Music videos have always been a promotional tool to enhance the artist. But these days we are seeing more and more iconic videos by singers who have made artistic expression their staple.
Michael Fitzer explains the changing world of music videos:
In the last 25 years, the invigorating art form of making a music video has grown to be one of the most influential and individually stylistic modes of production in the industry. From the first frame to the last, music videos serve as a blank canvas to your mind’s eye, a place to show the world what you can really do when let loose with a camera. But, if you let your creative juices drown your common sense approach to production, your music video masterpiece could wind up a public-access catastrophe.
David Porter at suite101.com explains the history and significance of the music video:
In the 1970s, David Bowie was a leading exponent of music video, using film directors and photographers. Swedish stars Abba realised from the outset how the short visual-imaged film matching the song could enhance the appeal, telling the story in a stronger way than music alone. This was also the time of increasing domination by television as the most pervasive medium in people’s lives.
Into more recent years, the way the arts feed off and influence each other, can be traced in music videos such as Michael Jackson’s 1983 14 minute “Thriller”. Voted all-time most influential pop video, it owes much to classic Hollywood dance/musicals. Film maestro Martin Scorsese directed Jackson’s “Bad” in 1987, said to be influenced by the Sharks and Jets fight in the 1955 film of West Side Story. Madonna’s 1985 promo video for “Material Girl” is based on staging of “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).
Videos have become technically sophisticated, sometimes intercutting concert footage with stories with images with imaginative messages. In this sense, the music video has paralleled the development of the TV and cinema commercial in increasing complexity demanded by tech-savvy advertisers and viewers.
Like photography, paintings, songs, films and plays, music videos are no different from other art forms. If they offend authority, sell a given product, are enjoyable as pieces of high-tech experiment, are mastering the power of the internet, then they have staked their claim as legitimate art in their own right.
In 2010 the artists that stand out differently than the other are Lady Gaga and Kanye West. Their music videos resemble short films where art collaborates with music, dance and societal issues. It will be interesting to see how these artists grow within their art form and set new boundaries for others to excel to, like Michael Jackson did.
Here is Kanye West’s music video for Runaway that inspired me to view the evolution of music videos throughout history.