man on the bench we saw before dozing away as some art handlers carrying a painting of a beach tableau walk by. Suddenly, his discarded beer bottle becomes an homage to a Corona ad, with Jewel Extra replacing the logo and the tag “Change Your Attitude™” appearing underneath. The crescendo of Jewel’s satire culminates with a fire engine coming to put out a blaze turning into her and a group of fellow scantily clad dancers showing off their best fireman-chic ensembles. Jewel then gets personally hosed down by a bevy of sexy firemen before reality kicks in at 11:36 p.m., according to the home movie time at the bottom right corner.
What it all boils down to is that everything can be bought and sold for the right price (or even the wrong one) as Jewel cajoles, “Sell your sin, just cash in.” Almost a self-deprecating remark for doing so in her own way by shifting to a more palatable musical genre, this is her cautionary method for making people think twice about what they’re willing to exchange their integrity for. Elsewhere, she mocks, “You learned cool from magazines/You learned love from Charlie Sheen.” By goading her audience, Jewel seeks to wake them up. And, while the video for “Intuition” may just be another in the annals of buried early 00s nostalgia, in its time and place it was a reminder that music could still be ironic, intelligent and serve a message—all in one pretty little pop package.