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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Music videos are alive and well, thanks to the Internet

The music video isn’t dead, although everyone seems to think it is.

MTV, however, is deader than dead. This can lead to some confusion about the status of the medium, but the short clips of content the channel used to feature are currently alive and well on the Internet.

The common refrain is: Sure, there are music videos on the Internet, but they have no substance. Anyone can shoot a music video these days.

That’s incorrect.

Spike Jonze still directs great work, though now it’s for Kanye West rather than the Beastie Boys. Paul Thomas Anderson made a video with Joanna Newsom last year and even Gaspar Noé has been known to direct a quality music video from time to time.

To be fair, there’s no Madonna equivalent these days. There is no huge artist working with one great director after another to churn out absolute works of art. But will there ever be again? Madonna was always a bit of a comet, burning brightly, if only for a short time.

In place of her videography, however, the modern music video scene features a multitude of exciting visual artists whose work far transcends what many music video directors would’ve been capable of in the 1980s and ’90s.

Directors such as Emily Kai Bock, Hiro Murai and Eric Wareheim create content that pushes what is possible both stylistically and thematically within the genre. Even Trish Sie put OK Go in microgravity. Clearly, we’ve arrived at the future of the music video.

Why all the doubt then? Well, music videos on TV these days don’t gets the kind of views they would have back in the day on MTV. That’s because of the nature of the platform. At peak times, MTV offered a handful of music videos an hour with plenty of commercials in between. The Internet offers millions of videos that are available any time, any place.

It’s also possible that there are harmful effects from the trending features on both Facebook and Twitter. While they will occasionally feature a stunning new music video, they’re more likely to showcase the newest Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus disaster everyone’s talking about.

With awful videos becoming the poster-children for the music video medium on social media, it’s no wonder more and more jaded fans (read: fans with taste) are prone to throwing up their hands and pining for the days of Michael Jackson and Madonna.

These are the fans who cry: Where is that finely crafted, large-scale choreography I used to love? The subtle references to classic cinema and television? The trippy use of special effects?

It’s on Vimeo. Trust me, good content is out there for those who want it.

Admittedly, what isn’t on Vimeo is that giddy feeling you used to get after coming home from school and tuning in to see the latest and greatest music videos.

We’ve traded in the excitement of live television for the convenience of video streaming and it’s a deal that doesn’t always feel right. 

Follow Greg Castro on Twitter.

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