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

Monday, 28 November 2011

Video Gaga? Various Analyses

From the far reaches of the web, a rather curious take on Lady Gaga...a force for a global conspiracy?!
an extract:
Gaga is not giving birth to a human but to a “new race” within humanity. The symbolism of the video makes it clear that this birth is not natural, but artificially provoked. A twisted immaculate conception. As is the case for most Lady Gaga videos, the theme of mind control is important in the video. It is the process through which the metamorphosis will take place.  In Monarch programming terms, we are witnessing the birth of a new persona within the “core personality” of humanity. The birth is happening within the minds of people and is visually represented by creepy facial horns.
If you really want to read more: source.
The same site also prognosticates on Britney Spears: an extract:
Britney indeed bears many classic symptoms of a Monarch programming victim. Further, the video of Hold it Against Me contains many visual clues that hint at Britney’s mental prison.

The next one I came across via Ellie's blog, a detailed look at Bad Romance. The writer sees Gaga as a feminist icon - I'm not so sure, tho' there is definitely a case to make for that interpretation:

The Art of Gaga- Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance Music Video Explained

Lady Gaga is an artist.
What is an artist? Musicians have blurred the lines between artist and being godly, being a role model and having something to say, or someone who is just famous for the sake of being famous. But, what is an artist?
An artist is someone whom their creations conveys a message. As the observer, we are the ones to decipher the creation and come to our own conclusions of what the message is. The message and the medium, however creative they are, contribute to how interesting the artist is.
Lady Gaga is an artist because she has a lot to say, and a very colorful way of saying it as well. I would overhear people saying, “she can’t sing” and I think that’s ridiculous. Of course she can sing, she has an amazing voice. I respect Lady Gaga as an artist because in my own interpretation of her music and music videos, I get a message that wants to change things. She sends messages to express female frustration, and is changing art to shake things up in the world.
Even though these music videos have been out for a while, I wanted to write my own interpretation of these music videos. I would talk to my friends about the importance of “Bad Romance” and “Telephone” and my friends would say it was garbage. How could I have such a different opinion about these videos than my friends? Didn’t we see the same music video? These music videos make the observer think, you have to think critically of what the message is. Here’s my interpretation:
Lady Gaga- Bad Romance

In Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video, we are subjected to different scenarios. We have the the coffin scene, where Gaga is coming out of the “coffin”, so to speak, as a monster. I think this music video was kind of the birth of Gaga’s journey as a true artist. She was coming to make a statement. Also as a self-proclaimed “monster”, she is also telling the viewer that it’s ok to be different.
We also have the scene where Gaga is in a sheer, skin colored outfit. She has pink hair and she is being tied down and being forced to remove her clothes. In this scene, the big eyes represent innocence to me, and the people that are taking off her clothes are taking away her innocence, forcing someone against their will. Also, the fact that they are taking her clothes away, they are stripping her into a sexual figure.
One of the biggest scenes to me is when she is in the diamond outfit, dancing in front of all the suitors while they are bidding on her. She is a courtesan, a prostitute, being forced against her will to be sexual for these men. She is reduced to a financial figure for her sex. She obviously resents the fact at the end of the video. Where you see Gaga strutting to the bed to the suitor who was the top bidder. She kills him. An act of revenge against everything that happened to her. Her being stripped away of her innocence, being reduced for a sexual figure to be bid on by men.

It’s a very feminist video. There are also images of her as a “monster” and it’s very obvious that she shape has been altered in the video. Her spine is protruding out of her skin, and her curves are accentuated. Has she turned into a sex monster? This video is retaliating against men. It is showing how women are shown in the media, and in real life as sexual objects, only there to tantalize and satisfy men. It has made women into sexual monsters, both wanting to be sexual, but fighting against the stereotypes men put upon them. And in the end, Gaga is taking a stand, that she is not going to be ruled by a man, that she is her own woman.

What about the violence? Is that called for?
There is a lot of violence in movies, men make the violence and now it’s tolerated as a male thing. It’s also tying into the gender stereotype that only men can get angry. When men get angry, they get violent. Women are not supposed to get angry, and hence, not be violent. The violence is a masculine trait. Gaga takes on this masculine trait to express her revenge, and assert her independence from men. The lyrics “I want your loving and I want your revenge” fits in perfectly with the images portrayed. There is definitely confusion in today’s age of what is a strong woman. Is she sexual and successful? Is she desired by all men and at the same time making a lot of money?
Why do people question Lady Gaga’s sex? Is she a man or a woman? She is taking feminism head on, using masculine traits to assert her womanhood. She really has picked up where Madonna has left off. Madonna started a lot of controversies with her sexual videos, questioning women’s roles in society. She wanted to show women could be successful and  sexual at the same time. Gaga is sending her own message, and using violence and intense visuals to assert her femininity, and masculinity at the same time.
I think it’s brilliant what Lady Gaga is doing to bring the music video back. There is so much open to interpretation and people can conclude their own vision of Gaga’s music videos. What does she say to you? The fact is that she’s shaping a new era of how women are looked at. Am I just reading in between the lines too much? I know I’m not because that’s the point of art, to take away from it your own interpretation of the art. To question, think and make the art mean something to you.
I will also review the music video “Telephone” because we open up even more cans of worms.
What does Bad Romance mean to you?

