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

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Recommended Reading Material

I'm consolidating several past posts here, and including books on media regulation and postmodernism as well as on music video. The more you can apply wider reading and learning on academic concepts and arguments through and in your coursework (especially the Evaluation), the easier you will find the first half of the exam. Section A asks you (Q1a) to apply one or more of a range of concepts to a comparison of your AS/A2 productions, and to discuss theories around one of five key concept areas (MANGeR: Media Language, Audience, Narrative, Genre, Representation) in reference to either your AS or A2 production (it makes sense to go with your A2).
For the second section, there are multiple topics - the one we look at is media regulation. There are suggestions/links for all of these below.

DVD of the greatest director of all?
Simply viewing a wide range of music videos, from different eras and genres, is a good idea. If your blog is set up you can add brief notes/bullet points, with screenshots to illustrate, on what you've found most noteworthy. Looking at past examples of student work is useful too - you'll still find lots of good ideas you could use, and could start to consider the do's and don'ts of successful production - what features are excellent, and which less so?

There are many DVD collections, most usefully of directors such as Anton Corbijn, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham, that span multiple genres and acts but provide some great featurettes going behind the scenes. You can even catch a show on iPlayer now that features 80s videos and interviews with the stars of those. Simply dipping into one of the many music channels and making brief notes (even if it is literally ONE point that could be useful example, helping you evidence 'Use of Conventions From Existing Texts')

The by now huge archive on this blog is naturally highly recommended! I've more retro-tagging to do, but have managed to go back and tag 100s of posts so far.

There are lots of useful sites/e-zines that feature industry news and highlight new (or classic!) videos: LouderThanWar and Loudwire being two examples that I frequently read myself, using their Facebook updates to do so.

The Guardian remains the best newspaper for media news, features and analysis, and its music section will keep you well updated with industry developments.

Book-wise, there are some stand-out options...

Keith Negus' Popular Music in Theory: incredibly useful for both coursework and exam, this gives you a summary of media theories applied to music. Great for the Evaluation, but also blogging about audience; brilliant for both Q1 and Q1b of the exam, and also the pomo essay!

Not particularly academic but very useful for the history of music vids, + refs/analysis to/of many vids and directors you won't have heard of (but which could give you ideas), is Austerlitz' Money For Nothing: A History of the Music Video From The Beatles to The White Stripes. You can of course try a general music video (book) search, and you'll come up the likes of this.

Carol Vernallis has written two useful books, though you may not agree with her arguments. Her 2004 book Experiencing Music Video focusses on her contention that the audio is the primary factor in music video, the visuals are a secondary consideration, a musicologist approach. Her more recent book, Unruly Media, takes a wider look at media which frequently intersect:
Music video, YouTube, and postclassical cinema remain undertheorized. This is the first book to account for the current audiovisual landscape across medium and platform-to try to characterize the audiovisual swirl. Unruly Media includes both new theoretical models and readings of numerous current multimedia works. It also includes several chapters devoted to the oeuvre of highly popular directors, their films, commercials and music videos. Unruly Media argues that attending equally to soundtrack and image can show how these media work, and the ways they both mirror and shape our modern experience. (Amazon blurb)
That rather verbose description gives you a sense of the heavy-going style; these are not easy reads! A much lighter read, and I'd say simply vital for anyone wanting to gain a wide view on the music video format,  Austerlitz' Money For Nothing: A History of the Music Video From The Beatles to The White Stripes is opinionated, and carries none of the academic baggage (pretensions?) of Vernallis and her ilk.

Andrew Goodwin's classic Dancing in the Distraction Factory is one we will reference frequently, and makes for an intriguing comparison to Vernallis.

Especially if you want to explore marketing or business strategies more, Harvard economist Anita Elberse's Blockbusters is a great read as well as an extremely useful book (and is available on Kindle). She surveys the 'entertainment industries' (including football alongside film, TV, music and more) to put forth a binary to Chris Anderson's long tail theory, arguing that only a tentpole strategy can succeed in today's globalised market. The studies of Lady Gaga, Jay Z and other marketing campaigns are superb, and should really help to bring to life the abstract 'web 2.0' notion that fuels media academics such as Gauntlett. 

