I’ve never thought of music videos in this way before, but today in class I realised that they are essentially short pieces of visual art that are made for the masses. Of course they are commercial, because the whole point is to draw attention to the songs so that people will want to buy the albums, but at the same time music video directors have the ability to explore creatively that which they may not have had the time, budget or support to do otherwise.
I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, and (certainly before the introduction of pay TV in the mid 90’s) there were limited ways you could actually watch music videos. Essentially, you had to stay up really late on Friday or Saturday night to watch Rage on ABC, or get up early on Saturday mornings to watch Video Hits. There were other random ways, such as buying a video “magazine” (I still have a couple sitting in a box somewhere!) or a VHS compilation of a band’s music videos. For me, though, that rarity of the music video actually gave it more significance. You didn’t have the internet and social media as ways to “connect” with bands and musicians. You had live gigs, physical music mags, and other limited media objects (album liner notes, music videos, live in concert videos, etc.) that you had to use to connect with and interpret what a band was trying to say with their music. Watching a music video felt like it had more importance than it might today, especially as a fan.
We watched several music videos by Anton Corbijn for Depeche Mode this morning. Apart from reaffirming the fact that I am definitely not a fan of Depeche Mode, they didn’t really move me or make me more interested in the band. I don’t know if it’s because the music was a bit meh, or because the narrative left me feeling ambivalent towards them, but the clips just weren’t interesting to me, even as “art”. Maybe you had to be there, be a fan of the band, to get it. I much preferred Corbijn’s video for the Front 242 single Headhunter. The song itself didn’t do it for me, but the video was visually engaging and quirky.
All in all, today’s classes have given me a fresh way to watch and appreciate music videos, and lots of ideas for the major project. No giant eggs though, as it’s clearly already been done ;)