Lady Gaga shows ideological power of pop

An example here of the influence pop (in the widest sense of popular music) can wield, and why we should never mistake even the dumbest, oh, Katy Perry vid for example as being without potential to influence a culture.

Lady Gaga to meet with Obama over bullying

Singer plans to discuss anti-bullying legislation with president following fan's suicide
Sean Michaels 23.9.11
    Lady Gaga in May 2011
    Lady Gaga … 'Our generation has the power to end bullying.'

    Lady Gaga has announced she is to meet Barack Obama to discuss new legislation to counteract bullying. Following the recent suicide of a 14-year-old fan, Jamey Rodemeyer, a victim of bullies, the singer called on American lawmakers to make bullying illegal. Bullying, she tweeted, is a "hate crime".
    "I am meeting with our president," Gaga declared on Twitter. "I will not stop fighting." Despite her words, however, there has been no confirmation from the White House that Obama has actually agreed to meet with Gaga. But the pop star will not be deterred: "[Bullying] must end," she wrote. "Our generation has the power to end it. Trend it #MakeALawForJamey."
    Jamey Rodemeyer, from Buffalo, New York, killed himself last weekend. Although Rodemeyer had participated in the It Gets Better campaign, offering his support to gay teenagers, he was the victim of bullying at his own school. On his blog, he wrote: "I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens."
    As news emerged of Rodemeyer's death, Gaga expressed sorrow and frustration. "The past days I've spent reflecting, crying, and yelling," she wrote earlier this week. "I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someone's life." That anger turned into resolve: "Bullying must become be illegal," she tweeted. "It is a hate crime."
    Lady Gaga has been a vocal supporter of gay rights, particularly as an advocate for the end of the US military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy regarding gay recruits. That rule was repealed on Tuesday.

CENSORSHIP: Rihanna's top 5 controversies

Speaks for itself:
[to which we can now add her new album celebrating her domestic abuse? plus her shambolic - omnishambles?! - album launch PR plane...]
See also

M.LANG: Jane'sAddiction 'lyric vid'

This is a strange one, albeit from a band whose brand is centred on their difference to the mainstream, one who've had battles with both the censors and their own record label over album covers, and who haven't been afraid to play up gay or bisexual connotations despite having a rock/metal following.
I've never heard of 'lyric videos' before, but this Loudwire article uses the term to denote the curious vid for JA's latest.

Tracking over an underground map from The Warriors
The vid features the lyrics set out as an underground map (rendered through Flash by the looks of it; the 'paper' has accurate folds but looks artificial), with occasional crosscutting to a tracking shot in an underground rail tunnel, plus stills of the band's energetic and triumphant live performance, and ends with a straightforward print ad for the new album, making the commercial logic of music vids more explicit than usual. The camera (as least as rendered through software) tracks across the map, including back and forth to chorus lyrics.
Perhaps an influence here from The Warriors, Walter Hill's 1979 cult classic which has also become a hit PlayStation game [trailer; opening sequence - go to 4:10 in to see map tracking]?

Here's the JA vid:

The canny commercialism doesn't end there; the viral release of the vid is accompanied by a competition to win a guitar signed by all 4 band members.

Monday, 21 November 2011

MAG ADS: past egs + posts

UPDATE: You can view a vodcast on mag ads here; and a post outlining research steps here.

I'll gather together all relevant posts/resources below, but first some egs of posts from the 2011 blogs, which generally scored very highly (several got 20/20 for R+P and/or Eval)
JONNY HUGHES' JOY DIVISION BLOG: Final Editions of Our Advertisements; Evaluation Q2 - Combination of Products [NB: ad also ref'd in all 3 Qs]; Original Photographs for Advert; CM - Where might our advertisement appear?; Basic Magazine Advertisement Research
BETH COOPER'S GORILLAZ BLOG: EG - Magazine Album Advert Research; EG - Our Magazine Advert & Audience Feedback; Evaluation Question 2
MEGAN CLAYDON'S BACKSTREET BOYS BLOG: Photographs for Digipak and Advert; Magazine advertisement; Example of adverts in Q magazine; Initial drafts of magazine adverts; Audience feedback on magazine drafts (EB AND MC); Final draft of magazine adverts; Audience feedback on final draft of magazine adver...; Final magazine adverts; Final changes to adverts; Q2) How effective is the combination of your main ...; Magazine advertisements

Use links list!!!


2011 - QR code linking strands of package? HINT: easy + v useful for Q3/Q4 marks!  


