Long gone are the days when MTV would play hour after hour of music videos for every teenager to drink up. While most of the line-ups on MTV, VH1 and even CMT are flooded with reality shows, there are still a few time slots where music videos are actually aired. Despite the fact that many people would argue that a music video is a dated advertising medium for bands, musicians are still churning them out. Here’s a brief round-up of the ones we find especially creative, or at the very least, better than reality television.
“Video Killed the Radio Star”—The Buggles
MTV is typically viewed as the original homestead for music videos. In fact, the first video to premier on MTV was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Although all music videos contain the same basic concept—video plus music—different genres and band arrangements have managed to manifest a huge variety of musical productions. Some videos feature a band playing its music with a story taking place around them, while others are mini-movies with elaborate scenes, special effects, dance parties or even cartoons.
One genre of music video that’s especially entertaining and curious is those that include a lot of large dance numbers. In early years, these kinds of synchronized dance productions were mostly limited to boy bands (New Kids on the Block, N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, etc.), girl groups (TLC, En Vogue, Salt-N-Pepa) or the Janet/Michael Jacksons of the world. The dance trend was confined mostly to pop music. As alternative rock (namely grunge) became widely popular throughout the ‘90s, music videos became a lot more conceptual, abstract and less focused on dancing. Viewers would be hard-pressed to see Green Day, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails or Nirvana do much more than mosh in their videos.
Many of today’s music videos, however, have far exceeded what musicians from past decades had created. Some of these “mini movies” even entail production credits at their opening. What has come full circle, however, are videos with large dance productions. Only this time, the dance bits are not necessarily restricted to just boy bands. In July, South Korean rapper Psy released the single “Gangnam Style.” The video not only features his signature “horse riding” dance moves, but also several montages of dance scenes. You might not be able to understand a single word in the video, but the entertainment value is beyond belief.
Indie rock band Walk the Moon has also incorporated a party/dance theme in its video for “Anna Sun.” The clip is a good example of how music videos and dance parties are not just for pop music. It also paints indie rock in a good color; just because a group is deemed “indie” doesn’t mean it can’t be outside the stigma that it’s artsy, different or deep.
While there might not be a great demand for more “Thriller” or “Macarena” videos, it doesn’t hurt to have a few silly dance clips that portray the light-heartedness and humor of the band behind the music. For the 14 of us who are still watching music videos, those dorky dance arrangements keep things funny.