Tuesday, 16 August 2011

"The Streets - The Escapist" Deconstruction

Artist: The Streets
Song Title: The Escapist
Year: 2008
Genre: Rap/Garage
Primary Audience: 15-24

This is a concept video that features the same type of shot repeated throughout the whole video, but in different locations (excluding the first 9 second sky shot), a simple idea, but it seems to work very well and creates a video unlike most standard music videos being produced nowadays. The shots are always still long shots facing the vocalist Mike Skinner's back and nearly every shot is him walking away from the camera in different scenery, as he walks the 770 miles from Dover to a beach in France (a feat he actually undertook), so although most of the video was shot in France, it start out in Dover, as shown in the first few shots by the signs showing ferry departures and a map of the south of England (0:16). Skinner is then show actually on the ferry, heading for France, he then proceeds through villages, along roadsides and over hills before eventually relaxing on a beach, where he is joined by another man and Skinner turns and heads back past the camera (which had been placed on the sand) and the shot of the sea is left to fade to black as the video ends. Interestingly the only time in the video that the shot doesn't involver Skinner is at 2:15, where there is a shot of the moon which fades to black before the video rejoins Skinner with an extreme long shot of him on a hillside.

Last shot

A description of the video by Mike Skinner: "During a great period of intense mixing we decided that it might be nice to shoot a video. This isn't the way the record industry works and so it was under the radar of the label and done totally for us by us on a shoe string. It was totally different from any other promo that I've made in that it was something real that we just filmed rather than trying to create something real looking using lots of people and lots of angles. I feel like it's more than a video in that sense. Aswell as looking quite odd without all the singing and quick cuts"

Monday, 15 August 2011

"Nightwish - Bye Bye Beautiful" Denotation

Artist: Nightwish
Song Title: Bye Bye Beautiful
Year: 2008
Director: Antii Jokinen
Genre: Metal
Primary Audience: 15-34

Actual band
Models in place of male members
This music video is solely performance, with only one location being used, however there are two seperate performance scenarios, one with models acting as the band (apart from the vocalist who appears in both scenarios), and one with the actual band performing. Laura Mulvey's theory of the male gaze comes into play here, as the models replacing the male band members are young attractive women wearing revealing clothing, this is obviously a key aspect of the video, as on the youtube embedded video at the bottom of this post the top rated comment sums up the video as "Hot Girls in HD!" The metal genre of the band is conveyed from the very start of the video through aspects of mise-en-scene such as the big drum kit and the band member's dark clothing. Something that appears glaringly obvious throughout the video is the bright light coming from the back of the performance room, which leaves the whole set in an orange tint. The song title and lyrics in "Bye Bye Beautiful" refers to the band's old fired vocalist, and she is being represented through the models in the video.

Multiple video layers
The whole intro and first verse of the video has the models (and vocalist) on the instruments, and the scene only changes to the actual band performing at the first chorus, when just before (at 0:58 - 1:01) there is quick cross-cutting back and forth from one shot of the actual drummer and one of the model who is on the drums, before cutting back to a long shot showing the actual band performing at 1:02. During the chorus there is frequent use of multiple video layers being used to quickly flash extra images of the band members, such as at 1:06. This is something that we can use ourselves when editing our own coursework music video, as multiple video layers is a feature of final cut, the software that we are going to be editing with. During the bridge section of the video (2:55) there are frequent slow motions close up/medium close up shot of the individual band members/models.

"Paramore - Emergency" Denotation

Close up of vocalist
Artist: Paramore
Song Title: Emergency
Year: 2006
Director: Shane Drake
Genre: Emo Rock
Primary Audience: 15-24

This music video is performance based, but also features some staged behind the scenes footage of the band getting ready in their bloody costumes with various cuts, bruises and bandages being applied on the band members (1:50) such as the guitarist's knuckles and the vocalist's forehead, as well as showing the director, Shane Drake, telling the band members what they should be doing during the performance. The video features heavy use of dark and dull colours, as well as stained walls with peeling wallpaper and empty picture frames (0:36), this use of colour in both the performance and indoor scenes links to the music genre that the band were at that time (emo rock), as do other aspects of mise-en-scene such as their clothing (scruffy and dirty). The indoor scene of the video features the band members all sitting around looking rather miserable and ignoring each other as they wait for the director to take them to the performance area, this relates to the meaning of the song, as it is about divorce and not talking through problems. The fact that each of the band members is wearing a rose on their clothes adds a sense of irony to the video, in relation to the meaning of the song.

