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The construction of a music video is hugely variable because visual style is usually dependant on musical style. Since there are multitudes of music forms and styles, there are consequently a range of music video types. Another factor that effects the construction of a music video is the time of which it was made. Videos will usually conform to the conventions of that decade while clearly indicating the technical limitations of that time also. When analysing any media text we should consider the key concepts of media and how they have been applied and moulded to suit the form.
In this instance I will look at how and why two different music videos have employed these key techniques and concepts. Firstly, the music video for ‘The Rembrants” “I’ll be there for you” was made in 1995, and is most significantly known for being the theme tune to the American sitcom ‘Friends. ‘ In this way therefore the music video is intertextual because it combines the medium of television with the music industry.
The music video places far more focus on the six ‘Friends’ characters rather than the artists of the song, and uses the popularity of the sitcom to bring accolade to the song.
In this way we can identify this music video as part of the ‘chart pop’ genre because it has been appropriated to be glamorous. It uses typically attractive people who are noted for their appearance in other publicity materials; in this instance, ‘Friends. ‘ In terms of representation they each supposedly signify figures that all audiences can relate to.
Each character represents a ‘type’ of person while the idea of them being friends, being there for each other, is encouraging and uplifting for the audience.
In relation to mode of address, and how this ‘speak to’ its audience the video relays an intended message of solidarity and companionship, which suggest that the key value promoted here is that of faithfulness to relationships such as friendships. The minimal set of the mise-en-scene diminishes any sense of materialism and gives a more simplistic feel, implying that when all else is stripped away, friendship endures. Additionally though, to some extent there is a consumerist mode of address in this video also as it promotes and almost publicises the sitcom ‘Friends’ and its six famous protagonists.
In contrast to this, George Michael’s ‘Flawless’ video does not use any reputable figures to uphold the song’s message but instead disparately uses typically ‘unattractive’ people as means of implying that versatility and uniqueness is beautiful. The latter video therefore fits this chart video genre/category far more loosely, since it does not present the performer particularly glamorously and has no ‘star’ as such. George Michael is posed merely as an observer and is seemingly quite passive to what goes on in the room, unlike in ‘I’ll be there for you’ where all are actively involved.
The opening sequence of ‘I’ll be there for you’ presents us with the six ‘Friend’s characters and uses the connotations of these characters to uphold the lyrics of the song. The editing places a still of each character on a heavy beat so they are introduced in a rhythmic consecutive fashion. The effect of this is presenting the characters in a dynamic way as equals; individuals that make up a friendship group, which is shown the in shots that follow where all characters are captured together in single shots. To differentiate the band from the actors they’ve edited many of the actor’s shots into black and white.
This looks sophisticated and is a key tool for distinguishing the two sets of people. The video, although uneventful, is entertaining because the ‘Friend’s are playful and they use visual humour to amuse the audience. All of this is congruent to the mise-en-scene as they attempt to interfere with the musicians, and gives a particularly casual, informal feel. The video uses a series of different shots and experiments with cuts, such as wipes and screen splits/slides, which appear quite amateur today, but in 1995 would have been fashionable.
The ‘Flawless’ video one the other hand is one long continuous shot where the camera makes a crab movement on a dolly, or simply pivots. By expelling the use of cuts, crosses and fades the separate characters all overlap even though there is no relation between any of them. The effect of this appears quite abstract and portrays how they live parallel lives – similar because of their differences, yet still “beautiful” and ‘”absolutely flawless”.
The ‘Flawless’ video is again similar to the ‘I’ll be there for you’ video in its simplicity and minimal structure. Neither music video has a strong narrative sense or tells a ‘story. ‘ Instead they both take an arbitrary form, giving a more casual approach to communicating a message. In the Rembrant’s song the message is a propos of relationships, where as in George Michael’s video focuses more on individual identity and integrity. The same approach therefore has communicated two very different messages.
There is however a slightly more structured feel to the ‘Flawless’ video towards the middle when the group begins dancing in unison to a climax of the music. This is effective in dynamically enforcing their unity in being unique, and portrays a celebration of their differences. This choreographed section creates a more staged effect, which is dissimilar to the ‘I’ll be there for you’ video, which in particular employs a more reflective approach since we are often aware not only of the ‘cast/musicians’ but of the technical crew and equipment as well.
The frame of the shot is therefore extended to give a less staged effect. In conclusion these two videos are generically quite similar but communicate different ideologies and employ different technical techniques, mainly due to the time at which they were made. They both suit the pop musical style, and conform to the conventions regarding the media language of music videos. In particular this includes props, stereotypes and the promoted image.
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