The Death of Music Videos

When MTV decided to eliminate the “Music Television” portion of their iconic logo and corporate mantra a few weeks ago, it signified that they finally acknowledged what many people snidely joked for years regarding the channel’s programming. With the music industry in a years-long spiral and music networks like MTV and VH1 devoting less time to the music industry selling staple, it made me wonder about their relevance in pop culture. For example, how will people know that Chad Kroeger of Nickelback still has that weird perm-and-beard combo?

Not being the young scamp that can devote hours on end to watching TV or whatever the kids do these days when they’re not experimenting with the weed and the sex, I rarely get to see what passes for music videos anymore. And the ones I do see fall into five categories:

  • A clumsy mixture of a band playing interspersed with a heavy-handed narrative barely connected to the song lyrics. (50% of music videos)
  • BLING! BOOBS! BOOZE! BUTTS! REPEAT! (48% of music videos)
  • Live footage of a band playing, being a self-congratulatory ode to the band’s fame in disguise as a thank you to the fans (1.2% of videos)
  • Musicians trying to be deep by having “normal people” holding up signs that point out who and what they are. (“Firefighter,” “Human Being”) (0.7%)
  • Artistic expressions of music and visual talent. (0.1%)*

*Note = my math skills are equal to my exaggeration skills

So that last category is sorely lacking nowadays, as the focus on making iconic videos is all but gone. The last video to truly wow me was “Bad Romance” by Lady GaGa, a visual spectacle of glitz and lunacy that delighted my senses. And just when I was feeling hopeful that the music video could become an art form (like black-and-white photography and food canning) due to low expectations, I saw a video that has me writing off the music video medium permanently:

I guess this person goes by the name Orianthi, a mindfuck of a name for a mindfuck of a video.

On first glance, there is something off about the video for “According to You”. Perhaps that “something” is the guitar in the foreground. This distracting object follows the video’s shrill, emo protagonist throughout, going from her bedroom to a concert where said shrill, emo person is singing. The word creepy is not bandied about enough anymore, and it definitely needs to be used to describe a stalker armed with a guitar that plays music at another person’s concert — let alone everywhere that this young woman turns up. (That’s like starting a game of flag football during the Super Bowl.)

Seriously, the minds behind the video should be locked in a room and studied for clues as to how this was a good idea. Maybe the guitar is a metaphor for something randy? Perhaps they’ve been using Chatroulette too much? And it’s distracting, to the point that it gets in the way of the other bland notes in the video. And when it disappears for a few seconds, it’s a relief and an oddity — like, did the guitar stalker decide to go take a piss? Is he or she tuning their creep-tar? Are they physically assaulting suitors for Orianthi’s affection?

Orianthi and Michael Jackson: guess which artist made better music videos?

Enough about the damn guitar; the song itself is just as bad. Reading like a sophomore’s blog, the viewpoint of a girl that tells off her verbally abusive partner/boyfriend/age-inappropriate-gentleman-caller has been done to death and done better. Lyrics like “According to you/I suck at telling jokes cause I always give it away/I’m the girl with the worst attention span/you’re the boy who puts up with it/According to you” make me giggle like a 10-year-old hearing a dirty joke. I’m not in the song’s demographics, but I don’t care.

Taking me out of the hilarity were lazy pop-rock hooks and wailing solos that were like a homeless person at an Academy Awards party: out of their element and sticking out like a stinky thumb. Calling further attention to the idiocy was the focus on the girl playing the stinky hooks with her gee-tar — with stalker guitar in the foreground. Whee!

You might be asking, “Why am I hurling such vitriol at a tween-targeted music video?” Besides digging under my skin, it  stuck out as an example and result of the dying art form. While most elements were ripped from elementary music video creation, the examples of trying to be inventive (stalker guitar) stuck out for the wrong reasons. And the song being bad made my ears sad. As music videos are about selling the artist’s music, it made me want to tell people not to buy Orianthi’s work.

But is anyone paying attention to videos anymore? Are television networks right to wind down their focus on the format that launched music careers and became a medium in themselves? If stuff like Orianthi is any indication, the execs and viewers have already checked out.

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