Styles, Conventions, and Techniques of Music Videos(And Purposes!)So, first things first. What is a music video? Well, simply put, a music video is a short film or video that is used in conjunction with a song or other piece of music, usually with the aim of promoting and marketing the song, however, some artists may release a music video solely for artistic purposes. Even though the roots of music videos stem back much further, they first came into the spotlight in the 1980s, when MTV based their format and entire branding around them.
These videos use a wide range of styles, and techniques, including but not limited to: animation, live action, referencing, and many more. In this assignment, I intend to cover and explain the various styles, techniques, and conventions used in these videos.StylesAs LiveAs Live or Concert footage captures the experience and vibe of seeing the artist or band performing their music live, this can be either live footage captured during a real performance, or a staged performance, which is recorded in a studio or other such environment. This type of video creates a realistic feel, and allows the viewers to experience the song as if they were at the convert themselves, or watching the band live, allowing them to gain a small part of that unique of that sensation. It is usually used by punk or rock bands, as an advertisement for their live performances, as their tours are usually a higher source of income than that of album and single sales. https://www.
youtube.com/watch?v=lvs68OKOquMLinkin Park’s ‘Talking To Myself’ from the One More Light album is deeply personal track, written by Bennington from his wife Talinda Bentley’s point of view as she watched him battle his own demons – such as his struggles with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life – and as such they took a more personal approach with the music video for the song. The Mark Fiore-edited-and-directed music video follows the band’s tour throughout Europe and now serves as a particularly moving memento following the unfortunate passing of Bennington. The lead singer is featured constantly in the video, be it onstage performing, or backstage hanging out with his bandmates.It provides the viewers with a window through the usual glamour and fog of stardom, providing the fans a fitting tribute to Chester Bennington, which is sourced by stirring visuals of the band on tour, playing sold-out shows to massive crowds of screaming admirers and fans. Director Fiore may not have intended the video as a tribute, but in the wake of Bennington’s sudden passing, it has become just that.AnimatedAnimated music videos are a fast growing form of music videos, which are gaining a lot of popularity within the market.
It is most common in the Indie Rock and Dance genres, however, it is still used by the other genres. It can be split into three sub-genres, which are traditional hand-drawn, stop motion, and digital video. This style tends to be very quirky, as there really is no limit to what you can produce, due to the wonders that are available to us via Animation.https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=FufL80hJsP8The example I have chosen is the song Bones by The Killers. I have chosen this animated video in particular however, as “Bones” marks the music video directing debut of critically acclaimed director Tim Burton. Burton took clips of the band and edited them onto a CGI background, as well as adding in a Tim Burton staple, skeletons. The video also stars two film and television stars, Michael Steger and Devon Aoki. Tim also edited scenes from various films, such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, Jason the Argonauts, and Lolita – mainly using astounding Animator Ray Harryhausen’s dynamation skele-men – displaying these scenes on the movie screen behind the band. Two other films are also alluded to, as the beach scenes from films ‘From Here to Eternity’ and ’10’ are recreated with skeleton figures. Eventually, the band themselves become skeletons as well, falling to pieces on cue with the final note.
This video could not have been achieved without animation, as they would not have been able to add the skeletal forms which make up the majority of the video. Also, the inclusion of such a well known animator as Tim Burton would allow the band to appeal to fans of Burton’s films, and vice versa.InterpretiveEvery music video is interpreted by the audience watching it. The viewers will watch a band’s video and leave it having taken their own meaning from it, different for each person depending on their personal opinions and knowledge. With no set meaning for the video, those watching the video are free to assign it whatever meaning they wish. This can cause conflict and debates within the fanbase, as well as developing a deeper complexity within the video.
Interpretive videos can sometimes be so deep they are seen as art, allowing the audience to gain a deeper connection with the artist.https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=M42EoG1QPnU The video I have used is ‘Crossfire’ by Stephen. This video tackles some serious issues; from gun violence and racism to homelessness and police brutality. However, as with all good Interpretive videos, it’s unclear exactly what the plot of the video is.
