Creative analysis, TV

Exploring my love of music videos

listening to music v2

I’ve been on a music buying spree recently. My MP3 player is reaching full capacity again. There are tunes that I could never have imagined listening to, eating away like earworms in my head.

The cycle is always the same: hear something on the radio > check out the music video > check out several more music videos by the same artist > find albums on Amazon > buy.

That music video step is important to me. I’m someone who listens to most music for its lyrical content and music videos give me a way of further understanding the narrative of a song and/or its themes. So my latest album purchase, St. Vincent’s new (self-titled) album has one particular track with an accompanying video that really shows a strong appreciation for the song’s content. That track and video is “Digital Witness”, which analyses the content of the lyrics really well, with its representations of today’s media obsessed, always online, over sharing society:

Just don’t dance around for the entire video

I’m not overly fond of “let’s have people dancing in a provocative manner and that’s all we’ll have” videos (“Blurred Lines” is the epitome of this). I’m also not that fond of, “let’s just have the band playing” (“Song 2” is guilty of this) videos. It kind of made sense that these sorts of things might have existed in the early days of music videos, because people were still getting to grips with the form. But now?

Okay, sex sells and filming a band playing is far cheaper than storyboarding something that has a story or tries to look at what’s being discussed in a song. To me, if your idea for a music video is either sexy “dancing” or a band playing with nothing analysing the content of the song (also see standing around solo artist singing videos) then you shouldn’t bother making that music video – you’re clogging up YouTube and music channels with crap for the sake of having a video.  Keep the porn on porn sites and keep the bands standing in front of you, plugging away, for gigs and concerts.

Of course if your song is mostly about having sex… there’s probably little hope for anything of substance to be made from it if the team behind the video can’t get their thinking caps on. If it’s sex and relationships then that’s a different matter – there’s more to play with. And what about visual metaphors? Pop videos can have some artistry to them and you don’t have to be Spike Jonze to make them, damn it.

What makes a good music video

I would say that when music channels bother to show current music videos few meet what I personally think a video needs to contain in order to be a good music video. In order to be good, for me, a video needs to have at least one of the following:

A metaphorical representation of the song’s subject matter

and/or

A story that has some relation to the song

and/or

A literal representation of the song’s subject matter

You can have people dancing or playing or singing, but you still need at least one of the above elements.

11 of my favourite music videos (NSFW)

Metaphors + literal + sex:

Dancing and metaphors:

Story and band:

Fantastic dancing and metaphors

Story and metaphors:

Story and metaphors:

Metaphors:

Everything:

Story and metaphors:

Story and literal:

Story and metaphors:

But…

Some suggest that we’ve left the “golden era” of music videos, however as people now consume music videos less and less via music channels and mostly by online video services this offers an opportunity to really push the creative box. I hope that bands and artists are given the opportunities and resources to produce the music videos that their songs deserve.

It’s not only sex that sells, interesting does too.

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2 thoughts on “Exploring my love of music videos

    • That’s a very well timed AMV – use to watch those sorts of thing a lot when I was into amine more.

      Just realised that the video for Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” is a bad music video.

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