What do you think the song is about?
How are the visuals and the song connected?
Music and the moving image go together. The earliest silent movies were often accompanied in the cinema by a pianist or an organist. However, it wasn’t until the early 1980’s and the advent of MTV that the music video became truly mainstream. With the rise of YouTube, a strong video can break a new artist.
There are many kinds of music video, but broadly they can be categorised in four ways.
The performance video shows the artist performing the song. In the earliest form, the musicians would be on stage playing their instruments in a replication of live performance. You may see performance videos in which the artist is in a strange location, or in which the instruments are not seen. The vocalist will always be a part of a performance video, however.
In the connected narrative video, the video tells a story which is in some way connected to the story in the lyrics. Of course, this style works best with songs that tell a clear story. Again, the form has become less popular as video makers have become more oblique.
Many pop songs do not have a clear story, but as products of the cinema age we connect video with narrative. Video makers often take the ‘mood’ or ‘tone’ of the song and create a new, unconnected story.
The abstract video is neither performance nor narrative. It can work for any kind of song, but is particularly suited to electronic or instrumental tracks.
Sometimes, an artist cannot decide what kind of video to make. Natsume Mito made eleven versions of her song “Maegami Kirisugita” (“I Cut My Bangs Too Short”)!
Natsume Mito gets a few choice cuts for a song about her hair.
The lipdub has become quite an online meme, as groups of friends lip-synch and perform to a prerecorded track. You can find many examples here, but have a look at how this man used the Bruno Mars song “Marry You” to propose to his girlfriend.
Week One – Homework
Find an interesting music video and be prepared to introduce it to your classmates. How does it fit into our categories? How do the images connect to the music? What in particular do you like about this video?
What were the first words spoken on MTV?
What was the first video played?
What was Jac Holzman’s role in MTV?
What other names did the producers try before they decided on MTV?
Why did the producers need to call Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon)?
Who was the first non-white musician on MTV?
Why was musician Rick James angry with MTV?
What was the first rap song played on the station?
Where did New Yorkers have to go to watch MTV for the first year?
Literal Music Videos
This video for A-Ha’s song ‘Take On Me’ is one of the most famous ever made, and broke the band in the eighties.
In this version, someone has rewritten the lyrics to describe exactly what happens in the video.
Now it’s your turn! Watch one of these videos and try to re-write the song to fit the video.
Compare your version to these ones made by other people.
Week Two – Homework
Decide on the song which you and your partners will create a promotional video for.
Plan and storyboard your video.
1. Your song should be in English.
2. Your video can be a performance video, a connected or unconnected narrative, or abstract. However, in some way (through the lyrics, imagery, tone or mood) it should be connected to the song.
3. Don’t remake the existing video. Create your own original, alternative version.