What I gathered from it though, is that the black demonic figure being chased represents the media and government in america, as it is literally ‘pulling the wool over their eyes’ and preventing them from seeing the issues in the world, such as all of the homeless people, who they just walk past, somehow not seeing them. Towards the start of the video however, a man who doesn’t have the wool over his eyes turns up, holding a torch. He waves this torch over people’s eyes, ‘showing them the light,’ and removing the wool from their eyes, allowing them to see the world as it really is.
There is also the police officer character, who encounters the creature, and gives chase, eventually trying to kill and stop it. However, the man with the torch from earlier is sadly caught in the crossfire, and is shot, as the wool falls from the police officer’s eyes, showing him what he has done. As the man falls, a crowd of blinded photographers and reporters swarm around him, all blindly reporting on what has happened, and the police officer is pulled away from the scene, having the wool pulled back over his eyes.
This video speaks to me on many levels, but I feel like the best way to describe it, is how the artist himself does – “There is a cultural misconception that tragedies require the assignment of blame. Who’s fault was it? Who’s the bad guy? We only see the aftermath and yet we make up our minds without ever seeing the events leading up. I don’t believe it’s ever this simple, so we created a video that would reveal the complexity of one of today’s most controversial and frequent tragedies.”NarrativeA narrative video usually contains footage that attempts to tell the audience a story. All music videos that are of the narrative genre tend to have a storyline that is linked to the lyrical content of the song, however, this is not always the case.
Videos of this genre tend to be very popular with songs that are related to a movie, and as such, scenes from said move are usually cut into the video, to reinforce that link.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6MOKXm8x50 The example I am using is ‘Dance, Dance’ by Fall Out Boy. In ‘Dance, Dance’ we follow a young couple, going to the dance at their high school. As well as this, the members of the band are both on stage performing, and each play a different character in the story, which we individually follow. The lyrics of the song also follow the narrative, as the song is called ‘Dance, Dance.
‘Surrealist The definition of surreal is ‘A style of art and literature that is stressing the subconscious or non rational significance of imagery arrived at by automatism or the exploitation of chance effects,unexpected juxtapositions, etc.’ Some artists and music video directors attempt to use this artistic style to create a surreal video, with the intent of appealing the viewers senses, as well leaving a long lasting impression of the video on the audience. as deo to appeal to the audience’s senses and leave a long lasting impression of the music video. By doing this it creates interest for the video and therefore profit. It can also enhance or support the personality of the artist, as if it is a crazy video it would reflect on the artists crazy persona. https://www.
youtube.com/watch?v=RB-RcX5DS5A ‘Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ is a surreal video, as the whole video is presented backwards, even though the story appears to be told chronologically. What also adds to the video is that the lead singer Chris Martin had to lip-sync the song, even though it is in reverse. Therefore, Martin had to learn to mouth the lyrics backwards, in order for them to be correct when the video was reversed. This video uses its surreal style to leave a lasting impression on the viewer, and show off Coldplay as a creative and interesting band.PasticheA pastiche video is when a music video imitates the style of another artist, or of another piece of media. Pastiche videos are different than parody videos however, as unlike parody videos, pastiche videos usually tend to celebrate whoever they are imitating, other than ridiculing.
This is usually used as a respectful way of referencing other people’s work, whilst allowing them to have fun with the idea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PkcfQtibmU I’ve chosen the Foo Fighters’ video, Walk. The video is a near identical re-creation of 1993 film, ‘Falling Down,” which follows the prototypical ‘angry white male’ character. In the original film, this character was played by actor Michael Douglas, who fit this stereotype to a tee, including the crew cut and short-sleeved white work shirt.
During the film Douglas is pushed to the edge by what he sees as the ‘society’s decay,’ ranging from crime, greed, bureaucracy, immigrants, and even the fact that McDonald’s stops serving their breakfast menu after 10:30AM, which then causes him to go on a violent rampage throughout the city, which culminates in a stand-off with the police, eventually leading to his death. Walk near identically follows this formula, with the only difference between Douglas and Grohl being the lead singer’s lustrous mane. If one was to watch the music video alongside, they’d note similarities all throughout, and fans of the film may feel that it pays a respectable homage to the cult classic.ReferencingA referencing music video is when a band or artist honours and pays tribute to another video, film, video, pop culture reference, or any type of media, by taking the key figures, but not straight up stealing it. The artists will copy certains elements of the video, without creating an exact copy.
