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The History of Music Videos: under the alternative genre

The History of Music Videos: under the alternative genreBy Richard Morelli

Music videos, where did they come from?A music video is simply a fast paced short film made to parallel a song or piece of music.

They became most popular when record companies started producing more and more music videos as a method of promoting the band and ultimately selling records.

Originally they were known as Promos (short for promotional videos) as that was their primary asset as far as the studios were concerned.

When the term Rock Video can around in the 1980s, it became very popular as a from of portraying a new form of visual entertainment.

Photo from Queens Bohemian Rhapsody. This was the first ever synchronised music videoWhat impact has MTV had on alternative videosAs the turn of the century approached, MTV had implanted their presence deep inside everyones minds as the best exporter of tunes since 1981.What MTV managed to do was deliver the most modern music to the consumer, their most successful approach of course being music video. MTVs first launched music video was Video Killed The Radio Star (ironic) and was a huge success! It gained nearly 7 million in the short space of 18 months. Acts as diverse as Michael Jackson and Green Day, Guns n Roses and 2Pac have been featured. What a difference from today, Where the company is more focused on reality television than music videos.

3Analysis of an existing videoI will be doing an analysis of the video Rusted from the rain by Billy Talent which is in the alternative rock genre. I have picked out and expanded on the elements that make the codes and conventions of alternative rock in the moving image. The two main factors are video and sound, how do these two play off of one another and parallel the typical traits that come with the genre?

Analysis of an existing video

After a series of slow paced shots of the homeless man picking up litter and putting it in his trolley. As an audience we then see the lead singer make his first appearance as a close up. This is often done in alternative music videos, either the lead singer or the lead guitarist are shown first as its what the audience/fans want to see first and secondly identify the band playing the song in order to carry on watching. The fact its a close up register that it wants you to identify with him.Nirvana - SliverNickelback How you remind meGreen Day Basket CaseOther alternative rock videos with the same editing structure

Analysis of an existing video

The plot line and live shots are edited to a one after the other sequence. This is typical for alternative rock music videos. We then see a left panning zoom-in of the guitarist, this further establishes that this is a band effort rather than a solo artist with a backing track. Notice though this he is portrayed as a subordinate character in this video, not as close as the lead singer distorting the face slightly Identification may prove difficult for the audience as intended.Nirvana - SliverNickelback How you remind meGreen Day Basket CaseOther alternative rock videos with the same editing structure

Analysis of an existing video

Next we clean cut back to a mid shot of the homeless man pushing his trusted trolley around. The song is bordering a drop in depth by adding bass and drums for harmony, but for the moment, its staying the same to emphasise loneliness. The arpeggios in the song portray the lyrics through an alternative source. The pitter patter of individually stricken notes with a lightly distorted reverbing echo afterwards has an overwhelming sense of rain falling down upon us.Nirvana - SliverNickelback How you remind meGreen Day Basket CaseOther alternative rock videos with the same editing structure

Analysis of an existing video

Finally, when the bass guitar and drums fill in, we as an audience are thus introduced to the drummer and bassist in a series of quick shots so that we are made aware of their presence: they are a band. The song now is very bass driven with the riff being carried louder on the bass than any other instrument. The speed change on the shots has crescendoed now to match the progressive tempo of the song.Nirvana - SliverNickelback How you remind meGreen Day Basket CaseOther alternative rock videos with the same editing structure

Further analysis of an existing videoNext I will be doing an analysis of the video Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana which is also in the alternative rock genre. Like the prior video, this too follows the same basic guidelines of structuring an alternative rock video. It raises the question once again, of how is the genre represented through the images portrayed accompanied by the sound track?

Analysis of an existing videoThis opening aerial shot is a unique way of establishing the narrative setting. Clearly the man in the bed is the focal point of the video, and the use of the curtains and empty floor space gives the audience the impression that he is not well in hospital. The music itself is (at this stage) just the arpeggio guitar riff with a light distortion accompanying a gentle minor keyed melody.

Analysis of an existing video

By this point in the video, we appear to enter the subconscious dreaming mind of the man asleep. The bizarre surrealism of the surroundings reflects this idea. The song now has progressed from a simple electric guitar riff to the addition of a soft drum beat, harmonious bass riff and gentle vocals. In some ways, the lyrics are as bizarre and irrelevant as the video itself, reflecting perhaps Cobains drug problem, or the hallucinogenic power of a dream. Analysis of an existing video

The high contrasted lighting used to cut between shots is used to emphasise some kind of divine tranquility. The image concept however of what the audience sees is reflective of religion, a subject often tackled by the alternative rock genre. She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak is the lyric that accompanies this long shot, and what it does is exaggerates the anti-religious message portrayed through visual metaphorAnalysis of an existing videoThis close up is used to portray the emotion the song is trying to message through. Its successfully done, as this accompanies the minor keyed dreariness of the first verse Heart Shaped Box. The lyric Ive been locked inside your heart shaped box for weeks is once again parallel to the emotion expressed on screen. Hes tied to a crucifix, constricted, locked.