Close up of guitar during solo
As each band member is first introduced in the indoor scene, the video then cuts to a shot of that member in the outdoor performance scene, this first starts with the bassist from 0:11 to 0:14. This helps people who perhaps aren't familiar with the band to know what's going on and what each person in the band does, this idea is reinforced by the fact that the only band member who doesn't have one of these indoor to performance cut openings is the vocalist, as it is clear that she is the vocalist as she is singing in the indoor scene at the start of the video. A frequent type of shot used in the video is an extreme close-up of the vocalist's eyes, which also happens to be the very first shot of the video at 0:03, this is used many more times throughout the video such as at 0:26 and it is used to display the her emotion, which relates to the music genre. During the guitar solo at 2:48 there are many low angle close ups/medium close ups of both guitarists separately, this adds more focus on the guitar, as it means the guitarist is the only one in the shot. At 3:18 there is a slow close up on the vocalist's face, this ties in with the music well, as it is just before the music kicks back in for the last chorus of the song. An interesting editing point occurs at the very end of the video at 3:47, where the shot changes on every chord strike, this adds emphasis to the music at the end of the track.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

"Avenged Sevenfold - Beast And The Harlot" Denotation

Artist: Avenged Sevenfold
Song Title: Beast And The Harlot
Year: 2006
Director: Tony Petrossian
Genre: Metal
Primary Audience: Male 15-24

Official music video - link to youtube as it can't be embedded

Duel solo shot
The idea behind this video is the band members takings sinner's souls, and each band member has his own vignette (similar to the afterlife video). M. Shadows (vocalist) is in a limo, waiting for a prostitute, Synyster Gates (Lead guitarist) is watching strippers in the club, Zacky Vengeance (rhythm guitar) is a "businessman", Johnny Christ (Bass) is with a young boy at a peep show and The Rev (Drums) is a bartender. There is one full band performance scene in the video which is in the nightclub and features all the band members wearing heavy, goth style make-up, this is to fit in with the dark vibe, as it is something that they don't do in any other video. The large use of black throughout the video signifies the metal genre, as well as aspects of mise-en-scene like the rhythm guitarist's blood splattered guitar finish and the sleeveless tops that the band members often wear. Laura Mulvey's "male gaze" theory is very relevant here, as there are women with very little clothing on in nearly every shot of the video, and as the drummer jokingly put it "There are some half naked girls in there, which seems to be the script to every one of our freakin' videos!".

Shot from Shakira - Sale El Sol
Similar shot from BATH
The video very much fits in with the lyrics of the song; "Her plagues will come all at once" relates to the shots of the "sinner's" being taken over by the black substance. "And makes us drink the poisoned wine" relates to the shot of the guy drinking the shot in the bar. There are lots of medium close up shots of the lead guitarist during the solo (and both guitarists during the dueling part), this is because the solo is obviously the most important aspect of that part of the track. There are only a few shots during the entire video where the camera isn't moving, as in most there is some sort of pan or track, an example of this is at 2:39 as the camera pans down from the guitarist's face to his guitar, this gives the idea that the shots are actually from someone's POV. At 2:33 the camera is actually drawn in to the diegetic world, as the vocalist appears to either be holding the camera or grabbing the cameraman, this again gives the impression that it is a person's POV. A point where the music fits in directly with a cut is at 2:57, with a woman ripping open her top just as the music changes to the bridge section (this is similar the the Shakira video that I previously deconstructed). An interesting fact is that the "deathbat" seen at 3:58 is the bands logo, and appears at some point in nearly every one of their videos.

Band logo in BATH
Band logo in "Bat Country"

Making of video - part 1:

Thursday, 4 August 2011

"Shakira - Sale El Sol" Deconstruction

Performance scene at start of video

Performance scene at end of video
The theme of this music video is very similar (despite the big genre difference) to the Avenged Sevenfold - Afterlife video that I have previously deconstructed, in the form of the contrast of dark and light, as the first half of the music video features dark clothing and dark lighting, whereas towards the end it gets lighter and lighter. This contrast theme is continued by the fact that it's snowing at start of video and is sunny at the end, which relates to the Spanish lyrics of the song and the actual song title: "Sale el sol - The Sun Comes Out" Although this song is written in Spanish, the fact that it's on Shakira's bilingual album of the same name (Sale El Sol) means that this video is also aimed at an English audience, which could explain why there is no narrative dialogue. An interesting point is that on may occasions when Shakira releases a single there are often two music videos released, one with the Spanish version of the song and one with the English version; see Gitana and Gypsy. This helps the music video to reach a wider audience.

Close up of acoustic guitar
On two occasions in a short period of time there is a close up of the acoustic guitar (1:08 and 1:16), this is because it is the only instrument (besides a slight electric guitar) playing, focusing on the main instrument in a particular section of a track, such as a guitar, drum or bass solo is a common convention of music videos. During the bridge of video there is a lot of fast cross cutting (2:49), this is because of the slightly more aggressive sound to the music in the bridge section. There is also big lighting change after the bridge at 3:01 and to fit in with this Shakira literally tears out of her dark clothing. There isn't much narrative involved in the video, the only separate scenario from the performance is Shakira running through a maze of hallways in a gold dress, this relates to the performance as it is clearly in the same setting, as you can see towards the end of the video that the walls are the same in both scenarios, as well as the fact that the lighting (the sun coming up) changes in both at the same time. Having the main focus of the performance side to be the vocalist is a very common convention in music videos of all genres, but especially pop videos, and this is displayed here through the frequent use of close up/ medium close up shots of Shakira throughout the video.