DIGIPAKS: scanned examples

These aren't especially good examples - we don't see the sticker highlighting the digipak as a special edition/featuring a single or vid, for example, that you should be planning - and remember that yours is to be for a CD and DVD. A booklet, or even bonus postcard or some such, would also make sense.
If you scan in any better examples please pass along the jpg/pdf files and I'll add them below (these were scanned by students in F6 ast year and passed on)

Jack Johnson Inside
Jack Johnson Cover
Ignacio Fernandez Inside 2
Ignacio Fernandez Inside
Ignacio Fernandez Cover 2
Ignacio Fernandez Cover
Her Make Believe Band Inside
Her Make Believe Band Cover
Carole King Inside
Carole King Cover
Bon Jovi Inside
Bon Jovi Cover

DIGIPAKS: all the previous posts gathered together


2011  - containing link to: and - Eg of band using own website to promote album but also involve fans in it; have you thought about a poll (set a swift deadline so you get final results in time), eg on which of 3 tracks to include as closing track on CD? (you can think of other ideas I'm sure, eg which of the 2 versions do you prefer [having linked to drafts]) - QR code linking strands of package? HINT: easy + v useful for Q3/Q4 marks! 

See also (LP-style 'tunnel' panel, which allows for a booklet)

Past blogs are also a rich seam of useful material, and should help you see what you need to be doing, eg:
(from Jonny Hughes' 2011 Joy Division blog) What is a Digipak CD?; Deconstruction of a Digipak CD; Ancillary Draft: Digipak; Ancillary Draft: Digipak 2; Vodcast: More on the Digipak; Original Photographs for Digipak; Final Digipak Template; Evaluation Q2 - Combination of Products; Final Digipak
(from Beth Cooper's Gorillaz blog) Digipak Design; Gorillaz Album Art; DigiPak; WeWow on the Music Industry & DigiPaks)
(from Megan Claydon's Backstreet Boys blog) Digipak; Q2) How effective is the combination of your main ...; Digipak- Second draft of images; Gaining audience feedback on Digipak; (EB & MC) Our photo draft for the front and back o...; Photographs for Digipak and Advert; Possible photos for our Digipak; Our idea for the Digi-pak; Digi-paks)

Eg of re-[digi]packaging old albums + tour: SUEDE

90s Britpoppers Suede provide a useful eg of bands reissuing repackaged versions of their albums, with bonus DVDs; this is part of the article from; the full article gives complete CD/DVD listing. Suede are touring to support this release, playing a classic album each night, which links into your digipak ads in most cases...

Suede Reissue Details Revealed

Suede Reissue Details Revealed
As previously reported, reunited Britpop leading lights Suede will release expanded editions of their five studio albums in May and June, via Demon Records. Each of the records has been remastered and expanded to include B-sides, demos, and previously unreleased songs, as well booklets and bonus DVDs featuring recent interviews with the band members and more. The entire band, including once-estranged original guitarist Bernard Butler, worked on the reissue project.
The expanded edition of the band's 1993 self-titled debut is due May 30, with 1994's Dog Man Star following June 6, 1996's Coming Up out June 13, 1999's Head Music arriving June 20, and 2002's A New Morning due June 22. On Record Store Day, April 16, Suede will release a limited edition single featuring demo versions of their first single, 1992's "The Drowne


I've blogged before on this, so just a couple of links - detais the extraordinary revenues the show brings to ITV (the final alone last year took £21m in ad revenues), and the impact of falling viewing figures: the £250,000 charged for each 30sec slot in 2010 is being seen as excessive by advertisers with the 2011 figures down 8% (Saturdays) and 11% (Sundays).

Scroll to the bottom of Charlie brooker's typically caustic overview of Xmas ads to find his take on the M&S ad featuring the finalists - but not the edited-out Frankie Cocozza (article features strong language), as well as the ad itself...which I'll embed below for your viewing displeasure:

'Frankiegate' is significant not because of the tuneless, talentless irritant at the centre of the 'scandal', but as a reminder that the pop industry tends to act as a moral policeman, especially when interfaced with advertisers (just as Chomsky's propaganda model argues, ad'g being one of its five filters), or as a hegemonic force. Pop can of course push boundaries - Madonna's Like a Prayer vid remains a classic example - but only at the risk of losing out on potentially lucrative endorsement deals (as Madonna did, losing millions when Pepsi withdrew its ad campaign featuring Madonna). The pop industry is generally a conservative force.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

PRODUCTION: Rammstein vid behind the scenes

Its in German (Eng subtitles) and 30mins long, but here's a behind-the-scenes feature on  iconic industrial band Rammstein's typically outrageous vid for Mein Land:
(as it autoplays you'll need to click 'see more' to watch it...)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

M.LANG: Dancing

Good article here on importance of dance moves, with specific links to various movies highlighting the techniques used in LGaga's Bad Romance; quick excerpt then the full article:
So let us pause briefly to mourn the split of Lady Gaga, not the world's most naturally gifted dancer, from someone who helped her look as if she was: long-term choreographer (and Haus of Gaga creative director, no less) Laurieann Gibson.
For their best work, see the Bad Romance video. The landmark pop release saw Gaga's entire team working at full throttle, but the choreography – which builds 10 key moves into the first five seconds of the first chorus, offers up a whole different set for the chorus's second half, then reinvents it all by the time the next chorus swings around – is a work of art in its own right.

