Liner Notes: Judging songs by their video

Anna Taylor

You know that saying “never judge a book by its cover?” The same concept could be applied to judging a song by its music video.

I’ve noticed regardless of what the lyrics of a song are about, the music video doesn’t have to relate to it at all. Music videos are more or less created just for fun anyway.

Earlier this week in the newsroom, some of my fellow editors and I watched Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” video. Having watched the video before, I knew what to expect. Even though I understand the symbolism of the singer being camouflaged by the paint, I still found it to be artistically weird – but in a good way. It made me think the goal for this video must have been to out-weird every other music video out there.

On another note, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video used to frighten me, and I’m probably not alone on this – if you ever watched it as a child, you were probably a little frightened by it, too. Something about the dancing zombies and that evil laugh at the end of the video gave me nightmares.

My oldest sister knew how I felt about the video and she once called me into her bedroom, turned the lights out and played the song – volume high – to purposefully scare me. I remember begging her to turn the lights on and turn the song off (Note: I also used to be afraid of the dark, but who wasn’t when they were young?).

That was an awful thing for someone to do to a younger sibling, but I forgave her.

I’m also happy to say I can watch the complete video and listen to the entire song without feeling scared. It’s just makeup and grape juice after all, right?

There are some music videos that take the acting thing a little too far.

I’m not a Justin Bieber fan but after hearing his new song, “As Long As You Love Me,” I watched the video out of complete curiosity (yes, curiosity). Literally the first 1:30 minutes of the video is him and actor Michael Madsen (“Free Willy”) discussing Madsen’s stage daughter and how Bieber is in love with her. Blah blah.

I guess if the whole music thing stops working, Bieber could always have a career in acting.

The kind of music videos I like are the creative ones. Some of my favorite videos weren’t even made with a big budget.

One music video that is extremely popular and known for its simplicity is Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” It’s just three women in black leotards in front of a solid white backdrop. The video is also filmed in black and white, which adds a lot more to it, I think. Not only is the particular song super catchy but the dance is fun to try out too – not that I’ve tried it.

OK Go is a band known for their music videos, maybe even more than their actual music. It’s literally as though they just make home videos of them doing ridiculous things and then they lip sync to their songs and call it a music video.

Their first big music video, “Here It Goes Again,” is just a video of them doing choreography on treadmills.

They also have a video of them driving a car and striking pianos and homemade instruments as they pass them in an abandoned field.

I’m not sure what the method is for making their videos but it probably has something to do with being as random as possible while keeping a straight face.

Other videos worth viewing that didn’t make it in the paper:

– “My Love” by Justin Timberlake featuring T.I.
I’m a big fan of Justin Timberlake so I have to mention one of his coolest videos. You’ll have “my love, my love, my love” stuck in your head after watching this since it’s not the radio or album edit of the song. The flying objects are a really cool (and 3D?) effect used in this video that makes it unique. This is a black and white video too, before there was ever “Single Ladies.” Also, check out JT’s dance moves. #Swag.

– “Remember The Time” by Michael Jackson
I know I mentioned one of his videos already but really, which of his videos aren’t worth watching? This is my favorite song of Jackson’s and I had to mention it. The Egyptian theme is a little strange since it’s not related to the song lyrics at all but the dance and costumes are super fun. Plus, the video features Eddie Murphy. It’s a win.

– “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert
Since I grew up in a town and family full of country music fans, I don’t listen to it today if I can avoid it. However, I really love this song and music video. I actually feel extremely sad when I listen to this song and watching the video makes it seem like it’s about my life (except for the fact that it doesn’t have me in it and I’m not a country singer). I’m pretty sure Lambert won some awards for this video too. Kudos for getting me emotionally involved.

What music videos stand out to you? Tell me in the comments below or tweet me (@MSUNewsFeatures). I’m all ears.

Column by Anna Taylor, Features Editor.