Heavy use of bright colours

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

"Evanescence - Everybody's Fool" Denotation

The music video kicks off with a mock tv advert, featuring the singer as the promoting the product "Lies Pizza" which sets up the theme of lying, which is a main concept in the video, as at (1:19) another mock ad is shown, again with the vocalist being the person doing the advertising. There is a huge contrast from the first scene of the video to the second, as in the second scene the vocalist is shown walking down a corridor with her hood up and hands in her pockets, the colour in this scene is of huge contrast to the start of the video, as the first scene contains heavy use of bright blue and yellow colours, whereas in the corridor dark green, grey and black are the main colours, with no real distinction between them, these colours are used throughout the video, which relates to the music genre of Dark/Gothic Rock. The dreariness of the shot is also reinforces by the slow motion walking.

Dark colours
One common reocurrance in this video is the close-up shots of the singer, which is a common convention of music videos, but in "Everybody's Fool" it is used to help display the singer's emotion. An interesting point in the video is the cross cutting at 1:39, where the video quickly cuts back and forth between the singer drinking a can of "lies", and her in a bathroom drinking some sort of medicine. Even more mock advertisement appears in the video at 1:52, with some stereotypical Japanese TV advertising. Throughout the video the vocalist is seen doing various erratic acts such as cutting off her hair, scribbling on her own advertising pictures in magazines and keeping her head underwater in the bath, but there is one main controversial point in the video, which is at  2:39 when she smashes the mirror and cuts open her hand. This is controversial and risky because of the blood being shown which opens the video up to being banned or cut down on certain TV channels and websites. The negative messaging of the video is shown in its fullest at 2:48 to 2:55, as the video cuts back and forth between the mock adverts show previously in the video, with one key word being show in each shot "Crazy" "Ugly" and "Worthless".

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

"Plan B - The Recluse" Denotation

Performance scene
This is a good example of a video which is heavily narrative based. The album that this song is from (The Defamation Of Strickland Banks) is a concept album telling the story of a fictional character called Strickland Banks that the singer Ben Drew portrays in all the music videos for the album (watch Prayin', Stay Too Long and She Said). This means that the narrative of each video, such as The Recluse, is completely related to the lyrics, and with the other videos. The Recluse actually features clips from Prayin' such as at 0:32. There is even more intertextuality with Plan B's other work, with a 30 second snippet of the song "The Ballad Of Belmarsh" being played at the start of the video. An interesting feature on the official Plan B youtube page is a playlist linking all the videos in order, telling the story of the album: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Po_ArckLTXg&feature=list_related&playnext=1&list=SPA9277FD1F179A601

House shot

The video shows Strickland Banks (Ben Drew) in a variety of different scenarios, such as; in prison, on stage, and at home. There is only one full band performance scene in the video, which appears to be in the characters living room, which had all the curtains closed, which relates to the lyrics and song title, as it conveys that the character doesn't want to be bothered by the outside world. As if the curtains are a protective shield "I don't go outside for nothing, no-one can make me leave this room". A reoccurring aspect of mise-en-scene in this video is dark rooms, with bits of light being let in, such as at 0:52 with the shade being  slightly open, this conveys an invasion of the characters personal space. During the entire video there is cross-cutting from scenes from around his house and scenes from him in prison, this contrast gives a clue into the mind of Strickland Banks, as if he is confused about his current state and having flashbacks of his time in prison. An interesting point in the video where the lyrics directly relate to action in the video is at 1:27, where the female character (Vicky McClure) is clearly trying to tell Ben Drew something with the lyrics over the top "Oh no they can't tell me nothing". Another example of this is when the lyric is "Stops me from getting kicked in, even if it earns me this nickname in prison" (3:17) is immediately followed by a scene where the character gets beaten up in what is clearly a prison cell. A great shot in the video is at 1:33- 1:40, when the character opens the mirrored cupboard he is in prison, then when it is closed he is in his home, using the open cupboard to transition between the two scenes.
Prison shot

The characters aggression is shown on many occasions during the course of the video, such as at 1:08 where he is shouting at the helicopter surveying his house, and at the TV screens at 1:16. These actions relate to the aggressive nature of the song. Another interesting event in the video is timing that the character draws a gun on the people by his pool is at the same time that he is rapping in the song (2:37- 3:22), this links to the stereotype of gun violence in relation to rap music, he also fires a crossbow dart at an image of himself during this time.