Full article:

Now you too can learn how to dance like Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga may have parted company with the choreographer who came up with her moves, but don't let that stop you from having a go with this helpful guide
  • As Thom Yorke's moves in the video for Radiohead's Lotus Flower proved, there is a very fine line between a dance routine that suggests surrendering to the spirit of pop at its most euphoric, and a series of physical movements that prompt passersby to dial 999.
    So let us pause briefly to mourn the split of Lady Gaga, not the world's most naturally gifted dancer, from someone who helped her look as if she was: long-term choreographer (and Haus of Gaga creative director, no less) Laurieann Gibson.
    For their best work, see the Bad Romance video. The landmark pop release saw Gaga's entire team working at full throttle, but the choreography – which builds 10 key moves into the first five seconds of the first chorus, offers up a whole different set for the chorus's second half, then reinvents it all by the time the next chorus swings around – is a work of art in its own right.

NEW MEDIA: Rickrolling

I've mentioned this in class, here's more detail (from this wiki):

Rickroll internet phenomenon

Astley rickrolling the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2008

In 2007,[40] Rick Astley became the subject of a viral Internet meme known as Rickrolling. This is where internet users are tricked into watching Rick Astley's video "Never Gonna Give You Up" by following a link that claims to be something else.[41] Views of this video on various websites are now in their millions. The phenomenon became so popular that on 1 April 2008, YouTube pranked its users by making every single featured video on its front page a Rickroll.[42]
On November 27, 2008, Astley himself participated in a live Rickroll during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends characters were singing "Best Friend", the theme from the 1970s TV series The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Midway through the song, Astley emerged from the float and began to lip sync his signature hit. At the end of Astley's performance, Cheese (a character from Foster's) shouted out "I like Rickrolling!".[43][44]
Despite the video garnering millions of hits on YouTube, Astley has earned almost no money from the meme, receiving only US$12 in royalties from YouTube for his performance share.[45]

And here's the video in question... (nearly 42m intentional views at time of writing!)


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

AUDIENCE: Old boyband touring

Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys interviewed in Metro:
Their current gig audience is mainly 30/40-somethings; a good example of why your vids for older acts should be focussed on youth aud to rebrand somewhat and give back catalogue sales - which record companies increasingly rely on (see 'long tail theory') - a boost

NEW MEDIA: AC/DC-StarWars fan vid

Fan-made vid, or UGC (user generated content) cleverly editing Star Wars footage to an AC/DC classic
This is a common form of music vid which exists outside the music industry; there are lots of Bridget Jones equivalents, for example, cut to Westlife and the likes!

Monday, 14 November 2011

NEW MEDIA/AUD: Queen remix comp

Queen are making clever use of social media to push a competition which neatly raises interest in their back catalogue whilst doing the same for the band's website and general online profile:

As part of their 40th anniversary celebration/reissue campaign, the members of Queen are turning to their legion of fans to assist with putting a new spin on an old song. The assignment: to remix the song ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ for use on Queen’s official site and the British band’s social media platforms in 2012.

Judging the contest are guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, along with engineer Justin Shirley-Smith and producer Kris Fredriksson. In addition to the prestige that will come with the remix’s global exposure, the Host’s Choice winner will receive a cash prize and paid travel to London for a mastering session. Also included in the prize are Queen-related products, among them a signed copy of ‘Jazz,’ the 1979 album that featured ‘Don’t Stop Me Now.’
May and Taylor will also select a runner-up, and that lucky remixer will receive Queen merchandise (CDs, plus a book, DVD and a Blu-ray disc) plus an Avid Recording Studio system — the same prize pack, by the way, as the People’s Choice winner.
Remix entries must be submitted by Dec. 13; voting runs from Dec. 14 to 21.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

M.LANG: RATM smash genre conventions

Bizarre, but clever, bit of countertyping from godfathers of industrial Rage Against the Machine: a new vid for Mein Land in which they appear as happy-go-lucky surfer dudes, in the style of the Beatles, Monkees or Beach Boys, 3 60s bands whose film and TV work contained proto-vids.

This then is yet another option for this brief, and for working within this format: completely playing against type and expectations in a postmodern fashion. Towards the end the footage switches dramatically to more familiar territory; as it features some limited nudity in the final minute I won't embed it, but you can see and read about this Jomas Akerlund vid here:

INDUSTRY: EMI sale creates Big 3

With the announcement that EMI is being bought up as two packages by Sony and Universal, the already absurd concentration of ownership that was the big 4 now becomes the big 3, as I blogged on recently:

The last British giant, EMI, has been in the hands of private equity companies for some time, and has been effectively for sale for a while now, the private investors having bought it at what now seems an obviously inflated price just as the music industry began to feel the financial impact of digitisation.
This article contains a useful update on all this.
So, will the Big Four become the Big Three?


