Friday, 18 March 2016

Drowning Pool - Bodies Music Video Analysis

I'm teaching music video again at the moment, and I thought I'd throw up (literally) a quick music video analysis to give my students an idea of what I'm after from them. They've got to analyse five different videos in terms of the style, conventions and techniques used. Here's my example for them, but before you read it, please give the video a watch!

Drowning Pool’s music video for their song Bodies is a great example of a video that is in a similar style to many other hard rock / metal music videos. It shares many of the conventions and techniques used in other music videos of songs within the same music genre. The video mixes ‘as-live’ elements of Drowning Pool performing in a few different locations (but without an audience) and elements of a narrative style music video. The main ‘as-live’ performance parts of the video feature the band playing in a large dark warehouse and also in what looks like a very small room in a hospital. This latter location ties in with the narrative of the music video which features a male patient in what can be assumed to be a psychiatric hospital being taunted by the lead singer of Drowning Pool who is singing to him. The video ends with the members of Drowning Pool appearing to help the man leave the hospital, but actually they take him back to his room, where the patient is already sitting. Is he mad? Why are there two of the patient? Is this a dream? As with many music video narratives, it’s quite ambiguous.

The song is clearly about having a very disturbed mind state. The repetition of ‘Nothing wrong with me’ and ‘Something’s got to give’ suggest this is a song about feeling angry, particularly if you feel trapped by society, and unable to express how you really feel and who you really are. The lyrics have been interpreted by the music video creators as being about a man who is literally trapped in an institution and is perhaps struggling to come to terms with his demons or his past. Perhaps the repetition of ‘Let the bodies hit the floor’ is a reference to the past of this patient, when he went on some kind of murderous rampage. In this sense, the video consolidates the song’s meaning because both the song and video seem to be about a disturbed man. There are possible vague allusions to a film like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest which is also set in an asylum, but no clear references. Similarly, there are no direct links to other artists, but the appearance of Drowning Pool in terms of their hair, tattoos, performance style and dress sense reminds of similar bands such as Korn, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit.

In terms of techniques, lip sync is used frequently in the video. It opens with the lead singer whispering ‘let the bodies hit the floor’ into the ear of the patient, combining both performance and narrative in the very first shot. We also see the drummer lip synch some backing vocals and the patient from the narrative lip synch the line ‘nothing wrong with me’ repeatedly. There is also cutting to the beat frequently. From the opening lines of the song, the video cuts between every repetition of ‘Let the bodies hit the floor’. There are many other points in the video where it cuts on the drum beat or the strike of a guitar chord. There are multi-image moments because Drowning Pool often appear to be performing on the TV screen that the patient is watching in the hospital. There is a strobing lighting effect used at some points when the band are performing in the darkened warehouse and a fish-eye lens is used on some shots, particularly when the band are performing in the small hospital room. The strobe makes the editing and performance even more hectic and the fish eye lens emphasises how small and claustrophobic the room is, particularly for a full band to perform in. There are a lot of close-ups, particularly on the lead singer and the patient in the narrative. The video is full of conventional camera movements and angles; tracking around the drummer while playing, low angles of the guitarists, wide shots of the whole band and quick cuts between all of these.  

I think it's a cool, if pretty conventional video, particularly for the editing and use of both performance and narrative elements.