I thought the age of the music video had passed us by. I understand that you can still view videos on the web, but the days of music television are obviously long gone. The ancient classics like “Headbanger’s Ball”, “120 Minutes”, and “Yo! MTV Raps” have since been replaced by “Jersey Shore”, “Teen Mom”, and “The Hills”; each being equally devoid of both music and intelligence. But this isn’t a blog about the cesspool that is MTV and VH1. This is about a new day in the genre of the music video.
Simply putting video footage to music is no longer going to cut it. Just like any other web gem, it now requires that the video have a buzz about it; something that is going to keep viewers coming back for more, until the song has been engrained into your brain.
OK Go wouldn’t be around anymore if it wasn’t for their ingenious video “Here It Goes Again” which utilizes the art of the treadmills. It’s basically a poor man’s Jamiroquoi:
In the past couple weeks two bands have emerged with a new approach to the music video format that may revive the dying art form. Last week Arcade Fire released their interactive video for “We Used to Wait”. In the personalized video powered by Google Chrome, you are prompted to enter the address to your childhood home and then go on to watch as clips of a hooded stranger running to the beat are spliced with swooping Google Earth images of your old stomping grounds (unfortunately, my childhood home is located in an area of the United States that Google Earth seems to ignore, so I was forced to enter other addresses I’ve lived at over the years).
Soon after, a blank canvas appears, and you are asked to use your mouse to write a message to your younger self. As you write, the letters magically transform into a tree like font with branches sprouting for crows to perch upon (I would like to believe these are time traveling messenger pigeons). By the time I first watched/interacted with the video, I’d already heard the song “We Used to Wait” and the album “Suburbs”, but I had never really felt the same bond I had with Arcade Fire’s “Funeral”. But when I entered this video/journey/reflection, I found myself connecting with the lyrics on an entirely new level. By the end of the experience, I gained a better understanding of myself and my past; something I never got from old Radiohead videos, as visually stunning as they may have been. The experience forced me to return to “Suburbs” and give it a much more reflective ear, eventually finding that the album is just as intense and thought-provoking as anything the band had done prior. I don’t know if that connection with the album would have ever happened without the interactive experience.
Try the video out here (if it doesn’t work, you’re probably from Northwest Iowa):
I understand that all bands don’t have the funding or connections to create a Google Chrome Experiment, but Das Racist’s latest interactive video proves it doesn’t take the assistance of Google or the help of Pixar to move into this new form of media. For their song “Who’s That Brooown”, das Racist created a playable Nintendo style video game that references classic NES games ranging from “Frogger”, “Elevator Action”, “Tetris”, “Double Dragon”, and “Skate Or Die”. I’ve never been a fan of Das Racist, but just like the “Super Mario” theme is forever running through my mind, by the level two fight scene in the subway, Das Racist’s fun lil’ diddy was already running on a loop in my head. Not only is the song catchy, but it works as the perfect background to the tongue-in-cheek nostalgic gameplay. In fact, their lyrics of “Larry Bird”, and “Mel Gibson” even add more depth to the retro-experience. Through the game, I found a new appreciation for the band’s 80s nostalgic lyrics and old school beats.
You can try the unbeatable game here:
Or just watch the video that shows all the various Nintendo-inspired scenes:
A simple music video is no longer going to cut it. All the Christopher Walken cameos and bootie shaking will not be enough to draw the attention of our easily distracted masses. What Arcade Fire and Das Racist have done goes beyond creative marketing; this is about connecting with your audience on an entirely new level. I used to love the music videos of Beck, Radiohead, and Bjork because they were either funny, thought-provoking, or mind-boggling, but never did they take the piece of music to a higher level, to take it beyond the television set.