Thursday, September 3, 2015

Music Videos as Short Films

When I studied film in college, we barely spent 2 weeks discussing Music Videos as short film. I got the sense that the professor felt that since they were no longer used as marketing trains for bands, (this was 2006 - 2007) they were somehow not important pieces of film.

Well, thanks to YouTube the music video has made a come back launching careers like Macklemore and Pomplamoose.

It's something I've thought about a lot lately as Sal and I have been having late night dance parties any random Friday night where we have nothing to do. We'll take turns shouting out a song we want to hear, put it on YouTube, and blast it.

Some videos are iconic like Micheal Jackson's Thriller, visually disturbing videos like Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun, and visually stunning videos like Daft Punk's Around the World and Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice.

The thing is, all of these music videos have directors. And sometimes those directors spend 3-5 minutes doing a visual art project. 

But then there are directors that somehow tell a really complicated story in their time. And the one I'm most impressed with is when they capture human infatuation with someone they love. 

I'm going to start with Third Eye Blind's cover of Beyonce's "Mine." This is really the video that sparked my brain to think about this. It came up randomly one night while I just hit play on the music section of YouTube. 

It's a view from the singer's eyes about a girl he is obviously in love with. All the little things he notices about her. Her silliness wearing giant pixel glasses, the wind blowing through her hair as the sun captures her natural beauty, and the way she laughs. And when you do see the singer on screen, he's happy. His attention is focused on her. 

In melodramatic more angsty teenager way, Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" tells the story of young love torn apart because a young man decides to join the military during war time. This one is actually filmed like a movie, with scene's between the music, adding almost 3 minutes to the music video. 

It shows the struggle of being apart when circumstances are beyond your control.

And then there's Death Cab for Cutie's "A Movie Script Ending" showing the heart break of driving with a lover to the air port to see him off for what feels like forever. You can't enjoy simple things with your lover, like getting Chinese takeout, because you already miss him so much. 

And although, somewhat of an overused trope, Eve 6's "Here's to the Night" has a love struck man, supposedly filming a party, but very obviously focusing on the girl he likes. There's stimulation going on all around him, but he still zooms the camera past all his dancing friends to focus on this one girl. 

When you start thinking about Music Videos as short movies, it can change the entire feel of the video. Certain songs that weren't landing before might have a new emotional grasp on you when you see a story play out in front of you.