Friday, September 08, 2006

Why are all videos the same?

When people ask me about what music videos - they have one of two questions. It's either "Where do you guys come up with those wild ideas?" or "How come all the videos look the same?" Are music videos on the cutting edge or simply rehashing the same-old visual catch-phrases? I guess it depends on who you ask.

People in their thirties usually don't watch many videos (nor should they, videos are sales tools aimed at junior high kids). But these adults often have strong opinions that videos are lame and not as good as the Kajagoogoo and Greg Kihn clips they remember from their own wasted youth. Well videos are better in some ways today, they are just more likely to be from "inside the box" that record labels want them in.

By the way, when I mention "music videos" in this post I am referring to big budget, major label clips. It is not that homebrew clips don't count (witness the success of OK Go on treadmills), it is that I know less about that part of the industry. Micro budgeted movies at avant garde film festivals are certainly still "movies" but they are also definitely not Hollywood movies. I guess I am writing today (and almost always) about the "Hollywood movie" side of music videos. If you like weird and unique music videos, you prolly already know about antville.

Overall, music videos are a lot the same because they should be a lot the same. If you can tell Dem Franchise Boyz apart from Ying Yang Twins or Yung Dro from Young Joc - you win a prize. That similarity of musical style needs to be reflected in their videos. If dudes are rapping about rims and girls with big butts - what should the video be? Stop motion animation made out of pipecleaners and old polaroids of Fiona Apple and Siouxsie Sioux? This is not to excuse all the lazy, poorly thought out videos on TV, but to offer a reason why they end up the way they do.

Most music is the same, so most videos are the same. The videos for Panic! @ the Disco should look like slightly lower budgeted Killers videos. That's what the band sounds like, that's how they should be marketed. Video directors would be doing a disservice to a straight ahead artist (like TI or Nick Lachey) if they tried to make some weirdo, art-school music video. Bjork needs odd-ball videos, because they reflect who she is. Music videos need to connect with their intended audience, so Weezer videos are quirky and Busta Rhymes videos are full of braggadocio and jewelry. Why confuse the record buying public with imagery that is NOT what the artist and their music really is?

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