More than Music

I have always had an intense obsession with the art form of music video. Rage influenced my childhood more than I’d like to admit – but it was never just about music (although Daft Punk at 9a.m. never hurt anyone). Film-clips gave musicians an additional platform to not only convey their tracks, but an effective tool they could use to speak to the masses that exceeded the lyrics of their songs. These days I feel it’s actually quite rare to find a film clip that correctly depicts the actual lyrics or narrative of the song. For my research project I want to analyse messages, statements and feelings that are conveyed in a variety of music videos and pinpoint the correlation to the lyrics if there is any. To do this I’ll be breaking it down into 3 categories (w4: gender/sexuality, w6: race/culture, w8: war/politics) and looking at them specifically. I have always thought of music videos as a powerful form of communication because of the influence that musicians have over such large populations. Now with access on every device we own through the youtube app, it is more relevant than ever.

We have seen this activism through music videos cover an enormous range of social, political, environmental and economic issues that need attention. Musicians and producers over the ages have found this loophole in an industry where shallow content is celebrated (now more than ever with money, hoe’s and substance abuse being a prolific focus) and refined it to convey important messages to the generations that can make a difference.

I think it would be interesting to study the comments on the videos, analyse the feedback the musicians are receiving and determine if the statements are being received in the intended manner and /or making a difference.

Stay tuned

11 thoughts on “More than Music

  1. I think that this is a really cool concept and idea to look into! Also being a music fanatic, I have also noticed that much of today’s music videos don’t relate to the exact lyrics, but they relate more of a vague narrative, or not even a narrative at all. I find it interesting that music videos nowadays are a little more abstract and rely on the audience to interpret what the message is. It would be interesting to see if you could find research on the creative process an artist and video director have when thinking up the video concept. I also like the different topics of focus that you will be breaking these videos down into. For your research are you going to solely focus on Western culture music videos? I think it would interesting to compare those of Western culture to those of K-pop or Asian rap? I recently read an article about American rapper OG Maco who was upset about Korean rapper Keith Ape’s music video. He assumed that Keith Ape was mocking Black culture. If you want to have a read, here’s the link: http://oogeewoogee.com/og-maco-accuses-korean-rapper-keith-ape-of-cultural-appropriation/
    The article also posted both music videos; I suggest you have a look! I’ve seen Keith Ape’s music video before (a friend of mine showed it to me last year) and it’s pretty entertaining…
    I myself have made a music video (fan made) for my video art class and it would be interesting (for me) to go back and analyze it; see how accurate I depicted the lyrics through my visual. I can’t wait to continue reading your upcoming blog posts and see your analyses.

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  2. I always enjoy watching new video clips and seeing how an artist’s music is represented visually so I’m interested to see how you breakdown your three categories. I think that rather than video clips not representing lyrics accurately, it just so happens that your average Top 40 playlist will include a lot of songs that are made to get people dancing so the video clips instead are made to look adventurous and get people pumped up. The k-pop industry actually has a heavy focus on video clips and there is quite a bit of hype from fans when popular groups release new ones – there are even teasers leading up to the release to get people excited. In terms of race, you could look at Coldplay’s latest song Hymn for the Weekend which has been accused of cultural appropriation and see how people reacted to the video, possibly looking at both sides of the story.

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  3. This is a great idea for a topic. I think music videos are a great way for artists to use their social status and fame to promote a message, even if the lyrics in their song don’t necessarily relate. Beyonce’s latest music video Formation, has been credited for its powerful message on black lives and police brutality. This article (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/arts/music/beyonce-formation-super-bowl-video.html?_r=0) for the NY Times presents a really interesting conversation on the video between a music critic and journalist, which you might find interesting. I also think it’s a really good idea using the sub-headings to break down your research to cover a variety of videos and messages.

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  4. I totally agree with you that music videos don’t always represent the lyrics. Remember when music videos used to be of the singer/band so people would know who sang the song? Now it seems to be the wilder the better! Which is not a bad thing, it’s entertaining. But in some cases I definitely think that the video should match the lyrics, especially with more ‘serious’ songs. I’m really curious to see what you find out.

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  5. Is it worth looking at the money to be made in music videos, or rather lack of (http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/business/why-music-videos-are-dead.html), and exploring this as a possible reason for the way some music videos are produced in a ‘vanity video’ style production? The current days music videos which require complex ideas, effects, or stagings, tend to need lots of money poured into them. Just to give you some perspective, enjoy this list of the most expensive music videos (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_music_videos). Cost of a Music Video (http://www.ecgprod.com/why-music-videos-dont-cost-500-00/) (https://www.indigoprod.com/nyc-video-production-blog/2013/08/how-much-does-it-cost-to-make-a-music-video/) Steven Spielberg on music videos: p.149 (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=5E80Tv7F3zIC&pg=PA149&lpg=PA149&dq=why+dont+music+videos+tell+stories&source=bl&ots=EDGtM3H3jI&sig=qgmzoJDVkT_oDLq3uA1bTahmgjM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjR_P77zurLAhVFFpQKHfnUDoEQ6AEIUjAJ#v=onepage&q=why%20dont%20music%20videos%20tell%20stories&f=false)

    The flip side is however, that it tends to be a short clip which can engage the audience well, because typically the audience is already a fan and looking to hear/see more. Perhaps analysing the targeted audience and their engagements is another research option you could take.

