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‘Art’ of the music video

This post was written by Ben Masbaum, New Media intern.

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Ben Masbaum

With this being my first blog for the IMA, I implore you to scroll away if you consider yourself one of those people who doesn’t particularly hold noobies in high regard. If you’ve stuck around, allow me to share a few thoughts on music videos as an art form.

I remember sitting in my living room when I was thirteen years old: voice cracking, flannel shirt around my waist with my combat boots on the coffee table and my mother urging me to wash my hair.  I couldn’t, of course, because I was busy watching MTV, pre-Real World and before the internet we know of today.  I would stare the wild camera effects of the music videos and think to myself, “Wow!  I love this!” It seemed easy to do and I wanted to be a part of it.

Fifteen years later, I’m about half-way there… with a bit of a different idea on the whole thing.
Music videos are a thirty year old venture that have gone from phenomenon to nuisance in the span of their lifetime.  I’ve seen so many mundane videos in the last ten years which only seem to be created to fulfill some pop star’s need to be seen on T.V. I actually believe that the music should support the video (Which I’ll get to in a bit).  That is it!

Enough about pop stars. Let’s talk about art. The music video as an art form can and should showcase the artist behind the camera and the artist at the editing table, as well as the musician (and in some cases more than the musician!) At the same time, the video should not lose track of the overall message.

It’s about experimentation.  Boundaries that cannot be crossed in conventional cinema are welcome in the music video world. An artist who is not crossing those boundaries is missing the point.  A great example is Michel Gondry.  Known for films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Human Nature, and Be Kind, Rewind, Gondry also swims through the music video world. He has given mainstream videos a wake-up call and a smack in the face.  Here are some examples:

Occasionally, one will find collaboration between video artist and musician.  I’ve always favored this concept.  In fact, this an idea that I have put on my personal hit list.

However, one problem that can arise with this kind of collaboration is that the video art probably already comes with a soundtrack of some sort. If the artist decides to replace the music, the results can be drastically different. In the next example, the musical artist Kenna and video artist Mark Osborne team up on a video.  Kenna’s song “Hell bent”  is dubbed over an already existing clay animation short by Mark Osborne, called “More.”

The Kenna/Osborne collaboration is better, in my opinion.

Videomaker.com says that the primary goal of a music video is to serve the music artist.  I don’t completely agree.  I believe that this philosophy has turned the video into a showboat opp for musicians, not always in the best interest of the song and the story.  I think that the audience is fed up with artists in music bragging about themselves on this platform.  Aren’t they?  I certainly hope so. Sure, I believe that the video should exist to serve the song.  But perhaps the music can serve the video just as well.

You’ve probably heard enough of my ranting and raving on this matter.  I suppose it is up to me and others like me to step up and do something.  Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve already taken a stab at it.  This one is mine:

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Musings, New Media

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