What makes a great music video? Visuals certainly play a huge part in making a video aesthetically pleasing on the eye, as does production design and of course we can’t forget the performers in the video be it the band or actors, but there is something else that is more important than any of these. Concept.
Yep that’s right, concept. It’s what makes a video stand out, it’s the hook that keeps the audience’s piercing gaze locked onto your video, keeping them on tenterhooks right to the last frame. It’s the same with cinema; a great idea or narrative will keep you on the edge of your seat even if the shaky camerawork is making you want to spew your popcorn over the large headed cinemagoer in front of you (VHS anybody?). It’s why I’m genuinely excited to see Looper tonight and why my heart sinks everytime I hear there’s another remake. The concept for Robocop was perfect back in ’87. Perfect doesn’t need a remake.
So a couple of my favourites as examples…
The Heinrich Maneuver by Interpol has us locked onto a beautiful woman’s eye as she finishes her makeup and casually steps out in front of a bus. So simple. Great idea, but how do you carry this concept over an entire song? And therein lies the beautiful execution of the concept. We as an audience are treated to three and a half minutes of tortured expressions and horrified reactions from the surrounding public as they watch this beautiful woman step off the curb to meet her maker. Playing out in beautifully slow slo-mo with the camera starting on an extreme close up of the womans eye in her makeup mirror, we track back as the song plays to reveal each moment horror from each character in the scene. A break in the music, birds flock across the frame and suddenly the reactions change, the fear is gone and we see the people surrounding her retracing their steps as they are pulled back in time away from the impending climactic destruction. Boom. What a video.
Another great concept is Sick, sick, sick by Queens of the Stone Age where we see the band desperately trying to play their way out of being the next meal for their beautiful yet ravenous captor. As each band member is dragged from the questionable safety of the band they then appear to play within a burning hot furnace until the beautiful lady is overwhelmed with an insatiable hunger for Joshua and the band are reunited in the red hot oven. Simple, beautiful and mesmerising.
Admittedly the execution of Sick, sick, sick does look great with exquisite set design and lighting, liberally peppered with shots that feel inspired by the opening titles of Dexter. But hey, that doesn’t make it any less of a cool concept.
Anyone for Monkey Tennis?