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

Sunday, 3 July 2011

3 Summer 2011 vids: Example/BadRiddim/NicScherz

Channel-flicking I happened upon three current vids; 1 fairly ingenious and certainly responsible for elevating a so-so track to global fame; 1 from a much-hyped Brit which is boringly conventional, but useful to look at because of it; and 1 which demonstrates the problematic nature of much of the video output of female pop (or R+B) acts. We also can see how more than 1 of Goodwin's concept of 3 key approaches are often seen within a single vid.

First up is a great example of how a quirky, visually arresting vid can elevate a dance track which otherwise might get limited traction: Vato Gonzalez ft. Foreign Beggars "Badman Riddim (Jump)"

At the time of viewing it had 'only' 735,000 viewings, but seems to have garnered a number of TV screenings recently.
Even more so than the Example track, there is little likelihood of deriving a clear meaning from the lyrics with which to create a narrative vid. What we get is a concept enhanced with performance, including some sharp lip-synching - the cross-cutting of the two is mutually enhancing; either by themselves would probably drag a little!
Its a perfect example of the postmodern approach: playfully referencing Japan's historic reputation for cheap, lo-fi monster flicks such as the many versions of Godzilla (ie intertextuality), and neatly making a virtue out of limited budget by having a hyper-ironic cheap cardboard set. You could also read this as a critical reflection on the Michael Bay element of the zeitgeist: daft SFX-extravaganzas such as the Transformers franchise dominating the multiplexes. The SFX are in line with the fun approach and pastiche of the vid; their child-like aspect recalls those seen in Son of Rambow.
Using the rooftop setting also ensures they didn't lose further time/money by having to control traffic/pedestrians.
The Japanese schoolgirl trope is one seen in a great many cultural settings, and has a similar array of connotations to that of Britney in the 'Hit Me Baby' vid. What might be seen as a 'darker' side of this seemingly playful, frivilous vid is seen with the hand-holding of one girl and the Godzilla-like monster, fertile territory for any Freudian (or Jungian!) psychoanalysts out there.
The fisheye lens is much in evidence, and the tight framing of the performers an increasingly common rap convention (also popular beyond that genre, seen in Foo Fighters and other rock vids). If you think about the practicalities, all they've done is add a graf-style backdrop to a room, spanning little more than 1metre across, and framed the shot so that this is all we see: clever video-making on a tight budget (tho' the backdrop still needed an artistic hand to create).

The 2nd vid is Example's "Changed the Way You Kissed Me"

Approaching 5m hits as I watched it. Its dull, but very competently put together. The lyrics don't lend themselves to any clear narrative approach (its questionable whether there is any particular meaning there), aside from some take on a romance breaking down. Nonetheless, as the vid switches from a basic concept approach to performance, we do see a matching of lyrics to action: around 1:49 in "not afraid of flying" is matched to Example crowd-surfing.
The B+W is rather pretentious BUT lends the vid a polish it might otherwise lack, and enables the slo-mo at the start to fit around common conceptions of 'arty' - our moody artiste is to be taken seriously!
The flat and external shots simply signify metropolitan lifestyle - flashes by too quickly to be clearly London-specific? This is a recording artist with global ambitions.
Always look out for THE GAZE/LOOKING: Example is quite fascinated by himself, though the early footage also signifies a privileged inside view for the audience; we see Example gearing up for a gig and performing, two sides of the man.
Its not a great vid, but the lighting is skilfully controlled, and there is sufficient variety of footage to sustain interest. The uber-cool crowd are what the couch potato viewer of the vid, watching in the un-hip North say, should aspire to as much as the style and panache of the man himself (we could consider the Uses and Gratifications theory here, or even Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs...)
We could also speculate that the limitations are actually semi-purposeful: a too-glossy approach might not suit the Example brand at this stage of his career...

The 3rd vid is from a figure featuring on X Factor (wee bit of alliteration for you folks there), and, to me, the weakest/worst of the lot: Nicole Scherzinger's "Right There"

We get the heavily made-up, high gloss lighting we expect of a pop vid (we could also label this R+B), and the sort of simulacrum (a representation of a representation of reality: Baudrillard's concept) we saw in Michael Jackson's Billie Jean of a gritty urban street setting.
There are moments in this vid when the 'artist', or at least her brand-aware director, attempts to brazen out a feminist touch, tied to the repeated call out to "all my girls". But this is a video which renders the female lead actually in a passive, objectified role (there is certainly scope to disagree with this, not least by applying a post-feminist analysis) - hardly surprising given the lyrics:
Come here baby put your hands on my body
Hands on my body oh oh oh
Right there keep it right there
I love when you put it right there yeah yeah yeah
Is this, lyrically (ie as audio only) and/or the video itself, really suitable for the young audience its aimed at? In the A2 exam we consider Media Regulation, including the Bailey Report into the sexualisation of children through media content.
NS touches herself, prances/dances (delete as you prefer!) about with her body very much the focus of the vid and virtually every frame, including several seemingly obligatory 'booty' shots.
The vid is otherwise unremarkable, with limited variation of location/setting, and just one fairly simple special effect - you could argue her body is the main special effect, rendering additional spending unnecessary.
As a band member now going solo, its also interesting to note the group of 4 women who at times appear with her - and the degree of variation (multiple ethnicities, and varying looks: the idea of beauty takes in a skinhead for example, though more conventionally sticks with the thin-bodied ideal).
Awful track and depressingly formulaic presentation of the female body as entertainment - as I'm sure you'll agree? ...

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