by Sean Hilton
Most music videos are just awful and these are the reasons why.
|Music has often been said to reflect the culture which spawned it. Music of older generations seemed to focus more on bringing entertainment through the music rather than through any clever gimmicks or fashion statements. When television was created, a new means of musical entertainment was concocted. The channel called MTV(Music Television) was made to exhibit musicians' individual songs with videos often showing the actual musicians. The videos were intended to show another dimension of the musicians and to be an enhanced reflection of the music. But over time the focus became more on the image of the "musicians" rather than on the music itself. With the quality of musical craftsmanship slowly dwindling, the visual reflection of this decline is sadly apparent in the majority of today's music videos, which have fallen into the furthest depths of artistic depravity.
To be able to truly grasp the uninspired nature of today's music videos, it is necessary to discuss the different genres that make up this barren wasteland. Of these genres, rap videos are perhaps the most blatant in their creative decadence. The first attribute of rap videos that stifles any chance of them actually containing something of artistic value is the rappers themselves. One would think that with the surplus of rappers on the scene, some of them would make a slight attempt to create a music video that has at least a tiny node of distinction. Instead, they have a notion that as long as they can rent nice cars, houses, and other miscellaneous items for their videos, then their musical stature is unquestionable. It's also curious as to where they get these girls who just have no objection to competing with a Lexus for most-prized possession. These girls serve no greater purpose than to get people's attention by giving blank looks into the camera as they grope themselves and the rappers. It's then the rapper's honorable duty to espouse his testament of self-infatuation while periodically pointing at the dancing girls, who are secretly hoping that the video will jumpstart their acting career and propel them into future stardom. Sadly, most will be remembered only as "one of the hot chicks" in a ever growing sea of rap videos. The theme of the videos seems to be based around the fact that the rap musicians can get material objects, including girls, to show off in their videos. Some rappers even write songs about the fact that they their videos have material objects. It's obvious that if the element of materialism was subtracted from this genre of music, the majority of rappers would not only be incapable of making videos, but also incapable of writing songs.
Musical Television has managed to support every rapper's delusion of grandeur, but was ultimately made for Pop Music. With Pop music's catchy choruses and overly sentimental themes of love, the two were a match made in commercial music heaven. The problem with pop videos is that they contain no subtlety in the obvious desire to exploit the artist. The musicians are coated in make-up to the point of looking like plastic dolls. The group N' Sync actually had a video in which they intended to look like plastic dolls, attached to strings no less. It's still uncertain if they were deliberately mocking they're own cookie cutter fame, or if they are really that dense. If a weak story or point can't be found to piece the video together, they make the video centered around a big preppy party that looks more like a Gap clothing commercial than anything else. Granted the musicians don't mind the money making scheme, because their just desperate to be exhibited across national television for everyone to gawk at and to confirm that their narcissism knows no bounds. It's hard for pop videos to have a plot, when half the screen is taken up by the musicians face. If I were to give rappers a compliment, I would say at least they are willing to let the girls and other material objects in their videos receive some of the attention.
Rock videos are not much better off in the vanity department. Many of the bands have lead singers who wouldn't object to his band members not even appearing in the videos at all. And it's often they aren't. Instead they pick a well known celebrity like Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) or Jennifer Love Hewitt to appear half naked with the lead singer, who would never actually be with an attractive female if it weren't for his ability to shout as he does pelvic thrusts. Heavy Metal videos are equally silly, only because they try desperately not to be. So afraid of selling out, they go out of their way to make the videos and the musicians as dark and as scary as possible. Instead, they come across as people who want to look intimidating just so they can escape the fact that their from the suburbs.
The problem is that the minute anything in music evokes mass appeal, countless clones can be expected. All an artist needs is an infectious single and good looks, and the rest is taken care of by the huge militia of producers and entertainment gurus. Within a snap of the finger, the same neatly packaged music video is being played every ten minutes or so. Whereas before the musician was unheard of, his or her video is now inescapable. The worst part is that the people who made the video could really care less if the viewer actually feels as though they have retained any sense of artistic appreciation or understanding, just as long as they watch the video and eventually buy the album. The creed of "art for the sake of art" has been overthrown by the creed of "art for the sake of sales". Music videos have become just another marketing tool used to sell a company's commodity.