    You also have some more abstract music videos where the messages can be more difficult to decipher, which could be another possible avenue of exploration. Are music videos always meant to have a clear cut message, or can they leave some ideas up to the viewer? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCCXq9QB-dQ) (https://prezi.com/xcomuc2c1kgh/abstract-music-videos/)

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  6. Hey, I think Rage started my love of music videos too! I agree that video clips are a great way for artists to extend their message. I think the three categories you’ve chosen are very relevant and it’s a good idea to also look at the feedback artists get for their music videos. M.I.A has two music videos that involve content around war/politics (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeMvUlxXyz8, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-Nw7HbaeWY), both of which were temporarily removed from Youtube. It would be interesting to see the role Youtube plays as gatekeeper to political/controversial music videos, what are the policies around what is allowed/banned?
    It could also be interesting to look into Troye Sivan’s music videos, which explore sexuality/homophobia (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxg222-hWWc). Interestingly, he also developed his music career through generating an audience on his Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/TroyeSivan18/featured) – so many layers of cyberculture!

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  7. A lot of the time the song and the video seem to be telling two different stories and it’s so easy to get lost in them. If I’m watching a video clip for the first time I always try and find the connection between the lyrics and what is being shown. I think it’s getting harder and harder. They all seem to show the same thing, which you mentioned being shallow content. I studied Pearl Jam’s Jeremy during high school and that so clearly paints a picture. More often than not, videos are made today just to be aesthetically pleasing- throw in some cool landscape shots and it’s done. I’m interested in seeing your results and seeing if these musicians fans are accepting the music videos for what they are or if they’re calling them out for their repetitive scenes.

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  8. This is a really awesome and interesting topic I’m really excited to read your gender/sexuality, race/culture andwar/politics music video blogs as you break them up over the next 3 blogs. I found it interesting that you’ve noted that modern film clips are quite disjointed from the lyrics of the songs. It’s became a trend to just make an aesthetic looking video instead of trying to correlate with the lyrics and convey a certain message. You should look at music videos by M.I.A they often relate to the political message behind her music.

    http://mic.com/articles/4080/what-mia-s-new-bad-girls-video-says-about-arabs#.vIYoDEq6X

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  9. Ooh! Sweet concept! It could be really cool to see as a part of your research a breakdown of how music videos have developed over time, looking at how they’ve moved from simple “the band stands there and sings”, through to I think it was Queen’s ground breaking Bohemian Rhapsody film clip, through to videos telling stories with Michael Jackson (like Thriller), to videos where the musician has no control over the direction of the clip, and into people like WOODKID who was a music video director turned musician who had the ability and opportunity to make his own clips, not necessarily making literal video representations of his lyrics but making clips that contribute to the piece as a whole in one way or another and connect to eachother very obviously (for example Iron [ http://bit.ly/1X1VjSl ] connecting straight into Run Boy Run [ http://bit.ly/1PJkZxa ]).

    I mean, there’s SO MUCH you could talk about, and so many iconic music videos that you could look at inside of these wider trends (I’d love to see where OK Go on the treadmills fits in and how it impacted the music video trends around it). Good luck with your project, it’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out!

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  10. You raise a good point about musicians rarely making videos that have any relation to the content. It seems like they’re more focused on a video that is going to gain major publicity, rather than actually telling the story of the song through their video. Most of the time it seems the clips are just filled with attractive guys and girls, because that is unfortunately is what is going to sell. Its sad to think that some artists feel restricted by what they can release because they need to put something out that is going to draw awareness to the band, rather than releasing the message/story they’re trying to tell.

    Only recently I watched a film clip by Bring Me The Horizon and thought if, I didn’t listen to the song and only watched the video and then re-watched the video with the music, I would’ve completely understood the meaning behind the song. Which is something that I thought was very refreshing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tVWt2RDsoM

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  11. Yes! A super interesting and relevant topic! Sadly yes it is apparent that for a lot of song released today, the music’s meaning has become lost in translation when it comes to their video clips. A major flaw I find is that sex really does sell. Whilst it may not be blatant porn, scantily clad women (and even men) featuring and engaging in basic tasks such as walking into a party scene is apparently more interesting than a landscape shot or even a fully clothed person walking into a party. Producers are leveraging the physical assets of people because it is indeed what entertains and keep audiences. In saying this, of course there are great video clips with no hint of sexuality but it seems it is the easiest and cheapest way to amass views.

    I think some great examples of true artistry and creativity across all fields such as music, dance choreography and costume and set design are Sia’s music videos, more specifically “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart”. The video clips are confusing, confronting, intriguing and ultimately provoke thought and a reaction. The song lyrics are about Sia’s battle with mental health issues and this also translates through the erratic dancing, the bare and vulnerable costumes and the confined settings such as the small roomed house and the cage. These were meticulously thought out themes and motifs within the visuals which relate to the lyrics and meaning behind the songs and even more so considering these video clips were part of a trilogy.

    I think it would be worthwhile for you to find both songs and video clips which reflect each other successfully and unsuccessfully and compare and contrast the strong and weak points in both to ascertain what really does make a good video clip.

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