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Analysis of The Verve- 'Bittersweet symphony'

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Charlie Rideout

on 25 September 2013

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Transcript of Analysis of The Verve- 'Bittersweet symphony'

Analysis of The Verve- 'Bittersweet symphony'
Camera angles and shots
The music video starts off with a close up of Ashcroft's feet; he is walking along the street. The music is non-diegetic as you can hear his footsteps. It then tracks his movement until he stops whilst zooming out to a medium then even further to a wide angle. This draws our attention to this shot as we are anticipating some action; this is because Ashcroft stops at a road which is clear to walk across. At this point Ashcroft is in the centre of the frame and the camera is at eye- level with him. This angle captivates our attention to his angry/passionate expression. The drums then come in and Ashcroft starts to walk again. In the background of this shot you can see roadworks; these often cause frustration with people. However, Ashcroft has no care in the world as he walks down the street. As he crosses the road and just avoids hitting a car, this demonstrates the dangerous path his life is leading him.

The shot stays at a wide angle until he is about to walk into someone the shot changes to a point of view shot of Ashcroft walking into people. This puts us in his position (its first person now rather than third); we then want him to move out the way. Instead he 'uncontrollably' knocks people over. Throughout the section of the music video where people are knocking into each other there is notation of Goodwin’s theory: ‘There is frequent notion of looking’. For example, after Ashcroft has barged over the women there is a man who reacts to him in the background. Additionally the pedestrians are constantly looking back at Ashcroft once he has knocked not them; however he has no reaction and continues to walk. Throughout the music video the shots are constantly moving or tracking they are never still, whether its the wide angle of Ashcroft or a closeup of his face.

When the chorus comes in Ashcroft starts to sing. The camera then goes to a close up of his face, to a close up, back to his face and to the feet again and then back to the wide angle. This variety of shots makes the music video interesting along with all the action: knocking over people and nearly getting hit by a car. Without the shots and action this would have been a boring music video.

Editing and special effects
The shots are all cut on the beat of the music. This helps keep the realism with the audience and the video as we can believe what’s going on without noticing the lack of smooth transitions. There are no fades in the video just sharp cuts from one shot to another.

Some special effects have been used throughout; the video has had a blue filter put over it. This could connote calmness and freedom. These connotations reflect the actions of Ashcroft as he is barging into people without reacting at all. He even has a lady shouting at him however he still doesn’t react. Ashcroft's actions demonstrate freedom and calmness by ignoring these people. Ashcroft has got very dark eyes and a pale face possibly purposeful to make this emotions stand out as we are drawn to his eyes!

The music video is set in a busy town street. It seems derelict due to the state of the shops towards the end of the video which are all run down. Furthermore, there are bin bags in the road along with rubbish at the start off the video. This would once again connote the narrative of the video as Ashcroft's life is not leading him down the path he wants to go. This is further emphasised by his all black clothing which could connote negativity, death and mystery. However, it could also connote sophistication.

Additionally, Ashcrofts performance is interesting as he seems entirely focused on what he is doing as he is walking freely. This could portray another sub- meaning of the song as he seems to be rebelling against the rules by knocking into people etc. This could possibly connote that life is to short to abide by the rules you have to live life day by day the way you want to.
The lighting throughout the video is very dark with little light. This lighting at some point gives Ashcroft a shadow on his face. this conveys the character mystery or possible confusion of his life.
The genre and the song
The music video to The Verve's song 'Bittersweet symphony' is a hybrid video. As it includes two genres of music video; performance and narrative video. 'Bittersweet symphony' was the verve's most successful song; it was released on the 16th of June 1997 as a single which came from 'The verve's' third album, 'Urban hymns'. It reached number two in the official U.K charts between 1997-1998.

The song is all about the sense of desperation you feel as your life passes before your eyes and you struggle to control it. It is about which path you take and whether your life is following the one you want to follow or not. This is conveyed in the music video as Ashcroft is walking down the street and is almost hit by a passing car, knocks over a old woman, strolls into people, walks over a car hood that is in his path, thus causing the woman to rant at him. However, he doesn't react to her instead he continues down his path. This connotes the narrative of the video as Ashcroft doesn't change his path; its as if he has no control of his direction and what he is doing. However, the lyrics 'your a slave to money, then you die' could convey another meaning: that you spend your whole life, saving money and paying taxes, your hole life is about money. Instead of the important things, family and friends etc. Furthermore, during the video Ashcroft, is singing throughout the video: therefore it is a performance video as well.
Throughout the music video the use of Mise-en-scene, camera angles/shots, and editing has been able to connote many meaning of the song. However most importantly for a music video it is entertaining and will entice the viewer to buy either the video or the song. This is because of all of the different aspects going on and the different meanings. The users and gratification code would suggest that the differences in the meanings of the video will cause debate amongst people. Thus, increasing the audience debate and buzz about the song. Inevitably increasing the buyers of the song.
Rubbish in road
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