A little bit of theory: Chomsky's propaganda model includes as one of the five filters 'concentration of ownership, while Ben Badikian has written about the negative impact of monopoly (a topic we'll explore for the exam Media Regulation topic) in his classic book The Media Monopoly (now renamed The New Media Monopoly)
Leading corporations own the leading news media and their advertisers subsidize most of the rest. They decide what news and entertainment will be made available to the country; they have direct influence on the country's laws by making the majority of the massive campaign contributions that go to favored politicians; their lobbyists are permanent fixtures in legislatures.
This inevitably raises suspicions of overt conspiracy. But there is none. Instead, there is something more insidious: a system of shared values within contemporary American corporate culture and corporations' power to extend that culture to the American people, inappropriate as it may be. (excerpt from

You can find an archive of articles at
Some recent, useful additions include:
'EMI: the sad demise of a very British company: For three decades, EMI took on the world in record sales. Now its sale to Sony and Universal marks the end for the music major'
'Universal and Sony reach deal to buy EMI for £2.5bn: Famous British music business could be split into two in agreement that hands control to biggest rivals'
'Farewell then EMI, your tunes were the background to our lives: The company that brought us Cliff and the Beatles, the Sex Pistols and Susan Boyle is disappearing. We should salute its contribution to our culture'

Friday, 11 November 2011

Past Media student success story!

Like many, Helena Beeson picked up Media as a 4th AS, never intending to follow it through to A2 ... and like most, she did take it through it to A2!
Now on a film production degree, Helena has just won a short film competition, embedded below:

Thursday, 10 November 2011

INDUSTRY/NEW MEDIA: Rotten Apple kills Flash

As the owner of a new Macbook I admire aspects of what Apple do - but they are becoming a corporate bully in the way Microsoft did before them. I've blogged previously on the terrible deal they give musicians (but also on the few acts like Pink Floyd and The Beatles who refused to allow Apple to sell their music on iTunes ... until recently!)

They've just effectively killed the use of Flash (used by YouTube and many others) on the web!


GENRE: Resources, Key points, + Indie Hindi...

We've been exploring genre this week, and some key points should be evident:
  • its a deceptively simple concept
  • every genre is in a state of constant flux; one new act/band/vid can lead to major changes
  • 'pop' itself is the most extreme case, constantly taking on features of new musical forms depending on what sells at any given time (examples have been disco, New Romantics, rave/techno - all asociated with specific time periods)
  • geography can also be a defining feature: Florida for death metal, San Fransisco's Bay Area for thrash metal, Scandanavi (espec Norway) for black metal, Seattle for grunge; some genres are named after the area the bands come from: Delta blues, Madchester, Merseybeat; many others after key record labels which become associated with particular types of music, eg Blue Note
  • every genre itself builds on and utilises aspects of existing genres
  • some genres support distinct youth (tho' perhaps also increasingly 34+?) subcultures, and can be at the centre of moral panics (read this article on the FBI declaring 'Juggalos', fans of Insane Clown Posse, a criminal gang + info on how the always balanced + enlightened Daily Mail linked My Chemical Romance to a teen's suicide), dating back to the 50s Mods + Rockers (see Quadrophenia, or the just remade Brighton Rock)
  • genre definitions have traditionally been controlled by retailers and mass media (the Billboard magazine, which compiles the USA's most recognised charts, is responsible for many such as Rhythm and Blues - which they had called negro music originally), but digital media is arguable democratising this...
  • ...though perhaps this democratisation is undermining the function and usefulness of genre as ever more micro-genres receive labels from blogs, e-zines and the twitterati? Surely genres still require signifiacnt retail and mass media usage to become widely accepted?
  • postmodernists don't accept such stratifications as genre, although postmodern videos such as Depeche Mode's No Good deconstruct the format and genre in a thoroughly postmodern manner
Use the links list, lesson notes, Q1b handout (espec for theories), additional blog posts on genre, and various books/journals in F6/Lib

The following is just one of these - fantastic for the detail on the role retailers AND online databases play; THERE IS A FAIRLY OFFICIAL GENRE-NAMING BODY AFTER ALL...

Music's New Mating Ritual

As genres are fused, cryptically named hybrids emerge; the story behind 'gypsy punk'

