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Music Video Research and Analysis
Transcript of Music Video Research and Analysis
By Lucy Hatherley
THE PURPOSE OF MUSIC VIDEOS
There are many purposes for a music video:
•It extends the income for both the artist and the record company.
•Music videos are promotional- they promote the music/artist, making the target audience want to purchase that artists album (and, if they like that record company, they may decide to purchase albums of other artists). For example, Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video made Jackson's album become the best selling album of all time, as well as extending his income.
•Some music videos contain synergy, which is where they reference other films and television programmes- this promotes the film/TV programme, therefore extending their income as well. An example of this is Madonna's video Material Girl references the film 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'.
•It also provides a visual experience for the audience members, so they feel closer to the artist and makes the artist feel more accessible.
•It also entertains the audience and gives them another way to listen to music.
Music videos have changed how audiences see and feel about artists/bands and have helped album and single sales to increase. They have given artists identities, as well as made big names out of record companies and music video directors (some of which, like Francis Lawrence and Marc Webb, have gone on to direct major Hollywood motion pictures).
Through music videos, artists and record companies are able to promote their music through many different areas of media, such as the Internet and television- the video helps the track to stand out, making it memorable for audiences. This ensures they remember the song and the artist and may make them want to purchase the album.
Bad Romance- Lady Gaga
Bad Romance, by Lady Gaga, is an award winning song and music video, which was released in 2009 and was directed by Francis Lawrence, who is famous for directing videos for Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, as well as motion pictures like ‘I Am Legend’. The song was written by Nadir Khayat (Khayat is known as RedOne and also produced the song) and Lady Gaga, who is known for writing her own songs.
The story behind Bad Romance is of a woman (Lady Gaga) who is kidnapped from a bath house and sold to slave owners, who force her to dance for them. After being sold in an auction, she sets fire to the man who bought her- Lady Gaga has said that Bad Romance showed her feelings in a relationship and how she always selects the wrong partner to be with- she tries to convey these messages through the mise-en-scene and the stylized feel of the video.
The style of the video is a mix of narrative and surreal as the video appears not to link to the lyrics. Performance is present in a way- Lady Gaga is not performing the song on stage, but lip syncing, to create the effect that she is singing whilst these terrible things are happening to her- this then tells the audience clearly that she is the artist who is being promoted and that it is her song.
The artist is promoted through the surreal look and feel to the video, as she is often recognized by her unusual outfits and make up designs- this image helps her to make an impression and stick in the audience’s mind. The audience is encouraged to feel that Lady Gaga is quite a strange person, therefore making her stand out and be more memorable. By leaving an impression on the target audience, this will increase album/single sales, as the audience may want to try out some of her other songs and find out more about her and her unique style.
The mode of address is quite indirect- the audience is not involved as such, but are more onlookers who are watching what is happening to the principal character. The main target audience appears at first to be young men- Lady Gaga’s costumes are very tight fitting to bring the ‘sex appeal’, which appeals to a primarily male audience. However, the strong, independent woman characterization Lady Gaga brings to her character, particularly at the end, also appeals to women, as her character is quite feminist. Throughout the video, the audience is supposed to feel sympathetic towards Lady Gaga- this is a contrast to the very end, when she is made to look psychopathic and, that actually, she is just as twisted as them. This represents the many different emotions she feels during her relationships, which successfully conveys her chosen message.
The editing appears to have quite a slow pace and mainly consists of simple cuts from shot to shot- this builds up the tension gradually towards the climax so when all the dramatic dance routines start to appear, they feel exciting and fast paced. However, as the pace of the song picks up, the edits become sharper and more frequent- this is to suggest that the negative emotions she is feeling towards her captors are building up, so the audience reach the climax along with the characters and feel how she is feeling.
The mise-en-scene, in some areas, is quite simple, such as the location, which is a simple white, tiled room. This is to create a contrast with the flamboyant costumes and props that are used, causing Lady Gaga to stand out as the main focus of the video. For example, Lady Gaga wears a white costume at the beginning to suggest her innocence, which then changes through the course of the video to costumes of red and black, to show her darker side/emotions now that she has been kidnapped.
Props used include a throne (to represent her high status at the beginning of the video- this is then lost after she is kidnapped), various bottles, a bath (to suggest purity and to create the setting of the bath house) and a pair of headphones (these headphones were designed by Lady Gaga and available to purchase-she is promoting them, as well as her music).
