Since the beginning of MTV in the early-80’s, Music Videos have grown to be a staple in the entertainment industry, as well as all of popular culture. Most musicians won’t even consider themselves a real artist until they have a few videos under their belt. Over the years, we’ve witnessed some of the great filmmakers today cut their teeth displaying the creative freedoms of a music video. From David Fincher to Spike Jonze to Michel Gondry – they’ve crafted some of the most memorable content of their careers in this medium alone.
Let’s fast-forward to 2018. The music video has evolved alongside the industry. As content became more accessible to make, so did music videos. Most would say the music video was, in fact, at the forefront. They’ve evolved from million dollar projects produced for top artists to an artform that is more intimate and experimental. Music videos have developed a special medium for indie artists and those testing ideals outside the conventional narrative world.
In this week’s Top 5 Vimeo Shakedown, I take you through 5 of my favorites music videos of recent memory! I hope you enjoy.
REO CRAGUN // ON MY WAY // DIR CUT
Directed by Brendan Vaughan
Cinematography by Matt Ballard
Brendan Vaughan is a director that shows you don’t need big set pieces and elaborate visuals to create one hell of a music video. “On My Way” by Reo Cragun is a mesmerizing piece that meshes nature with the music style that would fit an urban setting. With it’s classical slow zooms and well-composed frames, I’m fixed to the ever changing landscape from start-to-finish. The video has the feeling of friends making a movie, and that’s not a bad thing. The use of film gives both an experimental vibe, but also something more humanizing like the sharing of memories. It’s a freeing experience to watch this and I’m excited to see more directors turn to a style that doesn’t feel forced.
MOTORAMA – I SEE YOU
Directed by Kinopravda
Cinematography by Alberto Bañares
This music video is a masterclass in telling a story through images. Every single frame is carefully crafted and evolves over the course of the 3 minute run-time. This music video explores something unusually simple. Almost voyeuristic, it displays multiple subjects sleeping, something that often goes unrealized or even remains nonexistent through many mediums. As each subject eventually wakes up, you feel part of the experience. Consequently, too, part of you feels slight embarrassment.
From the beautiful black-and-white look, the zooms, and the great positioning of talent within the frame. You can tell that the director and cinematographer took the time to figure out what would work best for the overall piece. It’s music videos like this that remind you how important composition is. Whether it’s a music video, documentary, short film, etc… composition reins supreme. Watch this piece to understand cinematography, but most importantly, cinematography that expresses the space your subject inhabits.
DEF LOAF | NO FEAR (DIRECTOR’S CUT)
Directed by rubberband.
Cinematography by Sam Cutler-Kreutz
What I love about this music video is how it reminds you that sometimes things don’t need to be taken seriously. The fact that the bed is floating down the road in the middle of the desert is hilarious! My favorite part of this music video comes from a more technical area, and that’s understanding locations and production design. Everything fits into the narrative with purpose and looks fantastic doing so. From the beautiful colors in the bedroom to the contrasting nature of the desert exteriors – I love the chance they took to keep things interesting. It goes to show that location and production design can make or break a piece and should be regarded as important as what lens your shooting on.
RAINBOW KITTEN SURPRISE “FEVER PITCH”
Directed by Jared Hogan
Cinematography by Josh Goleman
Jared Hogan has become a well-known name in the Vimeo and indie scene. With the release of “Fever Pitch” it showcases just why he has risen to that status. This music video is the perfect blend of performance-to-narrative dynamic I have seen in some time. Some music videos can feel too heavy on the performance and it becomes repetitive. This piece was crafted in a way where each shot feels new and each expression feels deserved. It evokes something of a Wim Wenders aesthetic, and the look and composition of the overall piece is stunning. It’s refreshing to see this level of craftsmanship in a music video. It also helps to have a song that caters to the style he was going for!
NAAZ – WORDS
Directed by Folkert Verdoorn
Cinematography by Boas van Milligen Bielke
This music video is a great example of experimenting and coming out successful on the other end. There is a vintage feel that, for me, encompasses the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, with the the context of today. This sound isn’t new, and neither is the feel, and why should it be? It’s like looking into a photograph and letting the memories unleash themselves on your mind. I guess to put what I’m saying into a box, it’s timeless.
I love the use of aspect ratios and the way nothing feels locked in. It makes for a sense of evolution and even helped pull me into the music. The video is a mixing of undercranking, split screen, mirroring, quick movements, mixed aspect ratios, and the list goes on. For the short run time, it’s fun and new. I haven’t seen very many pieces like it and I absolutely want to see more!
I find that music videos are the best reflection of culture, showing where we’re going and where we’d like to be. If you’re a filmmaker and want to find a look for a period piece, one of the first places you should turn to are the music videos of the time. Obviously, we only have a short history of the medium to pull from, but this will only become more prominent in the future. A merging of music and visual storytelling brings an art form that will one day be looked at like the Sistine Chapel of the Renaissance, the plays by Voltaire of the 18th Century, and the vaudeville traveling shows of the Old West (to say the least).
This form has both shock and awe; it’s like capturing a moment of time in a jar, shaking it up real hard, and opening the lid to see what you get. Let us know what you think of our selection! If you have any favorite music videos, share with us below in the comments!