Wednesday, 31 August 2011

WS - Deconstruction 6 - I Want to Break Free - Queen

Artist - Queen
Song Title - I Want To Break Free
Year - 1984
Genre - Rock
Director - David Mallet

The next video I will look at is Queen's "I Want to Break Free", a very famous video that was released in April 1984.

One of the main reasons this song is so famous is because of it's music video, an example of how effective a music video can be, and how much good it can do for a song or band. For this video, the band members dressed in women's clothes, parodying the long-running, award-winning British Soap Opera, Coronation Street.

Whilst the video was well received in the UK, it was deemed controversial in America and banned by MTV and other stations. This shows the importance of understanding the audience you are aiming your video at, and understanding what they will see as acceptable.

The song was influenced by male's attitudes to the women's liberal movement. The idea behind the song and key theme throughout follows the title of the song.

The opening shot of the video is of the rooftops of houses. The shot is very similar to shots in the opening credits of Coronation Streets, and looks like shots that would normally be associated with the program. Freddie Mercury's character in the video is loosely based on Bet Lynch, an iconic figure from the Soap. Mercury's character is wanting to "Break Free" throughout the video. As well as this, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon also represent characters from the program in Suzie Birchall, Hilda Ogden and Ena Sharples respectively.

Throughout the video, lip-synching is used. The visuals follow the general gist of the lyrics, generally following the theme of wanting to "Break free".

The group do also perform as themselves in the second part of the video. During this part, the band are set up in the same pattern as in the video, Bohemian Rhapsody, showing that bands use ideas more than once and occasionally have links between their music videos.

The genre that this song belongs to is Rock. In musical terms, Rock is often centered around the electric guitar as part of a band with a bass guitar and drums as well. As you can hear in the song, this fits the genre.

The reported budget for this song was £100,000, a large sum of money considering the time the video was made (1984). It shows the significance and the amount of money that music videos could make at that time.

The video is, in the main, a narrative based video. However, with the amount of lip-synching and singing to camera in the video, there are aspects of performance to the video. The majority is narrative though, and tells the story of a character trying to break free, linking in with the words from the title of the song.

The main things that I will take from this video are:

  • The video parodies a very popular Television Program.
  • The video also takes inspiration from other media platforms for characters and ideas for the video. 
  • The majority of the video follows closely to the title of the song, and the title sets a theme for the video.
  • Bands can sometimes use similar ideas from video to video.
  • Understanding your audience is key for the success of a music video.
Below is the video, "I Want to Break Free" By Queen.

Monday, 29 August 2011

WS - Deconstruction 5 - Love The Way You Lie ft.Rihanna - Eminem

Artist - Eminem feat. Rihanna
Song Title - Love The Way You Lie 
Year -  2010
Genre - Hardcore Hip Hop
Director - Joseph Kahn

Love The Way You Lie ft Rihanna by American rapper Eminem is arguably the most powerful video I have looked at, in terms of meaning behind the song, and what happens in the visual aspect of the video.

The song is about a man who loves a woman, but she does not love him back. The video takes this to the next level and incorporates abuse into the relationship, a topic which many people have very strong feelings on.

This is an example of an artist and producer tackling a topic that is relevant to everyday people and a topic which they feel strongly about. It also shows that you can take the visuals in a video to a new level, while still keeping it relevant to the lyrics, and shows that the lyrics can be relevant, without matching them up exactly with the visuals.

The song is part of the Hardcore hip hop genre, often characterized by "an aggressive sound and confrontational lyricism reflecting the urban black male experience".

The lyrics in this song can be linked into the visuals and they do 'compliment' each other, however it is not as strong a link between them as there is in the "JCB song" video for example.  

The video stars Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan as the tweo characters for the Narrative parts of the video. Inter-cut into the Narrative scenes are shots of Eminem and Rihanna singing, and lip-synching is used in these parts. By using Fox and Monaghan, the video gets immediate attention as they are quite 'big' names in the entertainment industry, Fox in particular. It could be argued that both Fox and Monaghan appeal to the female gaze and male gaze theories respectively, which I have in an earlier post, suggested is a common thing in music videos. 

Joseph Khan, the director of the music video said the following about the video:

"We wanted to make a specific story about two people—Meg[an] and Dom[inic]—not a video that was representative of all couples or all domestic violence situations. Megan was the key to this video. I feel like people constantly pick on her because she’s so beautiful but I’ll tell you as a director the reason why their scenes in the video feel so real is because in the moment they were real."

The reason I have highlighted this quote is to show the importance of casting in a music video. The Director of the video has put a lot of emphasis on Fox for why the video was a success.