It helps appeal to a band’s audience, as if they know the original source material, they will feel in the loop, allowing them to enjoy the video at a greater length. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97v9Z9qMI-4 A good example of this is The Wanted ‘She Walks Rihanna.’ Throughout the video, the band members – Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, Tom Parker, and Nathan Sykes – impersonate many classic boy bands, dressing identically to the other bands, as well as mimicking the iconic scenes from the videos.
Firstly, they all get strung up like puppets to mimic the iconic NSync video, Bye Bye Bye, copying their outfits to a tee, before proceeding to don matching white suits to pay tribute to Backstreet Boys’ classic ‘I Want it That Way’ video. They finish it all off by referencing musical stalwarts Take That’s Back For Good, making sure to give homage to the ‘slow-dance-in-the-rain-wearing-long-coats’ style in an extremely over-the-top-fashion.ConventionsLyric InterpretationLyric Interpretation is how the audience watches a music video in relation to the lyrical content of a song. This convention is very popular, as people are fickle, and we like to have our own views and ideas about what things mean. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIFLtNYI3Ls The song “Just” is a single by the band Radiohead. The video follows a man who stops walking in the middle of a street and lies down, refusing to move.
After one person trips over him, and various people gather around him, trying to figure out why he is lying there on the floor. All dialogue in the video is muted, and replaced only by subtitles. After spending the whole video refusing to let anybody know why he is on the ground, he finally decides to tell them at the end, and as he does, the subtitles cut out.
This is followed by a quick cut, with the next shot showing all of the crowd who had been surrounding him lying next to him on the ground. This leaves us wondering what he could have said that changed the crowd’s mind and got them to lie down with him. This made the video very effected, as people are more likely to remember the video than the song, granting them more recognition.
Extending or Consolidating a Song’s MeaningAnother convention of music videos is when they extend or consolidate a song’s meaning. This is usually done to capture the audience’s attention, and play with their emotions. The director of the video will attempt to expand the meaning of the song in an attempt to tug at the heartstrings of the viewer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAfyFTzZDMM For example, the song ‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera. This video for beautiful consists of many people standing and lying around naked, whilst all looking unhappy, because of their bodies and the way they look.
The director has gone in this direction with the video because they know they can relate with a large amount of people. The lyrics of the song are ‘I am beautiful, no matter what they say.” Aguilera is trying to get this message through in the video, pretty much saying that it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s what’s inside that counts.AllusionAllusion is a convention that is very similar to the artistic styles referencing and pastiche.
It is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance. It doesn’t go in depth into what it is referencing, however it is very obvious what the song is about.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuNTO31FlY8 The video for Avril Lavigne’s “Rock N Roll” stars actress Danica McKellar as a character called “Winnie Cooperre”. She and Lavigne share a kiss, and then Avril does a voiceover saying “It was the first kiss for both of us. We never really talked about it afterward. But I think about the events of that day again and again, and somehow I know Winnie does too”.
This line is a direct quote from the pilot episode of show that McKellar starred on as character Winnie Cooper, “The Wonder Years”. TechniquesCamera Angles and MovementsLike in any form of digital media, there is a plethora of different camera movements, each used for different reasons; videos usually tend to start with an establishing shot, to set the scene, mid-shots and close-ups will be used to see the band/artist’s face, extreme close-ups usually help capture emotion, such as a tear rolling down a cheek to set a sad tone, or a extreme close-up of happy smile to show joy, and a long shot is usually used to show the location of a closer scene, giving us viewers a better understanding of the vibe of the video. As well as this, certain movements are also used depending on the mood and style of the video, if you’re tracking the band, a continuous shot will be used, where as a panning shot will be used to capture large areas of environment. https://youtu.
be/CW5oGRx9CLM I’ve chosen the False Alarm video by The Weeknd, as the style it has been shot in is very unique, and I haven’t seen another video in the same style. The video itself is shot entirely in first person, meaning that we – the viewers – are following the story of one of the bank robbers, and their escape from the heist. This use of a first person camera is very clever, as combined with the fast-paced action sequences, it gives the video a very video game first-person shooter feel, which will appeal to fans of that genre, whilst still appealing to his previous audience as well. The video was directed by Ilya Naishuller, who is known for his first-person camera style, having directed the film Hardcore Henry, and another music video of a similar style, ‘Biting Elbows – Bad Motherfucker.’Chroma KeySimply put, Chroma Key is when a music video is shot in front of a blue or green screen.