The main colours used in this video are white, to create a bleak, clinical feel (although it has connotations of innocence and purity); red, which has connotations of love, passion, blood and danger and black, which has connotations of death and darkness. These three colours create a very negative atmosphere, which is what Lawrence wanted, as it adds to the dark themes in the narrative.
EDITING AND MISE-EN-SCENE
The lighting varies from quite dark to very bright (this causes the artist and the backing dancers to appear in silhouette, making them seem more mysterious and frightening). By having such contrasting lighting, it is suggested to the audience that there are two sides to the protagonist’s personality- that she is both vulnerable and quite psychotic. Alternatively, it could also represent the emotions that she feels at the beginning, compared to the emotions she feels after she’s been captured.
Many different shots are used to create different effects, such as close ups, mid shots, over the shoulder shots and high/low angles. Lady Gaga tends to be in the centre of the frame, to show the audience that she is the main focus of attention. The close ups bring more emotion to the video, which enables the audience feels very sympathetic towards the protagonist, where as wide shots show the location, which gives the audience an understanding of the narrative. The high and low angles change the status of the
Lighting and Camera Shots
In conclusion, the music video of Bad Romance is very stylized, to reflect Lady Gaga’s image- this makes her memorable to the audience. Realism is not very present, except in the costumes of her captors (they wear simple black clothes to make it clear to the audience that they are 'the villains). The mise-en-scene makes this a unique video that stands out from the crowd, creating interest in the target audience and would therefore boost sales of her albums/singles.
Dancing Queen- ABBA
Dancing Queen is a hit song from 1976, by the band ABBA, who triumphed in the Eurovision Song Contest- the music video was directed by Lasse Hallström, who is known for directing many of their music videos, such as Mamma Mia and Waterloo. He is also known for his work in motion pictures, as he directed What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Chocolat. The song was written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (who were both members of ABBA- they also produced the song), as well as Stig Anderson, who was ABBA’s manager.
The music video is a simple performance video, and therefore does not have a narrative- it focuses purely on promoting the artist, rather than telling a story or conveying a message and promotes it simply by showing the band, lip synching to the song to make it appear as if they are singing. This will make the audience focus purely on them and the music, which is a positive technique as there are no distractions to detract the audience's attention away from the music and so they would therefore remember the song/band and consider buying their singles/albums.
The mode of address is quite direct, as the lead singers are singing into the camera and appear to be looking at the audience (this makes the audience feel involved, as the different shot types make them feel as though they are part of the crowd and that ABBA is singing to them).
The target audience is both male and female (as both genders are represented in the band and in the music video) and this video would appeal to a large age group, as it does not contain any explicit material or material that is not suitable for people of a certain age. Throughout the video, the audience is supposed to feel positively about the band, which is clear in the facial expressions of the band and the light tones of the song and the lyrics.
EDITING AND MISE-EN-SCENE
The lighting is quite dark (to link in with the opening line- 'Friday night and the lights are low') but is light enough so the singers faces are visible- this focuses all of the audience's attention on the band, rather than watching the audience (as ABBA are the main focus of the video- this is also shown by the framing, as the lead singers are generally in the centre of the shot). Red and blue lights have been used to create a fun, interesting atmosphere, which reflects the image ABBA are trying to create for themselves,
Many different camera shots have been used- close ups and two shots have been used to show the expressions of the singers, as well as extreme close ups that show particular parts of the band and their instruments (e.g. there is a shot of Benny Andersson's hands playing the keyboard). High angles have been used to show the movement and the expanse of the crowd, as well as give ABBA the higher status over their audience (as they are the most important part of the video).
Lighting and Camera Shots
There are many different styles of music video, such as:
•Narrative: A music video that tells a story (e.g. Gives You Hell by All American Rejects)
•Surrealist: A music video in which the events seem mostly 'unbelievable' and 'strange'. (e.g. Feeling Good by Muse)
•Interpretive: A music video that allows the audience to imagine the narrative/meaning for themselves. (e.g. Rolling in the Deep by Adele)
•Performance: The artist/band is shown lip syncing to their song/performing their song on stage, in concert. (e.g. Twist n Shout by the Beatles)
•Intertexual: A video that contains references to other films/songs etc. (e.g. Millennium by Robbie Williams)
•Parody: A spoof (e.g. “Eat It” by Weird Al Yankovic)
•Animation: Animation is used- this is sometimes mixed in with clips of the band- styles of animation include stop motion (where every slight movement is a different shot) and digital (where the animation is created on the computer). (e.g. Liberation by the Pet Shop Boys )
•Pastiche:/Impressionist A video that imitates a person/time/video/style (e.g. Walk by the Foo Fighters)
•Lyric: Instead of the artist appearing within a video, the video contains only the lyrics, so that the target audience may join in.