more in Media & Marketing »
Indie Hindi, socaton, skurban. You may feel like you need a dictionary the next time you go shopping for music.
The music world is getting thick with hybrids, or cryptically named blends of established styles. Indie Hindi, for example, is traditional Indian vocals tinged with edgy American-style rock. Socaton is dance music that has elements of rap, calypso and reggae. The number of genres is up more than 40% over the past four years, by one measure -- Gracenote, which maintains the music-classification system used by major sites like Yahoo and iTunes, now recognizes more than 1,800 genres. It recently added "hyphy," a jittery form of hip-hop from the San Francisco area.
Defying standard genres has traditionally been a risky move for bands in part because it's difficult for retailers to figure out where to place them on the shelves. But increasingly, fans are finding music in less conventional ways -- like perusing strangers' online playlists, or following a trail of links on MySpace -- paving the way for bands to define themselves in more exotic ways. Bands are also keenly aware of the recent commercial success of blended genres like reggaeton, a Jamaican-Latin-rap mix, and popera, radio-friendly songs done with operatic vocals.
[Fusic image]
Even some genres that don't hit commercial high notes are finding followings. Take "nerdcore hip-hop," rap music that revolves around geeky subjects like videogames and J.R.R. Tolkien books. The father of the movement, Damian Hess, performs often around the country and says he makes a comfortable living selling his albums and merchandise. But nerdcore hasn't registered with mainstream listeners. Fans of the genre have fallen short in a petition drive to get MySpace to add nerdcore to its list of 127 genres.
Mr. Hess, who goes by "MC Frontalot," is hardly discouraged. "Top of the esoteric fringe is really the ideal place," says Mr. Hess, who sports a short-sleeve shirt and necktie on stage. (See Mr. Hess's Web site.)
Jazz singer Jacqui Naylor decided to try something different after getting one too many requests for "My Funny Valentine" during a tour of Japan in 2001. Her arranger and piano player Art Khu came to her with a translation of AC/DC's hard-rock anthem "Back in Black" as an instrumental vamp. Into that, Ms. Naylor wove the familiar melody to "My Funny Valentine."
The process, which Ms. Naylor calls "acoustic smashing," marked a turning point in her career. Her first two albums of straight-ahead jazz didn't get much notice outside jazz circles. But her most recent albums, including "The Color Five," have gotten play on some rock stations. Her next album: "Smashed for the Holidays," which includes a fusion of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama."
This is, of course, not the first time musicians have blended styles to create genres (that's how rock 'n' roll came about), but the number of sub-niches has been growing at a remarkable clip. It's being fueled by the migration of music online and a "mashup" culture that has spawned everything from spoof movie trailers to fan-made music videos. At dance clubs this summer, DJs are spinning "baile funk," a dance-rock fusion from Brazil. Recently at No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart was the crossover hit "Party Like a Rockstar," a rap-mashed-with-distorted-guitar number by the "hood rock" group Shop Boyz.
Anoushka Shankar
[Anoushka Shankar]
A new album from this sitar player and DJ Karsh Kale has Indian and electronic influences, a blend called "desi dance."
Jacqui Naylor
[Jacqui Naylor]
In her "acoustic smashes," Ms. Naylor sings the melody of jazz standards over well-known rock instrumentals.
Bonde do Role
[Bonde do Role]
This trio mixes "baile funk" from its native Brazil with punk riffs and electronic samples. The group starts a U.S. tour next month.
Meanwhile, Falguni Shah, a classically trained Indian vocalist who records under the name Falu, uses the term "indie Hindi" to describe her New York band's sound. (Her producer coined the term.)
While everyone from the bands to bloggers to fans come up with the names for new genres, ultimately it falls to music-cataloging companies like Gracenote and All Media Guide to decide whether to acknowledge them for posterity.
Gracenote, in Emeryville, Calif., supplies the information that pops up when you put a CD in the computer, like the title, artist and genre.
About 40 music analysts, including some working in Japan, Russia and other countries, use an internal Web site to nominate genres. They make their case by citing important bands and media mentions. A small group of editors makes the final call. Not all the genres are new -- among some 30 currently on the table are several subcategories of folk music, including "prison songs" and "hokum," a blues style marked by comedic patter.
While the editors agreed to add "hyphy," the San Francisco rap sound, "snap music," which has inspired dance crazes in the South, was deemed a passing fad. Meanwhile, some newer music-recommendation services like Pandora and iLike are moving in the other direction and doing away with genre labels altogether.
Marketers smell an opportunity in the proliferation of genres. Klee Irwin, a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur whose main business is selling vitamins via infomercials he hosts, has launched a group of rapping skateboarders called Board Bangers. His idea draws on the growing number of black skaters, a culture merge referred to as "skurban." His hope is to sell Board Bangers music and merchandise to suburban white kids. (See Board Bangers' Web site.)
Mr. Irwin says he spent $150,000 building a recording studio, and more than $1 million on 19 music videos to promote the group's debut, including an upcoming album release. He had to audition over a hundred teenagers to find his crew. "Every time we found cool, aggressive street skaters, they couldn't rap very well," he says.
Write to John Jurgensen at

FREE BOOKS: Fri 18th Nov Leeds International Film Festival

FREE BOOKS, as part of the Leeds International Film Festival there is to be “book drop” in local libraries, this will be Friday 18 November from 10.00 in the following libraries Bingley, Baildon, Eccleshill, Keighley, Manningham, Central, Laisterdyke, Wibsey, Wyke, Shipley and Ilkley and from 2.30 at Burley and Menston.
The books are graphic novels and comic style “books”.
There are lots of events happening at the festival which takes place from 14-20 November at various locations in Leeds, it is called Thought Bubble and the website is if you want to find out more, there are lots of workshops linked to the arts, manga, comics and cinema.

M.LANG: Deconstructionism, pomo, DMode eg

Here's a term that will pop up frequently when analysing vids (and is linked to pomo): DECONSTRUCTIONISM
I'm going to use an eg of a Depeche Mode vid for No Good...

