Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Music Genres and Music Video Conventions

Different genres of music have different styles of music video. Rock music videos are generally very different to rap videos and dubstep videos, but similar across many sub-genres of rock such as videos for metal songs and punk songs. My students on the BTEC Media course have to write about the style of one genre of music.

Here I will look at a couple of different genres. Firstly rock videos are often very much based around an as-live performance of the band. The videos below of Green Day, Foo Fighters and Slipknot all show this. Often the performance will make up the entire video as in American Idiot where a single location has been used. Similarly in Before I Forget only one location is used. On the other hand in Best of You, there is a few locations used but the video keeps returning to the main location throughout the video. This video also has added insert shots that are quite surreal and quickly cut in to add something to the video apart from performance. It is almost like cutting to a narrative but these images appear almost random but no doubt have some element of lyric interpretation in them.

Rock videos often focus heavily on the sight of the band playing their instruments; the guitars and the drums are often filmed at key moments in the song. The lead singer usually gets more screen time and close ups than the rest of the band, as seen in both the Green Day and Foo Fighters songs. This means there can be a lot of lip synching and the audience can clearly identify the ‘leader’ of the band and see their emotions as they sing the song. The Slipknot video beautifully subverts this by never showing any of the band members’ faces. They are known for their masks at live gigs and in their other videos but in this video they are unmasked but their faces are never shown. This keeps their fans interested and waiting to see the elusive faces of the stars.

Other common techniques are the use of slow motion and quick, hectic cuts and cutting to the beat of the songs. The band are often filmed from a low angle to make them appear important or to give the viewer of the video and audience-eye-view like at a live gig. American Idiot also features the band being filmed within the video and we see them on a screen within a screen. This idea of being watched/filmed is often present in music videos. Rock videos are often dark and the band members dress in a fashion that would appeal to the target audience, often in dark clothing.

Rap videos on the other hand are very different. The examples below show two of the main differences in gangster rap videos. Both work on strict stereotypes of African American males but Candy Shop shows 50 Cent as extremely popular with a wide selection of scantily clad females who are there to dance and look sexy. It also makes him look incredibly wealthy and successful. Amusingly it then undercuts all this by showing it all to be a dream at the end.

Still DRE on the other hand plays up the ‘street’ style, emphasising that the rappers are from the ‘hood’, still popular with the ladies but despite their wealth and success, still rapping about being real gangsters on the streets of LA. There is a focus on cars and girls' bodies throughout. In both these rap videos the artists are dressed appropriately for the genre and they lip sync to camera for much of the video.

There are many other music genres that could be explored and I hope that some of my students will take on more modern music genres such as Grime and Dubstep to discuss if a style has emerged in music videos for these types of music.