Monday, 16 September 2013

MJ: Deconstructing a Music Video

Institution and Audience
  • London Grammar are a band who are very new to the music industry, only making their breakthrough into the music world in early 2013 with their first EP, and due to their niche audience that is slowly building up thanks to Radio 1 DJ and presenter Zane Lowe frequently playing some of their tracks.
  • They have recently released a music video for one of their songs, Strong (Brown, 2013), from their breakthrough album If You Wait.
  • Through the little time the band have been making music they have released two music videos, Strong and Wasting My Young Years (Bison, 2013) which has shown that they are on the side of music videos being art rather than solely for promotion, or even a form of pornography, through their use of pro-filmic devices, such as the use of over 300 pinhole cameras in Wasting My Young Years.
  • However the video for Strong brings London Grammar into the more mainstream path of music videos through its use of storytelling.
  • The video for Strong, however, is not likely to be shown on any mainstream music video channel for many reasons. One is that at the moment London Grammar are still seen as a relatively unknown band, despite some music stars taking time out of their interviews to speak of the band as well as the band bookmakers favourite for winning the Mercury Prize Award before the shortlist had been announced.
  • London Grammar do have their own YouTube channel that features much of their music and their music videos, with Strong already gaining more than 750,000 views in just over a month.
  • The basic narrative of a man setting up a fireworks suit and then seeing footage of the costume in action makes for the video being focused viewing the first time someone views it due to the impact the beauty of the firework suit has, but after this the video becomes ambient viewing without the necessity of watching it to understand the song more.
Genre and Narrative
  • Goodwin (Dancing in the Distraction Factory) talks of synaesthesia, which is where you picture sound in your mind’s eye, and this is very present within London Grammar’s musical style due to the soft beats matched with Hannah Reid’s beautiful vocals, for example at the start of Strong there is a soothing guitar riff that immediately shows that the song is a mellow track and rather heartfelt.
  • Reid’s voice then joins the guitar as she sings “Excuse me for a while, While I’m wide eyed and so damn caught in the middle” which brings to mind someone who is lost whilst trying to speak with someone they care about.
  • This also links with Barthes (Mythologies, 1937) as he talks about “grain of voice” and how in the music world the voice is another expressive instrument, rather than just the words that are heard, this is very significant with London Grammar as Reid’s powerful voice has become the band’s trademark sound and gained them critical acclaim for being so different in the 21st century.
  • Goodwin also wrote about how the singer breaks the fourth wall throughout the video with a first person mode of address, however that is not the case with the video for Strong, as Reid keeps herself distanced from the camera throughout by either looking out into the distance or just to the side of the camera, which fits with one of Dyer’s paradoxes of star image of the band being both present and distant, as we can see them on screen but they never acknowledge the viewer through first person mode of address.
  • The video for Strong also seems to shy away from the conventions that are seen in many of today’s music videos, as more recent videos focus on the notion of looking with a sexist view on women, mostly shown in a voyeuristic way, among other things, and London Grammar stay away from this mainly due to their young yet educated meta-narrative and so do not feel the need to use “sexy” imagery within their videos or anything that causes public outrage that will gain them more publicity, instead they rely off the narrative art and Reid’s grain of voice to be the thing that people come back to for their videos.
  • The video is a rather disjunctive one as the story within the video of a man and his daughter creating a firework suit does not have very much to do with any of the lyrics, however the beauty of the lit firework suit matches the beauty of the track.
  • Strong’s video can be very much seen as art within the realm of music videos because of the action that takes place, as we see a father and his daughter travel to an abandoned underpass with a metal suit with fireworks that are attached to it, which the father puts on in order to entertain his daughter as the audience are led to believe that they are an underprivileged family.
  • The slow motion shots of the fireworks adds to the beauty of the video, making it a lot more arty also.

Media Language
  • Although the video seems rather simple there seems to be an underlying message that is challenging social norms of our constant use of technology, and showing that we should not constantly be so reliant on these things for our entertain, as those who are seen to be less fortunate can find entertainment from the smallest and more basic things, even when they have problems that have them “caught in the middle” of them.
  • The video uses editing techniques to mainly show the fireworks in a more extravagant way, as they are captured in slow motion which makes the fireworks look more amazing as the screen becomes filled with hundreds of glowing explosions.
  • The band are shown to be a trendy group, with the two male band mates wearing modern “indie” style clothing, however the camera only shows Hannah Reid’s head throughout the whole video, showing that she does not need to show her body in order to gain more viewers because they have come only to see a good looking female in a video.
  • This goes to show that London Grammar are an unconventional modern band who do not feel the need to do irrational things within their videos to gain viewers and want to be known more for their musical talent rather than solely on image, which in turn makes them so much more appealing today in a world where people are beginning to turn their heads from musicians who feel the need to show themselves naked on a wrecking ball or claim to have more “swag” than everyone else, and so their meta-narrative is that they are a smart young group of musicians who are trying to reinvent the music industry with their new-yet-classic style.
  • The social group that is represented within the video for Strong is that of an unfortunate family who the audience are led to believe may only be a father and his daughter, as they are the only other people shown in the video except for the band, and they look as if they are an underprivileged family as the car they are shown to be driving in looks rather old and shabby, and the metal suit is rusty.
  • The band are shown simply wandering down a road, likely to be the bridge that looks over the underpass that has the fireworks later on in the video.

1 comment:

  1. this is very good so far Matt, with some competent use or analysis and media terms. To improve this: please ensure you add the headings as given on the sheet. Don't forget to include complex issues of representation and ideology to gain the higher band marks. you also need to include more specific reference to technical codes like camera and editing. Your Goodwin analysis concerning relationship between sound and visuals etc could be more detailed. Well done so far and thanks for chosing such a lovely video for me to mark and for your comments about 'wreaking ball' grrr!