What are the types of music videos?

20 Nov

There are many types.

Depending on various criterias we can divide types of music videos. Yet some of them use combinations of more types. In my opinion there is no precise division.

Firth is discussing the form and content (1988). Consequently he divided music videos into three broad typologies: performance, narrative, and conceptual. These types describe  selected by the director or artist to attract viewers and to convey a direct or indirect message.

Performance videos, the most common type (Firth 1988) feature the star or group singing in concert to wildly enthusiastic fans. The goal is to convey a sense of the in-concert experience. Gow (1992) suggests “the predominance of performance as a formal system in the popular clips indicates that music video defines itself chiefly by communicating images of artists singing and playing songs” (pp. 48-49). Performance videos, especially those that display the star or group in the studio, remind the viewer that the soundtrack is still important. “Performance oriented visuals cue viewers that, indeed, the recording of the music is the most significant element” (Gow, 1992, p. 45).

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL86F8F0A1A3CCB853&feature=mh_lolz

Narrative videos present a sequence of events. A video may tell any kind of story in linear, cause-effect sequencing. Love stories, however, are the most common narrative mode in music video. The narrative pattern is one of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Action in the story is dominated by males who do things and females who passively react or wait for something to happen (Schwichtenberg, 1992).

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD0950CB49E969357&feature=mh_lolz

Conceptual videos rely on poetic form, primarily metaphor (Firth, 1988). The conceptual video can be metaphysical poetry articulated through visual and verbal elements. “These videos make significant use of the visual element, presenting to the eye as well as the ear, and in doing so, conveying truths inexpressible discursively” (Lorch, 1988, p. 143). Conceptual videos do not tell a story in linear fashion, but rather create a mood, a feeling to be evoked in the experience of viewing (Firth, 1988). Conceptual videos contain the possibility for multiple meanings as the metaphor or metaphoric sequence is interpreted by the viewer. “Thus the metaphorical relations between images structured according to musical and visual rhymes and rhythms play a suggestive role in soliciting multiple meanings from us, the viewers/listeners, that resonate with our experience–something we can feel and describe” (Schwichtenberg, 1992 p. 124).

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL33044A11683B95F6&feature=mh_lolz

I made a division based on elements I perceive as the strongest ones on the music videos. As I was researching, I found out that some elements are very close to other ones so I named the categories with double names. I kept the basic categories: narrative, performance and concept. I added following subcategories:

‘Women/ Sex’ videos sell sexuality. Women are portrayed as a femme fatal. Madonna triggered the big wave with the sensual style of her videos. ‘Justify My Love’ was very shocking at the time. Nowadays pop charts are filled with provocative divas.

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6F3FF1535D9A46B1&feature=mh_lolz

‘Political/ Social’ videos deal with political or social problems, questions of etiquete, discrimination, beliefs, opinions. The aim of these videos is to make the viewer aware of the issue or even to provoke him into further thinking and acting. An Indian artist M.I.A. has recently made a strong commentary about discrimination through her video Born Free.

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE378EC840B15B5DE&feature=mh_lolz

‘Dance/ Choreography’ videos usually accompany rhytmic songs. Michael Jackson has been a king of his style, king of pop. His videos became very popular mainly because of his choreographies.

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9BED7988F769C629&feature=mh_lolz

‘Face/ Body’ videos focus on emotions. It’s the artist who wants to share the feeling with you. Sinnead ‘s video ‘Nothing Compares To You’ is simple and yet very powerful.

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL74CC13F68C47E444&feature=mh_lolz

‘Parody/ Comedy’ videos are fun. There might be a lot of double meaning visual expressions, commentaries etc. Costumes often appear to make the artist ridiculous just as Bloodhound Gang did.

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL57FBAC72D9113DDE&feature=mh_lolz

‘Dreamy/ Surrealistic’ videos are a special sort of concept videos. It’s a mixture of elements which create certain atmosphere/ feel/ mood. Eurythmics has expressed ‘Sweet Dreams’  as  a sequences of real shots with odd visuals. Often special effects are used.

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFD0C68DAF2B42D9A&feature=mh_lolz

‘Stopmotion/Animation’ videos require a lot of preproduction and patience with production. However, this time consuming process gives you original results. A friend of mine once said about the video Strawberry Swings: There is no other band than Coldplay capable of conceptualizing, producing, and realizing a video like that to completion. I agree.

See examples: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA9229B034D5F6290&feature=mh_lolz

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