ACT: Depeche Mode
TRACK: It's No Good 

YEAR: 1997
DIRECTOR: Anton Corbijn
GENRE: Electro-Pop/Dance
(both fe/male gaze, 2ndary 35-44 aud from 80s + aspirational tweens + younger teens [10-14])

Gahan ironically dressed as a 70s lounge lizard
Now, postmodernists argue there is no essential reality, everything is clouded as we view the world through symbols which represent symbols ... There is no such thing as quality; a Kylie Minogue lyric and a Shakespeare are of equal merit - there is simply no objectivity from which we can make such judgements. That poses issues for standard concepts such as genre. Being postmodern, some postmodernists would of course disagree with this depiction, as nothing can be truly defined!
As for this song and video, its difficult to pin down what we're referring to when we say the text:

The music video for "It's No Good" was directed by Anton Corbijn, depicting the

Sunday, 6 November 2011

CONTROVERSY: 10 Most Rebellious TV Rock Performances

The appeal of the music vid for TV partly lies in the ease with which it can be controlled by the TV producers: it can be bleeped or cut at will, for example. Live performances can, by contrast, be anarchic, from Elvis' 'shocking' pelvis gyrations in the 50s, through The Doors' Light My Fire reference to 'girl we can't get no higher' to Nirvana's debut UK performance where singer Cobain shouted on The Word that his girlfriend was the best, ahem, sexual partner in the world.
You can see a list of 10 egs of (rock) bands not following the rules on a variety of TV shows, including YouTube clips of the performances, at

I've embedded just one example below: Johnny Rotten refusing to lipsynch on US TV:

GENRE/PoMo: Mash-ups, hybridity, Rehfeldt, Kutiman

In film, hybridity is often a straightforwardly commercial decision: add comedy to romantic drama (rom-com) to help draw in a male aud.
Rap meets metal; the mashup was also racial, with rap's white aud small until this
In music, there is something of this - acts such as Madonna and Gaga are constantly striving to remain relevant to a young aud by taking on aspects of whatever is cutting edge in music at that time; Madonna in particular has an incredible track record of identifying musical trends and producers whilst still fairly underground and exploiting these to keep her own sound fresh. She has frequently used elements of whatever's big at the time in the gay club scene.
From the point that hiphop began emerging in the late 70s (broken big by Run DMC in the mid-80s, and really taken to stratospheric heights once white rappers emerged from Vanilla Ice to Eminem), the concept of genre in music has been problematic. Hiphop is a genre but one defined by its used of all other existing genres.
The concept of the mash-up emerged as a specific variant of this: literally blending two (or more) tracks which the mixer thinks work well together - perhaps the most famous example being Jay-Z's Black Album: remixed by Danger Mouse, weaving in Beatles tracks, to create The Grey Album.
A mashup or bootleg (also mesh, mash up, mash-up, blend and bastard pop/rock) is a song or composition created by blending two or more pre-recorded songs, usually by overlaying the vocal track of one song seamlessly over the instrumental track of another. To the extent that such works are 'transformative' of original content, they may find protection from copyright claims under the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law [wiki]
The blurring of distinct categories is a hallmark of the postmodern aesthetic, and postmodernists argue that originality is impossible - all that can be done (as everything original already exists/has been thought of) is to mashup, remix existing ideas.
Nu-metal is an interesting example - bursting into the limelight in the mid-90s, and taking up the commercial status lost by grunge as it faded away following Cobain's death, it combined metal and hiphop. The pioneer bands (Korn, Deftones, Limp Bizkit) were controversial within the metal fanbase, the hybridity seeing many genre fans rejecting them as inauthentic; not actually metal.
Its time as a predominant musical force was quite brief ... but currently enjoying a resurgence as Limp Bizkit return.
Moreover, Korn have just announced a dubstep-influenced album (with Skrillex): The concept of metal is stretched to its limit here ... and this is hot on the heels of Metallica's album with Lou Reed (leading some to talk of Loutallica!)
But nu-metal is far from unique. Beatallica are a band who fuse Metallica-style singing and playing with Beatles tracks; Dread Zeppelin fuse reggae, Elvis and Led Zeppelin; Apocalyptica play orchestral, classical music renderings of thrash metal bands (I particularly enjoy their version of Slayer's South of Heaven; a brutal album whose power still comes through even when riffs are cello rather than guitar based!)

We've looked at the work of Andy Rehnfeldt (here's his website; YT channel; Facebook; MySpace; and a random hater!)
Tape-swapping, using the post, was a key means of how emerging genres would evolve and grow back in the 80s; ventures such as this wouldn't have gotten anything like the near 27m views Rehfeldt's vids have enjoyed on YouTube by Nov 2011. His shtick is simple but delivered with real elan: using original video footage, re-present a track re-recorded in an anthitetical musical style - so we get Rebecca Black's Friday as death metal (big improvement there of course!) and some Katy Perry aural atrocity rendered listenable as death metal, but equally Slayer's crushingly heavy Angel of Death as Radio Disney, and Metallica's Enter Sandman as smooth jazz! Have a look and see if he's covered any bands within your genre...

Even Wonderful World gets the death metal treatment...