Techniques in music videos include high/low key lighting to represent emotions and to create an atmosphere, special effects to make the video look visually interesting and unique and various camera shots (mainly consisting of close ups to show the artist).
Styles and Conventions
Breaking the Habit- Linkin Park
Breaking the Habit is a song and a music video by the band Linkin Park, which was released in 2004. It was directed by Joe Hahn, who is famous for his work with Linkin Park and was co-produced by Eric Calderon. The song was written by Mike Shinoda, who plays the keyboards in the band.
This music video's main style in animation (Japanese digital animation in particular, as it resembles anime in the way that is has been drawn) and was animated by Studio Gonzo. By having the video animated, it creates the effect that the audience is under the influence of drugs, to make them understand the message behind the video/song. The animation also helps the video to stand out as, traditionally, music videos are live action.
There is not one clear narrative in the video- instead, it follows many characters, such as a man who commits suicide and a girl who writes 'I'm nothing' on a piece of paper. By having these different characters, the audience are shown that drugs affect many people, which then helps spread the message about how serious a problem drugs are.
The band is promoted through the animated style, as it stands out amongst live action music videos and the distinctive, harsh style of animation would leave an impression and enable the audience to remember the band, the song and the video.
The mode of address is quite indirect, as the audience is an onlooker and is surveying the scene (which allows them to make their own judgements about the characters and their situation). However, when an animated version of Linkin Park make an appearance, it becomes direct, as the band is singing to the target audience.
The target audience appears to be adults (as some of the content is not suitable for younger audiences, such as suicide) and is for both genders, as both are represented in the video and neither gender has been given a specific 'sex appeal'.
Throughout the video, the audience is supposed to feel sympathetic towards the characters, which is shown through the facial expressions and through the narrative. By making the audience feel sorry for the characters, the audience understand the message and would possibly act on that.
Promotion and mode of address
The editing in the music video ranges from quite slow to very fast, to show the heightening emotions and the moments of calm within the characters lives- it also shows the various emotions the characters feel towards drugs and the sensation of taking drugs.
The mise-en-scene helps gives the music video a very negative atmosphere. For example, the large city location creates a sense of isolation to show the loneliness of the characters, which is added to by the low key lighting. The simple costumes, such as suits, reflect normality and how drugs can affect anyone and have become almost a normal part of society.
The main props used are police tape (which have connotations of crime and show the audience the negative messages and themes- it could also represent imprisonment and how the characters feel like they are trapped) and tomatoes, which are thrown at a man to suggest hate (this could suggest the hate the audience are supposed to feel towards drugs).
The main colour scheme consists of dark colours such as grey and black, which have connotations of death and depression- these are contrasted with bright colours such as red and green. The juxtaposing light and dark colours represent the different stages of effects of drugs and help bring the message across.
Editing and Mise-en-scene
The general lighting in the shots is very low key, to represent the darkness within the man's life and to create a negative atmosphere- however there is a lot of contrast, to suggest that there is some hope within the darkness and that the audience are the people who can create that hope.
The camera shots mainly consist of extreme wide shots, so the location is clearly shown to explain to the target audience the situation the characters are in and close ups, so the audience can get to know the characters and watch their reactions and how the characters change throughout the video. Lots of high shots are used to give the characters a lower status.
Many shots are repeated, showing the same character/object every time- this could be to represent that the use of drugs isn't stopping and brings across the message that the audience need to help prevent their usage.
Lighting and Camera Shots
To conclude, the music video for 'Breaking the Habit' uses animation to bring across an anti-drug message by using the mise-en-scene, editing and lighting to create a negative atmosphere. Realism is present in most areas, even though it is animated, to prove to the audience that drugs are a large part of society today and, through the negative tone, show the audience that something needs to be done about the situation.
The editing is quite slow paced and lots of the shots are quite long, so the audience has a chance to focus on the singers and listen to the lyrics, without having to focus on lots of different things. The editing consists of mainly cuts, again, to keep the attention on the singers and make the video run smoothly.
