The video for Mutemath's new single "Monument" was released today and it brings up a question that I think needs to be asked, "What makes a music video 'good'?" As of right now, the most viewed music video on YouTube is Psy's "Gangnam Style" with over 2.5 billion views, making it a colossal success from a marketing perspective, but with over one and a half million dislikes (and about a 7:1 like to dislike ratio) clearly not everybody enjoys it. The most 'iconic' videos of all time are considered such for numerous reasons. Whether it's Michael Jackson's short film within a film for "Thriller", A-Ha's revolutionarily rotoscoped animation for "Take On Me", or Soundgarden's face-melting effects on "Black Hole Sun", there are videos that have stood the test of time and remain a part of our cultural subconscious, regardless of whether you grew up in the MTV era or the Vevo/Youtube age.
Personally, my favorite music video is "Hey Jane" by Spiritualized; and since you probably haven't, you should seriously go watch it. I love it for a number of reasons; the controversial narrative, the impressive continuous shot at the end, the way the song directly enhances the viewer's emotions. I find that the biggest thing I struggle with when watching music videos is just caring. Due to their (generally) short duration, it's difficult to become emotionally invested in a character. This is where Mutemath's video for "Monument" excelled.
We meet La La, an elderly man from Mississippi who introduces us to his deceased wife of (just shy of) sixty years, Louise. Instantly, you care about this man, because we have are presented with a relationship that lasted longer than most of the viewers lives. A title card explains that after Louise's passing in 2011, La La transformed their home into a museum dedicated to the 'life and memories' they shared. We are shown a sea of brightly colored umbrellas, flowers, whirligigs and walls with every inch lined with photos. Something is clearly missing as he washes his face in a side-by-side sink, however his expressions are elevating and his smile is contagious.
As the song picks up at the chorus, we see the impressively limber and lively La La begin to dance. The hook, "Let's make a monument for our love" couldn't fit in better. We watch old footage of La La and Louise spending time together, dancing and smiling, knowing that they achieved a level of admiration for one another most couples could only dream of. "There's a memory around the corner, there's an angel on our shoulder to remind us life is far from over" the song continues, "So remember, this is our time" before going back into the chorus. No words could better capture the bitter-sweetness of this man's story, the wistful nostalgia he feels for his deceased wife while simultaneously living the rest of his life to the fullest, dedicating himself to something he loves...her. Take note bands around the world, THAT is how you make a great music video.
And check out the making of video for the track below (which may be sure to break your heart even further).