Most of us grew up watching music videos on MTV so sometimes, we rave endlessly about them. However, some of the best songs that we’ve heard were unfortunately complemented with music videos that were unbearable to watch, as proven by NME.
Let’s not be too quick to blame the musicians for that though because we all know that songs are meant to be enjoyed through our ears instead of our eyes. Plus, it was MTV who created these music videos to promote musicians’ singles and boost their releases. From as early as the 80s, we’ve seen how filming styles have evolved and the amount of time and energy put into music video productions are different in comparison to the average videos we come across every single day.
Thanks to online video streaming services such as YouTube and Vimeo, people can now pay more attention to the details of these music videos that have undoubtedly helped musicians define their musical styles:
1. Nell – “The Day Before”
Korean may not be your first language but the tune itself is enough to make you feel depressed melancholic. The music video for Nell’s “The Day Before” impacted us hard with its beautiful yet depressing interpretation of death, or more specifically the moment before a person commits suicide.
Every little detail they’ve meticulously put into the video was simply mind-blowing as the video fully expressed the song’s lyrical messages. There were many different interpretations of the relationship between the characters but to us, that didn’t really matter – what mattered the most was the content that the band was trying to convery.
2. Oren Lavie – “Her Morning Elegance”
Out of all the stop-motion style music videos we’ve watched, Oren Lavie’s “Her Morning Elegance” is the coolest and if not, the most beautiful. “Her Morning Elegance” is a song from Oren Lavie’s self-written album “The Opposite Side of the Sea”. Directed by Oren Lavie, the video for “Her Morning Elegance” was said to have been shot in 48 hours without a break. In fact, it required a month of computer-assisted storyboarding prior to the shooting of the video.
2,100 original stills of the music video were exhibited online and a certificate of authenticity is attached to each print. Despite not winning an award, the video garnered over 20,000,000 views on YouTube and was nominated for “Best Short Form Music Video” during the 2009 Grammy Awards.
3. M83 – “Midnight City”
All the music videos from French electronic music band M83 prove that band has always been consistent in creating cinematic-style music videos. In 2012, the band collaborated with Fleur & Manu to produce a music video trilogy for a few songs off their album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”.
The trilogy starts off with the music video for “Midnight City”, which is then followed by “Reunion” and “Wait” in chronological order. The video follows a group of children with super-human abilities who are trying to escape their prison so that they can live like regular kids. Filmed through the kid’s eyes aka the kid’s perspective, the directing team aims to “re-connect with a meaningful subject that would have an echo in today’s world”. Anthony Gonzales of M83 also said that “cinema is the biggest influence” on him, which is why the band tried to convey that message through the trilogy.
4. Cold Mailman – My Recurring Dream
First thing you will notice in the music video for Cold Mailman’s “My Recurring Dream” is the multiple tracking shots that are interconnected with each other. It may seems the shots are clustered and confusing but it’s a very well executed video as they were all shot in a very neat order. Other techniques that have also been applied to the music video includes time-lapse and reverse editing.
Norwegian director, André Chocron takes us through a fantastical recurring dream world through the music video and there’s no denying that some of the scenes will remind you a little of the dream sequences in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”. From the endless staircase to the underwater dancers to the men on skateboards, these combination of shots caught music critics’ attention for its whimsical scenes. Thus, it came as no surprise that the video was nominated for The UK Music Video Awards in 2013.
5. Frank Ocean – “Thinking About You”
If Cold Mailman’s “My Recurring Dream” isn’t whimsical enough for you, perhaps the bedtime story as told in Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You” is your thing then. Ocean’s song did help set the mood for the music video as it begins with slow-moving melodies. The music video may not be entirely related to the lyrics but the cinematography, coupled with the beautiful tune, are a match made in heaven.
Directed by visual art group High5Collective. the music video centres on a doctor (played by Frank Ocean) who is telling a story to a boy about an injured man who sought help from the Native Americans to save his dying sister. The man is required to collect a mysterious stone for them to perform the mystical ritual on the dying sister. Did the man manage to save his sister? Well, you’ve got to find it out yourself 😉
6. Explosions in the Sky – “Postcard From 1952”
Sometimes, all we need is just a video that seemingly slows down time enough for us to enjoy the most precious moments in our lives. Such can be said about the cinematic work for Explosions in the Sky’s “Postcard from 1952” music video, which brings us back into this tiny part of humans’ most precious moments in an exquisite slow-mo style.
Directed by Annie Gunn and Peter Simonite, the video complements the music with some of life’s most precious moments such as a baby’s early steps, a kid’s birthday celebration, and so on. The slow-mo shot is stunning as it gives us the impression of how beautiful the world is in a slow pace mode. Together with the soothing melody, the music video is a fine example of how images can help define a music style as the vocals’ harmonises fit perfectly with the cinematography.
7. OK Go – “I Won’t Let You Down”
Calling them creative is an understatement as the music videos from OK Go have always been smart and fascinating for us. From a treadmill dance to dancing dogs to stunt driving, there is almost nothing that the band can’t do! They recently took it up a notch by including aerial shots and other innovative techniques in their music video for “I Won’t Let You Down”. The creative music video was directed by frontman Damian Kulash and creative director of Mori Inc, Morihiro Harano.
With a little help from Honda (who paid for the film), the band members included their rides on Honda’s motorised scooter chairs as part of their choreography. However, it wasn’t only the chairs that helped create the successful video; it was also the cooperation from those who were involved in the making of music video! Without the use of edits and cuts, the music video was filmed in one take with dozens of choreographed dancers. While it may seem impossible, both the band and the dancers were able to create a satisfying bird’s eye view of their synchronised dance routines. Every technique they used in the video worked really well with the music to create this visionary piece.
So, what are some of the music videos that have left you in awe for its artful compositions or awesome shooting techniques? Share with us in the comments box below!