Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Comparison of two music videos

Radiohead – High & Dry
At the start of the video for High & Dry we get an establishing shot of a restaurant called Dick’s and the actual quality of footage is very poor, this appears to give it the vintage American diner feel which comes across more and more prominent throughout the video. At this point, there is very little to suggest they are following Andrew Goodwin’s framework for music videos. We also see at this point that the video is disjunctive as the lyrics have no reference to the diner feel. Once we see inside the restaurant, the costumes fit in with American diner mise en scene as well, therefore re-enforcing our initial thoughts on the video.


When the lyrics start, we see more reference to Goodwin’s framework. The visuals start responding to music as we see cuts on the beat of the song. The camera pans across the restaurant into a close up of a briefcase, but is handheld at all times. This is possibly to deviate away from perfection to represent the deep, dark theme of the song as the handheld camera gives it the roughed up DIY look, which is something Radiohead are going for here. This is another explanation for the poor video quality. This arguably ties in with Goodwin’s reference to genre characteristics. The indie rock genre isn’t perfect and does try to be different so they could be trying to reference that with this footage which is full of connotations of authenticity. The cuts are also poorly made, they are obviously there to join with the beat but some are noticeably out of sync with the song, which amplifies this imperfection even more so.

Later on in the video we see various close ups, still with a hand held camera of various actors, extras and band members singing the lyrics in a lip sync, a popular convention of music video. We also see some shot reverse shots of two parents looking at each other over a table among other pairs, and over the shoulder shots which both support Goodwin’s theory of the notion of looking, the idea that looking in music videos is key to direction of the artist and the theme of the video. (Take Madonna as an example, the aspect of looking in her videos makes us view her as not only an objectified, sexual woman, but one who is willing to be viewed like that.)


Other than the video cutting on beat with the song and the lip syncing, there is little use of synaesthesia in this video as the theme of the song has no direct link to the video. The video follows its own disjunctive narrative that is not at all related to the lyrics and the video is very minimal. Most shots are long takes which fits with the slow paced song but it doesn’t really go any deeper than that. However that works well because of the style of song that the video is responding to. They’re not a mainstream pop band and this video is able to show that. The persona and showmanship is not shown in this video at all.

If we look at this video and compare it to other music video theorist’s ideas, we can see that actually it is a relatively broad video and doesn’t fit other theories besides Andrew Goodwin’s. It was generally believed for a long time that all music videos fit into two categories, performance or conceptual. Sven E Carlson challenged and said that not all videos fit into these two categories and a more vast range of categories should be considered. This video however goes against Sven E Carlson by being a completely conceptual music video. Supporting the idea that this video goes against many theorist’s ideas, Michael Shore says that all music videos are recycled styles that contain an information overload and reflect teenage male fantasies of girls, which is very much not the case from this video. It is worth considering that this is due to authenticity and deviation from mainstream culture being key in the indie rock genre. They will purposely change their way of doing things to stand out as individual, and it appears that is the case in this video.

Foals – Bad Habits
Just like in the Radiohead video, this starts off with an establishing shot, this time in a desert with one lonesome man (also Foals vocalist) on the floor at the end of a trail of footprints. The establishing shot zooms in as the music begins to play but never gets closer than a very long shot until the next cut. It follows the character as he stumbles around in the sand before cutting to a medium close of his face as he walks and as before in the last video; he is lip syncing the lyrics. It’s at this point where you begin to realise the common characteristics in this indie pop genre. The lip syncing appears to be key and once again the camera is hand held. A third common characteristic is that the shots are long takes. Most of the reference to Goodwin’s framework that we saw in the Radiohead video is also showed in just the first part of this Foals video.


At this point he is lip syncing the lyrics ‘don’t follow me’ and we can assume that he is running away and asking his friends and family not to follow him, which in Goodwin’s framework can be seen as illustrative, but then the shot changes to anther very long shot from behind him and this is the first time we see him following a girl, and we realise that the ‘don’t follow me’ lyric was something that she was saying to him. This can also be seen as illustrative but at the same time, viewed as amplified as well because it’s adding a double meaning to the fact that the male character is singing it.


As shown in the photo above, this references the notion of looking as well. He is looking at her as she walks away and he is following her. This is the first major difference to the Radiohead video in that the notion of looking supports the aforementioned Michael Shore theory that music videos are to support teenage male fantasies. Although at this point she is not viewed as a sexual object, we see her as something he is lusting after. However after a few more repeat close ups of the male character and a close up of the female character, we see a long shot of her and see she is completely naked, totally changing the aspect of the notion of looking in this video. Laura Mulvey argues that females have to watch music videos through the eyes of men due to the male gaze becoming more and more dominant in media even when the target audience is predominantly female. This is shown in this video by the various close ups which establish her as a sexual object followed by the long shots showing her entire body which leaves the male viewer feeling dominant as the figure is now small and in the distance.


It’s at this point in the video where the visuals start to react to the music and as in the Radiohead video, the shots cut to the music. This is another feature of both that I will look into applying to my video when the time comes, then the next few scenes show the ground opening up in front of him as if to say he has walked too far and he can’t go any further. This is an example of video where visuals amplify the meaning provided by the lyrics because at the time of this happening the lyric is ‘would you pray for me?’, and the ground opening up in front of him could be a suggestion of hell below him, especially as he is on his knees as if he is praying.
The idea of hell is later amplified by the male character finding the bones of a dead man in the sand using an aerial shot, and this could also mean a similar story of a previous lover lusting after this girl, to which the outcome is obvious. The close up of the skull and bones shows the emotion and the intensity of the discovery.