While I haven't been able to find an exact budget for this video, it is clear that it will have been high for a music video, especially a video in 2010 when Digitalisation has made watching music videos online for free much simpler. I would suspect the budgt to be large due to the actors starring in the video, as well as the special effects, such as the fire on the people.

The video is both Performance based and Narrative based, often inter-cutting between the two. Rihanna and Eminem perform the Performance based parts, while Fox and Monaghan act in the Narrative pats of the video. This is an idea that I will think about should I choose an idea that incorporates both aspects; using different people for the acting and performing parts of the video.

WS - Deconstruction 4 - JCB Song - Nizlopi

Artist - Nizlopi
Song Title - JCB Song
Year - 2005
Genre - Folk/Pop

Director - Laith Bahrani

I decided to look closer at this song and it's video, simply because it is so unusual and is a very good example of a concept based music video. The song actually has it's own website, with a lot of information about the song as well as the band and the ideas behind the song. 

The genre that this song best fits into is folk music. Folk music is defined as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes and as music with unknown composers. The song fits all of these categories to place it well in this genre. The song was produced on the label FDM Records, a family run independent label. This also makes the song an Indie song.

The reason that this video is unusual and a concept based music video is because of the visuals and how they are created. VFrom the videos that I have viewed so far, the visuals have generally been the bands and/or actors performing in roles. This video however, is very different and is an animated video. The beginning shows a notebook opening and the visual images of the video are shown inside this notebook. Th whole video is animated and tells the story relating to the lyrics.

The images or drawings on screen directly link to the lyrics of the song throughout. A couple of examples of this are "And we pull over to let the cars pass" and "And we're holding up the bypass" where, as the lyrics are sang, the visuals match exactly. These are just two small examples of what happens throughout the whole video.

Despite the visuals being animations, there is still lip-synching in the video. Luke (seen in the picture, top right of the blog post) is looking towards the screen for the majority of the video and can be seen saying the words to the song.

This song is actually another example of a band or song-writer using past experience as an idea for their song and to express their opinions. The lead vocalist for Nizpoli, Luke Concannon, is dyslexic and got bullied for it as a child. The song is actually a recollection of what happened when he was a child when his dad would take him to work with him instead of sending him to school. An extended story about this can be seen on the JCB Song website.

As previously mentioned, this video is concept based, however, as is normal with concept based videos, it also has aspects of Narrative to it. The whole video is explaining and following the story of the lyrics, making the video Narrative based as well as Concept based.

The main points to take from this video are:

  • The use of personal experience in videos/songs by some artists.
  • The visuals beginning before the lyrics.
  • An animated video can be very effective, but would also take an extreme amount of time and skill.
  • Unusual ideas and 'thinking outside the box' can be very effective and lead to an extraordinary and different video. 
  • This song matches the visuals almost exactly throughout, this is something that we could consider when making our own videos.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

WS - Deconstruction 3 - Learn To Fly - Foo Fighters

Artist - Foo Fighters
Song Title - Learn To Fly
Year - 1999
Genre - Alternative Rock
Director -

Although I have already deconstructed a video by this band, I thought it would be a good idea to look at two videos by the same band at least once during the opening part of the coursework, to see if their videos differed in style, or whether bands appear to stick to a single way of music video.

This song belongs to the same genre as the other song deconstructed by this band: Alternative Rock. Despite being from the same genre however, the music videos are very different.

Throughout this video, the members of the band take on a number of different characters, with the lead vocalist performing as six different characters. Throughout there are a number of close-up shots of the different band members. There are also close-ups of Jack Black and Kyle Glass, who have guest appearances in the video through their affiliation with Dave Grohl, who has drummed for their band Tenacious D.

An important thing to know about this video is that it is a parody of the movie "Airplane!". This shows that bands look at other media's for ideas and inspiration for their videos and is something that may have an impact on our own videos.

This video seems to have a very contrasting 'mood' to that of "Best Of You". The mood of "Best of You" seems very down, miserable and depressive. Comapre that with this video where the mood is more upbeat ad happy, and you have a great contrast between the two videos, despite been from the same band. 

Another part of the video that I picked up on was that the visual starts before the music and also ends after the song has finished playing. However, there is additional music playing through these parts (music that isn't connected to the actual song). This would be an idea that should be considered when designing and making our own videos.

There are a number of different aspects to this video compared with the other video by this band that I have looked at. The main difference for me however, is that while "Best Of You" was mainly a performance based video, this video, "Learn To Fly" is in general a narrative based video. There are slight aspects of performance in this video, such as when the band are seen performing on the television screens, but the majority of the video is Narrative based.

