Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

(You) People Are Strange

We considered music video ideas for the track "People are Strange" by The Doors (released as a single in 1967), having first pondered which single shot would best express this track (a dutch or canted angle). 

As you can see from the image on the right (the cover of the album this song was released on) many of your ideas weren't a million miles away from those of the band themselves!

Here's how the track has been described:
According to its Allmusic review, the song "reflects the group's fascination with the theatrical music of European cabaret."[2] The song is about alienation and being an outsider, and, as the aforementioned review also notices, Jim Morrison may have addressed the song both to the hippie culture, to outsiders in general, and/or to users of drugs such as LSD.[2] The song came about in early 1967 after guitarist Robby Krieger and a depressed Morrison had walked to the top of Laurel Canyon.[3] Drummer John Densmore believes that the song was the manifestation of Morrison's "vulnerability".[3] 
[SOURCE: - this page also contains the lyrics]

The key term there is alienation. This is a key lyrical (so narrative) and visual/conceptual aspect of much music aimed at a youth audience, especially teens.

Lessons from this exercise?
  • a core idea can emerge quickly
  • you should be able to quickly communicate the core idea of your music video, so a moment of inspiration, subsequently fleshed out and researched, shouldn't be discounted as a possible project!
  • we need to be thinking about specific media language when expressing abstract ideas; to explain what we'd see on screen we need some denotative detail
  • we wouldn't pick such an old recording, but...
  • could look for a more recent cover version, though even then...
  • we must search YouTube to check there isn't already a music video for this version too!
  • To be clear, you cannot select a track for which there is a recent existing music video, which makes actual singles unlikely, unless they are cover versions released more recently
  • I'm quite happy for you to develop any idea you come up with for these weekly tasks into a firm proposal for your own production - so long as it is a contemporary release, and you've ensured it does not have an existing video
  • performance can be incorporated into concept/narrative videos, with the band actively performing within the diegetic world you have created, or simply appearing as characters without instruments
  • for example, it was suggested that the band might be seen through the windows of various businesses passed by the protagonist
  • another idea was that they (or, more likely in this case, specifically the band's singer) could keep appearing in different clothing as different characters while the main protagonist in your fictional concept goes past
  • several of you utilised one of the key signifiers of the short film form: a twist ending. Many concept/narrative music videos quite closely match the key characteristics of the short film format: quirky, tweaking reality in some aspect, twist ending, often compressing or skipping any stage of narrative equilibrium
  • finally, it was flagged up that many of your ideas would not be out of place in a Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze music video, two directors who have gone on to have quite distinctive feature films released but who made their name with quirky concept/narrative music videos. We will be looking at aspects of their work (plus the band Depeche Mode's videos) to further explore narrative/concept videos in November
 There are a variety of versions of this song to be found; lets start with The Doors' own video. This is something of a proto-video, but contains nice examples of canted angles and video effects to achieve its alienated effect:

There have been many versions of this song recorded. Just some of these follow...

Jonny + Alex's version from summer 2011:


Tori Amos' live version

A dance remix:

A gothic-industrial cover:

A prankster video:

The Echo and the Bunnymen version you may recognise from The Lost Boys (we looked at this film's opening last year!) [you can watch the actual opening here]

A strange 'art video' (skip to 0:50 in)

This one's interesting for its use of angles and video FX: band called A Cuckoo...

Emo/Goths Evanescence have covered it:

A folky singer called Elisa:

Violinist Nigel Kennedy...

Cool jazz cats The Young Sinatras...

Terrible electro version...

Any number of amateur versions...


Soundtracking a tribute to Herman Munster

'Gary is Strange'

....enough already!

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