It is done by putting a block colour behind the artist or band, which can then be edited out for another video or a picture. Chroma Key is usually used by a band or artist to achieve something that is impossible to do in real life, like flying, being in space, or a dystopian setting, as is a personal favourite of Linkin Park.https://youtu.
be/DGKooDSzFy4 Probably the most obscure song on this list, I’ve chosen the song ‘Can’t We Go Back’ by the band Jackalope. They have used Chroma Key in this video to allow them to appear in front of and on various impressionist paintings, whilst still playing the piano. This was achieved by the lead singer and the rest of the band standing, in front of the green screen with their instruments, which has then been removed post edit, replaced with the various paintings needed. As well as this, this band change their outfits and the colours of the piano to match the painting they’re in, which helps add to the overall effect of the video.
Multi-ImageMulti-Image is an common effect in music videos, as it adds some coherency to the video, due to how it is usually cut to the beat. It is also popular because it shows more than one scene on the screen, allowing you to tell a story much more effectively.https://youtu.be/lvs68OKOquMCircling all the way back to the first music video I used, my example for Multi-image is Linkin Park’s talking to myself. It displays Multi-Image, as for the majority of the video it is split into sections, each showing something different.
Multi-Image is effective in this example because it allows them to effectively montage all of their footage from the tour, showcasing the trip and the crowds from the gig.PurposesPromotionalThe primary purpose of a music video is to be used by studios and record companies to help them sell a song, triggering a reaction so that the public and most importantly the target audience will remember the song. This gives the audience a visual representation of the song, allowing the audience to understand the song better than so they might have previously, which will make the video more memorable than it may have been previously.
The video needs to be entertaining in order to be memorable, as this is the best way to gain further downloads and album purchases. Some music videos uploaded to sites such as youtube can go viral, causing their videos to be globally seen, essentially kick starting their career. They an also help promote an Artist’s image. This is done by attaching the song to real life experiences or the recreation of events that happened in the artist’s life.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTAAsCNK7RA A perfect example of a music video being used to promote an artist is ‘Here it Goes Again’ by OK Go.
It was one of – if not the first music video to go viral on the internet, due to the wacky, and unique style of the video. The success of the video caused the band’s notoriety to skyrocket, kickstarting their career. It also helped brand them as a band, as OK Go is now known for their creative and unique style of music videos.Extension of outletsBeing a visual form, music videos can be released on a plethora of different platforms, such as facebook, instagram, etc. In the past, music videos would have been released on TV channels such as MTV.
Labels would have worked with these channels to ensure that their videos get shown, paying for TV spots, so their videos are shown a certain number of times during the day. However, due to the ever changing world, music videos are usually extended to online sources such as YouTube, but can also be uploaded to news platform and online magazines.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8r-tXRLazs Arguably the best song to display an extension of outlets is ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ by The Buggles. This was the very first song to ever be played on MTV, played directly after footage of the moon landing. The release of this video on MTV caused the band to become far more popular than they had ever been, as well as causing a new surge of media, as more and more music videos were created.SynergySynergy is when different media outlets work together, to allow cross platform promotion of different products.
An example is a music star producing a music video that features scenes from a recent film, or TV Series, in return for the song being featured within the film or show. An example of this would be Imagine Dragon’s ‘Sucker for Pain’ which was written for the 2016 film ‘Suicide Squad’. It featured various scenes from the film within the video, and the song itself played at a key moment during the film, or ‘World Gone Mad’ by Bastille, which was written for, contains footage, and stars in the Netflix Original ‘Bright’, released late 2017.
This technique is very successful, as both the film and the song are being promoted by by each other, which doubles the effective audience for both pieces. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-59jGD4WrmEhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOksZ8VogRw