Whatever happened to the music video?
One would think that this social media era that we are currently living in would be ripe for cultivating with this specific form of visual media. Sure, music videos are still shared, talked about, and created with quite a bit of frequency, but let’s be honest: no one ever really talks about them anymore.
The music video craze began in the 80s, when MTV hit the airwaves. Then, people had easy access to seeing some of their favorite artists perform in the comfort of their own homes. Everyone knows the impact that videos such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” had on popular culture at the time, a trend that progressed through the 90s and early 2000s and then came to an abrupt halt that began sometime within the last decade.
So I ask again, whatever happened to the music video?
They surely do still exist and are being made, but why is it that these videos can no longer influence the masses as easily as they used to?
The sound-byte culture that came with social media is likely the cause of the fall of the music video within popular culture. Today, the media that we can consume comes at us in such large quantities and varieties that it is impossible for us to give our full attention to any one thing unless it immediately catches our attention. This is why memes and gifs are so popular in today’s age of the internet. These forms of media are quick and to the point and do not require more than a second or two of a person’s attention to fully appreciate.
Now let’s look at music videos. While some are still able to break through the threshold of the Facebook wall scroll, most of the time, a three-minute video just cannot be bothered to watch when there is so much else out there being forced into our faces. We have all been there before; carelessly swiping up through our various social media feeds, occasionally stopping because an outrageous image or catchy headline drew us in on one post for a few seconds, and then it is on to the next one.
The people of the internet era are difficult to impress. Back in the early days of music videos, artists were delivering pieces of entertainment that were never really seen before. Musicians and directors could concoct a piece of art that expressed images and ideas that could not have been created in any other medium. This allowed videos to take risks and show people a side of music that was never seen before.
Today, there is not much that shocks people any more. There have been so many music videos produced over the past 30 years that there really is not much that people are impressed by. Yet it is the little, unobtrusive aspects of today’s videos that make them so interesting.
For example, Mac Miller’s video for his song “Stay” is simply different shots and angles of him rapping the song in a visually interesting beach location. At first glance, there is nothing special about the video, but when examined thoroughly, one can get lost in the different perspectives and angles that the camera gets on Mac Miller as he moves across the sand. It creates a trippy atmosphere that enhances the song to a new level and creates a different experience from simply listening to the song without the video.
It is within these moments that one can see the potency of the music video and the unique experience one can attain from watching one.
So whatever happened to the music video? Well, they never went away, but they surely will not be making a comeback any time soon either.
With that said, never forget that there will always be something to appreciate about them, and there will always be someone out there willing to push the boundaries of what can be possible when one combines visual and aural mediums.