Watching Music

I love music.

I don't mean, "I like to listen to music," I mean I love the artistry of it. I like that there's heart in it that makes you feel and takes you to a different place.

So I'm a photographer, which means I'm all about the image, right? I don't know about you, but when I listen to music, I'm visually transported to a different place. In fact, if you look at the names of my playlists, you can see that I even categorize my music based on the visuals it inspires. (Slow, acoustic music is in a playlist called "the old man is snoring" because it makes me feel like I'm sitting in a cozy window-seat while it's raining. Synthesized, electric music is in a playlist called "fvtvre søvndz" because it makes me feel like I'm living on an alien planet in the year 2053 where the letter u looks like a v. You get the idea.)

I used to not like music videos because I thought it ruined the song. Most of the videos that seem to get attention seem to be sexualized product-placements or a series of popular cameos acting out the song. It seems to suck the humanity and imagination out of it.

I think that music videos should honor the heart behind the music–that the visuals should add to the music, not be a literal visual translation of it. The scenes should be used to enhance the story that the music tells.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold • The Lone Bellow

I'm a HUGE fan of videographer Ryan Booth's work; and I think he knocks it out of the park in this video for The Lone Bellow. I think this video does an excellent job of using live-footage of the artist's performances to highlight the young, wild, adventurous spirit that the song already carries with it. I mean, just watch this video and tell me you don't want to take a roadtrip with your friends.

[vimeo 88203788 w=1280 h=720]

 

Livewire • Oh Wonder

This next video is by my new favorite band, Oh Wonder (they just released their first full-length album and it's seriously beautiful). My friend shared this video of theirs with me once she heard that I was listening to their stuff. Not only is this video a visual work of art, but I love that it sets a distinct tone for the song. When I had listened to this song before seeing this video, it had a lighter spirit about it. But through the use of natural lighting, monochrome color schemes, and slowed movements of the video, the song takes on a much more moody-vibe. Suddenly, the hopefulness of the chorus falls behind the shadow of the somberness of the verses.

[vimeo 127722549 w=1280 h=720]

 

I Forget Where We Were • Ben Howard

In my opinion, this is the most visually beautiful and unique music video I've seen. The visuals don't rob the music of any attention but plays off of it in a very unique way. Shot in a square format, symmetry plays a big role in this video. The breaks in symmetry perfectly reflect (ironic pun intended) the lyrical ache Ben sings about while the visual balances pay homage to the harmonious summer that he remembers. What I also love about this piece is the powerful use of subtlety. The slow-pull of the focus directs the eye exactly where the producer wants drawing your eye to a crumbling building that I otherwise might have missed. And although the scenes themselves are pretty static, the subtle movements of the ocean's waves, the human breaths, and flipping book pages engage me enough that I never want to look away.

[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpeK3zvmx2c&w=854&h=480]

 

Earnestly Yours • Keaton Henson

This is possibly my favorite music video of all time. It's by a composer named Keaton Henson. He writes really sad stuff and is emotionally 50 shades of f*cked up. But he pours his soul into his work and his art becomes so moving. Usually I'm not a fan of music without words. But in this video, Keaton takes his composition and gives a new life to it. The visuals are a raw, vulnerable image of a panic attack and a physical manifestation of his suffering. Suddenly, these sounds become an internal soundtrack to his episode. I don't know if it's just because I've had my own share of anxious-depressive episodes, but I this video makes me feel his music in a new, more visceral and engaging way.

[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvr7T4sfads&w=854&h=480]

 

It's not easy. I think it stretches an artist to cross media like this. Suddenly, color is just as important as the tempo, and movement holds just as much weight as the instruments the musician choose. But when it all comes together just right, the audience can feel it. 


What are some of your favorite music videos? I love seeing new stuff so be sure to let me know in the comments!

Here are some more music videos that I like:

Sober • Childish Gambino

Blue Neighbourhood (Series) • Troye Sivan

Diamonds • JOHNNYSWIM