Music videos range between theatrical productions with intricate plots and shots of bands playing a live set. There isn't a higher success rate with either breed of video. Song quality and success isn't determined by whether or not the band members take a turn at acting. Some of the better music videos have been simple and to the point.
However since the advent of YouTube and ubiquitous technology, videos have played an increasingly larger role in determining a song's exposure. Now music videos take on almost a separate life from their songs. Good songs can have bad videos and vice versa. For example, Gotye's video for "Somebody I Used to Know" got a lot of attention for a video involving a very naked Wally De Backer and a lot of body paint. So here are five videos that stand on their own, each presenting a different take on the various visual capabilities of the modern music video.
1. Miike Snow's "Padding Out"
Swedish pop band Miike Snow
gets a gold metal for their "Paddling Out" video. It fits nicely into the it-has-nothing-to-do-with-the-song category and guarantees to be like nothing you've seen before. The band manages to combine alien children in 16th century garb with plastic surgery, magical dancing shoes and an impending invasion of earth in one video. And the video isn't just a montage of random elements, they actually work in a storyline. In "Paddling Out" a man, who kind of looks like a Swedish Jeff Lebowski, wakes up on a spaceship after polishing off a bottle of banana juice. He is then given a new nose by a bunch of powdered-wig wearing kids, who want to transform him into...a dancing machine? Confused? So was I, but also very entertained.
2. Brandon Flowers's "Only the Young"
Nevada native Brandon Flowers
took a break from The Killers to peruse a solo career, and he took his Vegas roots and flare for the dramatic with him into this new venture. Flowers video for "Only the Young" off of his solo debut Flamingo
is a music video done in true Las Vegas fashion. In the video Flowers stands in the middle of what appears to be a Cirque du Soleil show. Complete with dancers, lights and Flowers in a dangerously well fit suit, the video highlights the showmanship and theatrics that his hometown is known for.
3. Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing"
In a live setting, Coldplay
is known for their elaborate stage set-ups, which include paint-splattered pianos and neon backdrops. As far as music videos go, Coldplay usually goes in one of two directions. One, a video of Chris Martin walking around aimlessly. Two, an imaginative and probably labor-intensive production video that most likely took as long to shoot as it did to write the song. Their "Strawberry Swing" video falls into the second category. The video is a stop motion film made using chalk drawings. The entire video is shot from a birds-eye view, which incorporates the scale of the drawings. It features Chris Martin in a superhero costume, fighting off a giant squirrel and saving a damsel in distress.
4. Gorillaz's "DoYaThing"
are half band, half visual project. The brainchild of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, the groups image centers around animated versions of the band members. By creating this alternative universe, the Gorillaz can easily trump most bands when it comes to animated music videos. Their video for "DoYaThing" follows the characters of Murdoc, Noodle, Stuart "2D" Pot as well as other personae as they go about their regular morning routine. Hewlett's style adds a comically dark feel to the video, evident in scene like when 2D unintentionally adds a severed human ear to his toast. The video also ties back to other Gorillaz videos, with the reappearance of the floating island seen anchored in the end scene.
5. OK Go's "White Knuckles"
is another band known for their wacky music videos. From their first video for "Here It Goes Again" to the more recent "This Too Shall Pass" the band has always presented us with videos that are both complex and minimalistic. Their videos tend to stem from some Rube Goldberg machine that the band has constructed using IKEA furniture and live animals. In "White Knuckles" they chose shelving units, small dogs, upside down trash cans and a goat as their props. The video includes all four band members, but evenly dolls out camera time to everyone. The video shows Tim Nordwind as much as it does the goat. OK Go is one band that puts a lot of time into creating their videos and "White Knuckles" is no exception. It leave us wondering, "Exactly how long did it take them to rehearse all that?"