The main things I will consider after watching this video are:
  • Having the visual extended before/after the song.
  • Having members of the band used as different characters (obviously this would be hard to do if not using a local band where you know the band members.)
  • Parodying a film/other music videos.
  • Using films or other media to inspire our own music videos.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

WS - Deconstruction 2- Best Of You - Foo Fighters

Artist - Foo Fighters
Song Title - Best Of You
Year - 2005
Genre - Alternative Rock
Director - Mark Pellington

Best Of You is a song that was released in 2005, by the Foo Fighters.The song belongs to the Alternative Rock genre.

The video was directed by Mark Pellington. Pellington's wife died and it is thought he was drawn to this song due to it's notion of dealing with pain. I make a point of this because it is an example of music video directors using personal experiences to influence and shape their ideas for their videos.

One very noticable thing about this video is actually the first shot. When looking at codes and conventions early in the course, I made the point that music videos generally seem to consist of fast paced shots and edits. However, in this video the first shot lasts 44 seconds before a jump cut to the first Narrative part of this video. Following on from this, the length of shots and cuts seems to become more conventional, and much faster.

The video is, like many other music videos, a combination of perfomance and narrative based. The majority of the video is performance based, with the band often seen playing on top of an abandoned hospital. This links in with the lyrics about pain, as does most of the narrative shots that often show pain,depression and anger. The majority of the video is made up of performance based shots.

The visuals in the narrative shots in the video are often very closely linked to the lyrics of the song. For example, words such as "pain" are repeated in the song, and there are a number of shots of pain and suffering throughout. This shows an example of a music video linking the lyrics and th visuals together and provides something to be thought about when planning a music video.

As previously said, the majority of the video is performance based. There are a number of close up shots of the lead vocalist (in particular the first 44 seconds of the video; the single shot talked about earlier). There are also shots of other gang members, but fewer than the number of shots and time on screen of the lead vocalist. He is also seen on his own away from the hospital roof throughout parts of the video, suggesting possibly that he is breaking away from the rest and the things which confine him, which is an important message from the song. 

For much of Alternative Rocks hisory it has been defined more by it's rejection of the commercialism of mainstream culture than by the type of music that actually belongs to the genre. This seems clear in this song, and the song is actually about breaking away from what confines people, rather than been stuck in confinement. 

This music video seems one that should be looked at really closely when planning our own music videos as their are a number of conventions used, such as using a strange/unconventional setting and close-ups of important people in the band or figures that are easily recognisable, but it also breaks away from a number of common conventions, such as the long shot at the beginning (rather than fast paced shots) and having close-ups of an unshaven man with quite long hair, moving away from the idea of male/female gaze where the close-ups would be of a highly attracive person. Because of the mix of conventions followed and conventions not followed, the video provides a good overview and could ignite a number of ideas.
Overall I think this could be a very helpful video when planning on making our own Music Videos later in the course.

Monday, 15 August 2011

WS - Deconstruction 1 - Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles

Artist - Buggles
Song Title - Video Killed The Radio Star
Year - 1981
Genre - New Wave, Synthpop
Director - Russell Mulcahy

Video Killed The Radio Star, by The Buggles was the first video to be shown on MTV when it first began broadcastic on August 1st, 1981. For this reason it seems an appropriate video to start with when looking into the Music Video industry.

The song belongs to the genres of New Wave and Synthpop. New Wave is a sub-genre of rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970's.  Synthpop is a genre of popular music in which the synthesizer is the dominant musical instrument. The Synthesizer can be heard throughout the song, and is seen during the video, a sure sign that this video belongs in that genre.

The lyrics of the song can be quite closely linked to the video and the visuals. For a lot of the video, the lead singer is on screen and the video uses lip-synching. However, there are also parts of the video, such as near the beginning where there is a little girl listening to a radio, and later on where the lead singer is been shown through a TV, that link in with what the lyrics are saying. Lip-synching is a big part of this music video however, keeping a strong link between the lyrcs and the visuals.
In many ways the same could be said for the relationship between the Music and the Visuals. At different stages throughout the video, a member of the band playing a Synthesizer can be seen, as well as objects such as radios and television, all potential sources of music. The singer is also using a microphone and singing into it, adding to the feel of the performance based style of the music video.

There are, included in the video, a number of close-up shots on Trevor Horn, the lead vocalist. There are also shots of Geoff Downes playing instruments, although fewer than the number of shots of Horn. This shows that more emphasis is put on the vocals (in this video at least) than on the band members playing the instruments. 

This particular music video is very much performance based. Whilst there is aspects of Narrative to it, such as the girl near the beginning and the female who appears in the tube during the middle of the song/video, the majority of the video is based around the band performing the song, making it a perfomance based video.

Below is the Music Video for "Video Killed The Radio Star"