We can thank the internet for reviving the video star and keeping music videos as relevant as ever, even though they have lost the TV screen-time that birthed them in the first place. Today, because they are far more likely to be viewed, passed on, and talked about online than anywhere else, music videos have managed to both evolve beyond what they once were and maintain their relevance in entertainment and youth culture. Robin Thicke’s recent uncensored “Blurred Lines” video was both a YouTube ban controversy and the vehicle for a rising modeling star. Today, a music video can be a declaration of an artist’s point of view, a star vehicle, an inside joke, and much more. Here are three of the most talked about music videos of the moment:
Chart-topping English folk band Mumford & Sons is known for their beards, their banjos, and their mastering of twee indie style—but today they’re being lauded for their sense of humor. In a perfectly self-aware and self-effacing move, the quartet stayed behind-the-scenes for the music video of the single “Hopeless Wanderer,” instead casting comedians Ed Helms, Will Forte, Jason Bateman, and Jason Sudeikis to play over-the-top versions of themselves. No doubt in a humorous nod and wink to the many Mumford haters who think the band’s fist-clenching earnest act is too much, the video parodies all things Mumford—from intense in-each-others’-faces singing to sun-dappled fields and prominently-featured rustic barns. The move has even critics laughing with them, not at them, and proves that self-awareness can get you far if done in the right way.
In the last month, Jay Z has gotten rid of his hyphen, gotten his sports agency off the ground, and apparently merged the performance art and rap worlds. The latter resulted in this “performance art film”—which is not what anyone would expect from a hip-hop music video and signifies just how much the rap world has changed in the last decade. In July, Jay Z collaborated with performance artist Marina Abromovic for an “exhibit” at Pace Gallery in which he performed his “Picasso Baby” single for six straight hours in the museum. The music video gives a glimpse of the day, showing Jay Z giving intimate “solo” performances to various audience members; interacting and dancing with both stars and fans in a truly one-on-one level for some very endearing moments. The whole video clocks in at just under 11-minutes, which in itself is part of an evolution in the music video genre that has made some vids more artistic pieces and mini-movies than the glorified commercials for music artists and albums they have traditionally been.
Speaking of the evolution of the music vid genre, some music videos these days are so hyped they even get their own trailers. Katy Perry has released not one, but two teasers for her upcoming single video “Roar,” set for release on August 12. The “California Gurls” star is clearly building buzz for some big changes. Teaser one depicts Perry somberly burning her famed blue wig while sporting some distinctly goth-inspired garb. The second teaser, released today, takes place at a funeral. As the camera spans over mourners (some in lavender wigs) standing and weeping around a white casket decorated in vintage-Perry spinning candy wheels it pauses on Katy herself, who merely lowers her black shades and gives a smirk to the audience. The clip is a clear announcement that “Roar” and her new album will be a departure in style from her sugar-coated, technicolored Teenage Dream roots.