There are useful DVDs to consider too
The Negus book above is ideal for this, but Dan Laughey's Key Themes in Media Theory is a more recent book that you should find invaluable for section A of your exam (and well beyond if you pursue Media into university). Brian McNair wrote the 1st edition of this book when I was one of his Stirling Uni students back in the day, and it has been established as a classic Media Studies text, on its umpteenth edition in 2013: News and Journalism in the UKThe Sociology of Journalism hasn't been updated, but remains a great overview of Media theory, and intersects nicely with the media regulation topic.

You can find many books which overview media theory; it is one of the most-studied subject areas in schools, colleges and universities after all.

Postmodernism is a subject we will frequently discuss with reference to music video, as well as a core component of the 'Media Language' we look at for the exam, and there are many books on this - in a number of styles: Drolet's The Postmodernism Reader: Foundational Texts (Routledge Readers in History), Sims' Fifty Key Postmodern Thinkers (Routledge Key Guides),Ward's Understand Postmodernism (Teach Yourself (McGraw-Hill)), Powell's Postmodernism For Beginners or his 
Derrida for Beginners, Butler's Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions), Horrocks' Introducing Baudrillard: A Graphic Guide; just a few of the many, many books out there! [you'll have noticed some 'graphic guides' in there - there are a wide range of these on pomo and particular pomo theorists]

Still on pomo, there are works by/about Zizek, a key contemporary pomo thinker, such as Zizek and the Media or his films The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2008) and The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2013). Another DVD which provides a useful overview of philosophy, very relevant for both exam sections (and coursework) is Examined Life, featuring material by the likes of Judith Butler.

For a sceptic's view on web 2.0, try Andrew Keen (including a free Kindle book).

Books such as The Chomsky Reader (or his classic work, Manufacturing Consent) by Noam Chomsky, a leading theorist of the political economy approach (he runs a vibrant Facebook page too, and there are many clips of his lectures on YouTube!) are useful for a wider understanding of the Media. McNair's News and Journalism in the UKThe Sociology of Journalism, mentioned above, is a great book to read. There are countless highly entertaining histories of newspapers - look for Chippindale and Horrie's books as just one example.

There has been a huge amount written on Leveson and Hackgate, though for sheer entertainment value I can't recommend highly enough Burden's Fake Sheikhs and Royal Trappings, which is also available on Kindle. The Guardian journalist Nick Davies and the Labour MP Tom Watson are the two individuals most directly responsible for keeping the hacking story alive, before the Madeleine McCann (apparent) hacking finally made it a huge story, and each have written authoritative accounts. 

If you read just one book on this huge topic, though, it has to be Curran and Seaton's classic, but multiply updated, Power Without Responsibility: Press, Broadcasting and the Internet in Britain. The most recent (seventh!!!) edition was published in 2009; I wouldn't be surprised to see a fresh, post-Leveson edition out soon. I was using the first edition way back in the day when doing my Media degree, and it remains one of the quintessential Media Studies books. It takes you back centuries and into the future - precisely the wide territory a Media student has to cover! It also sharply rejects some of the most central aspects of our media history, especially the whole notion of how we gained a 'free press' as the state withdrew regulation and taxation. It is now on Kindle too.

As above, I'd recommend The Guardian's multiply award-winning media section - there is no real rival for this, though it does of course reflect the paper's broadly left-wing stance (eg, appalled by the Tory attack on BBC funding/independence - which has delighted the right-wing press). There are many sub-sections, with RSS feeds if you use such things. Roy Greenslade's column is particularly good. If you regularly read some of this, you'll pick up a wide range of terms and concepts, never mind examples, that will greatly broaden your understanding of this field.

Again with a huge, mostly now retro-tagged, archive, my own media regulation blog is full of resources, with some very detailed posts and some short, snappy ones. Dipping into it would certainly be beneficial!

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