The mise-en-scene is very simple- the location is simply a stage, to make it appear as though they are performing (this makes the audience feel as though they are there watching ABBA sing, which is direct address)- the costumes represent the fashion of the 70's, to suggest to the audience that ABBA are a 'fashionable' band, which could possibly cause more people to go and buy their music. The only props used are the instruments- this makes sure that any actions going on do not distract the audience's attention away from the band members.
The main colours used in this video are red, which in this video may have connotations of excitement and love; green could have connotations of fun and excitement and black has connotations of darkness, which makes the audience feel like they are in a disco (which gives the video a positive atmosphere and causes the audience to enjoy the music video more).
Whilst the music video for Dancing Queen is very simple and realistic in it's style, it was a highly successful music video at the time, as it made the song successful around the world (it reached the number one spot in at least 14 countries, including the USA and the UK).
The mise-en-scene helped create an fun image for ABBA and the camera shots helped to maintain the audience's focus on the band and the song. This would then allow the audience to simply listen to the song and then make their own decisions about it (which would then potentially help sell many albums, as the audience feel as though they have actually heard the music, rather than been distracted by surrealism or a narrative).
• First came about in the 1950’s. Examples of artists who created ‘promotional film’ music videos in the 50’s are Elvis (Rock Around the Clock) and the Beatles (A Hard Day’s Night).
• MTV originated in the 1980’s and was the first 24 hour music video channel.
• The first music video shown on MTV was ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ by The Buggles.
• In 1983, MTV were showing about 300 videos a day.
• Top of the Pops started showing music videos in the 1970’s, including Bohemian Rhapsody (which is considered one of the first music videos- it has both elements of surrealism and performance in it).
• Up until the 1980’s, music videos were made on film. After the 80’s, they were made on video (which is much cheaper than film) and in the present day, most are made digitally.
• Music videos gave faces, identities and looks to the artist/band.
• Michael Jackson’s music video ‘Thriller’ (directed by John Landis) has been listed as the ‘Greatest Music Video Ever Made’ and it was largely due to the video that the album sold so well (65-110 million albums sold worldwide in 2010- it is the best selling album of all time).
Popular music genres include pop (e.g. Spice Girls), rock (e.g. ACDC), metal (e.g. Metallica), country (e.g. Dolly Parton), hip hop (e.g. Dr Dre), classical (e.g. Beethoven), folk (e.g. Bob Dylan), blues (e.g. B.B King) and jazz (e.g. Louis Armstrong).
History and Genres
INFLUENCE OF COMMERCIALS
Music videos are in fact adverts themselves, as they advertise the song (or album), the artist, the record company and the director. Many television adverts seem inspired by conventions of music videos (some involve lip syncing and many use montages that are joined by quick edits) and some music videos use codes and conventions of television adverts as well.
TECHNIQUES USED IN MUSIC VIDEOS
• Miming/Lip Sync/Playback: This is used in almost every music video and is simply the band or artist pretending to sing along to their track, which is being played back to them whilst the video is being shot (moving their lips along with the words).
• Multiimage: More than one image is shown on the screen at a time (could be split screening etc).
• Cutting to Beat: A new shot is shown every time another beat occurs in the the song.
• Chroma Key: Greenscreen is used to place different backgrounds behind the artist/band, so it looks like they are in a completely different place.
MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTORS
• Jonas Åkerlund- Telephone(Lady Gaga); Sober (Pink); Moves
Like Jagger (Maroon 5)
• Chris Applebaum- Umbrella (Rihanna); I Love Rock and Roll (Britney Spears)
• Shane Drake- Pressure/Decode (Paramore); I Write Sins Not Tragedies/The Ballad of Mona Lisa (Panic! at the Disco); Stronger/Dark Side (Kelly Clarkson)
• Floria Sigismondia- ET (Katy Perry); Supermassive Black Hole (Muse)
• Francis Lawrence- Bad Romance (Lady Gaga); Run the World (Beyonce); Rock Your Body (Justin Timberlake)
• Lasse Hallström- Well known for directing ABBA’s music videos (Dancing Queen/Waterloo/Mamma Mia etc)
• Wayne Isham- Livin’ On a Prayer (Bon Jovi); Time for Miracles (Adam Lambert); Livin’ La Vida Loca (Ricky Martin)
• Jared Leto- Member of 30 Seconds to Mars and directs a good majority of their music videos (Kings and Queens/A Beautiful Lie/The Kill etc)