Kutiman mashes up vids he's found on YouTube
His own site,
Actually mashing video, we have the VJ artist Kutiman, who's had 6.3m hits himself. He runs his own site as well as the YouTube channel; one example of his work follows below


Its not just MVids that steal from (or intertextually reference if you prefer!) film/TV; it works the other way round too. One of the early signs of MTV moving away from a daily diet of MVids was the show Beavis and Butt-head, here enjoying the 'cymbalism' in Nirvana's iconic Smells Like Teen Spirit...

If you're unfamiliar with this show, try for 10 egs!
This rather mean portrayal of the rock fan as empty-headed moron would also find its way into film, with Wayne's World featuring a pair of yokels fronting their own no-budget cable TV review show; here they review Nirvana's gloriously surreal Heart Shaped Box...

They would also create parodies of videos, such as this one of REM's classic Everybody Hurts...

When talking about TV/film in 2011, it makes sense to consider the web as part of this picture, and fan-vids are part of this postmodern mash-up process; here's a fan-vid of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit where the audio is a fan's band and the footage is B+B edited as if performing...

M.LANG: Focus on singer; CCTV style

The drummer's face is less important than his instrumental prowess. Note too the low-key lighting, customary for rock/Indie (glossy, high-key for pop)

Its one of the most immediately apparent Cs+Cs of m.vids: the focus on the lead singer, through frequency of shots plus framing. The Evanescence What You Want (embedded below, but you can also watch it sans ads at is a classic example:

Whilst we get a few shots (MS through to LS) interspersed of band members, often at high angles which obscure their faces and put the focus on their instruments, we never go more than a few seconds without seeing the singer, Amy Lee. She is mainly shown in CU to MS, though some LS included to highlight the band and the excited crowd, a key ingredient in many performance-centred vids.
Predominately CUs to MS of the singer, tho' some LS/MLS are framed to show aud/band
Fans + band both in shot, tho' note the central framing of Lee
The focus-on-singer is taken further by having the singer perform the fictional or dramatic role which we crosscut to; she's running (note the use of coloured contacts as a small but key component of mise-en-scene: this carries connotations of animal/beast, or supernatural) ... and that's pretty much it! This being an emo/goth/metal/Christian metal (there is debate over label applies!) band, moody night-time urban settings, including a bridge (connotations of depression, the suicide impulse?) are used. The band's music is mournful but aggressive, and many commentators would note that many forms of rock music carry out a cathartic function by speaking directly to (especially) teen/youth audiences about tough times and experiences; general alientaion, but doing so in a musical format that enables a physical release of pent-up emotions, and a sense of fellow-feeling/not being alone.
THEORY LINK: The Uses + Gratifications model; especially relevant to discussions of Audience
Band branding is a matter of balance though: a band who are exclusively linked to the image of a singer may suffer issues of credibility. So, while the looks and body of Amy Lee are clearly strongly highlighted throughout this vid, we do, towards the end, see the other band members briefly enter this fictional part of the vid (whether concept or narrative I couldn't say without studying the lyrics).
These sequences are linked by helicopter shots of a city at night: connotations of Gotham City?!

Another band whose vids showcase this tension between highlighting the most marketable component of the band whilst striving for the credibility so critical within the broad rock and Indie genres: Guns 'n' Roses. At their 80s/90s peak, every band member was world-famous, but now its become the sole property of the original singer, W. Axl Rose. Its fascinating to see how 'the band' came back into focus over the years as the marketeers tried to balance out the need to foreground Rose with the need to convince fans that this was a tight unit, a credible, authentic band. One of the iconic images of their ealrier period was of guitarist Slash guitar soloing on a mountain top, seen through a helicopter shot, part of what was then the most expensive music video ever made, November Rain - their videos had to reflect the exceptional fame and standing of the band members, not just the singer.

Heteronormative: crude male gaze
G'n'R are also a useful example of the second point: how 'looking' is handled in vids. Mostly we see a very direct gaze to camera, part of the mode of address making a direct link to the audience. But we also see this notion of looking deconstructed, often in quite a postmodern fashion. G'n'R's Welcome to the Jungle vid features Axl Rose playing himself getting off a bus in LA as a straw-chewing hick (reflecting his actual backstory) ... but he stops to look in the window of a TV store, where every TV is playing a video of ... Axl Rose, performing with G'n'R!

Thats Axl on the TVs...and Slash the passed-out bum outside!
Here, with the Evanescnce vid, we see another very common meme employed: much of the footage of Amy Lee running is distorted and rendered as CCTV. This clearly signifies the zeitgesit: 'we' (in the West) are accustomed to being tracked by cameras in much of our daily lives (there is CCTV in F6, the F-Hall etc!). This device carries connotations of criminality: through Crimewatch and the likes we associate CCTV with criminal behaviour. If you watch Misfits you'll have seen this used. BUT ... aren't there also connotations of the singer's feeling of claustophobia and pursuit at the hands of the very fans being targeted with this video?
ALWAYS  look out for and give consideration to the use of looking/gaze in any vid, including your own!!!

Here's an interesting example of how a vid can be used to signify the personal disclocation of a singer, through the prism of Beavis and Butthead...