Did streaming kill the video star? – By @Mr_Shankly

By Alex Morris


Did streaming kill the video star?


Rob’s masterclass this week has reignited a passion in me which had long been dulled by the banality of what passes in 2019 (don’t @ me Alfie) for audio visual entertainment, the like of which insults our senses on a daily basis.


The humble music video.


His genre-defying, decade-spanning showcase reminded me that, when done right, there can be no finer distillation of a song’s purpose and worth than its accompanying video. But equally, that sometimes they’re just insanely pleasing forms of art with the power to turn an average song into the stickiest of creations.


So with his examples (and a few of my own bangers) here’re the Top 3 Lessons which charted in my mind this week: 


  1. Make sure the video works alone.

In making our own VMA-worthy entries this week, we were pretty smug with our progress. 


Until Rob laid down a challenge. 


Does the video work without the song? 


The answer was, while stylistically it tied in with our subject matter (I’m being cryptic here so as not to ruin Friday’s premiere), the answer was, well, no. 


Whether it’s Childish Gambino’s take on the state of modern day America or Justice’s unbroadcastable violence in Stress, the video has the power to elevate a song to political and social commentary.


Or in Lionel’s case, just paint a picture of a tutor abusing a position of power to repeatedly berate a blind student with the proposition that it is, indeed, him she is looking for.


  1. Make it don’t fake it.

While for bigger artists, a conversation-sparking music video is vital to the success of any modern pop song, for alternative artists, a strongly-directed and fully-conceptualised piece of visual art can establish real credibility to connect with listeners and viewers. 


To achieve this, the most successful examples have achieved their looks using real-world techniques (see the Stranglers inversion of colour and Radiohead’s near waterboarding of Thom Yorke). Even where M|A|R|R|S – Pump Up The Volume uses archived footage, it’s put together which such care and craft, working with the type and animation style, to make it the complete package.


Of course if you make it (The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony) other people will do you the flattery of faking it (Fat Les, Vindaloo).



The umbilical relationship between music videos and wider culture is a long and fruitful one – from Dylan’s Cardboard Signs (anyone else reminded of the creepy guy in Love Actually??) to viral sensation dance trends like The Dougie and fashion trends like Pharrel’s hat


Plus, loads of amazing directors have cut their teeth in music videos before going on to make films — see Spike Jonze & Michel Gondry.


  1. The Medium is The Message

Music videos have come a long way from Nelly trying to message on an Excel spreadsheet in Dilemma.


Marshmello’s concert in Fortnite used the platform to attracts ‘millions of attendees’. And TikTok launched rapper Lil Nas to THE MOST WEEKS AT NUMBER ONE. EVER.


Our job as communicators is to be at the forefront of technical innovation.


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